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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: December ::
Re: Introductions
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.1271  Wednesday, 9 December 1998.

[1]     From:   Cary M. Mazer <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 08 Dec 1998 08:37:20 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1262  Re: Introductions

[2]     From:   Jamie Brough <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 8 Dec 1998 10:06:58 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1260  Introductions

[3]     From:   Janet Maclellan <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 8 Dec 1998 10:26:58 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Introductions

[4]     From:   David Evett <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 08 Dec 1998 10:28:41 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1260  Introductions

[5]     From:   Tim Perfect <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 8 Dec 1998 08:12:40 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1262  Introductions

[6]     From:   Pervez Rizvi  <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 8 Dec 1998 17:16:56 -0000
        Subj:   RE: SHK 9.1262  Re: Introductions

[7]     From:   Ed Pixley <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 08 Dec 1998 14:34:11 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1260  Introductions

[8]     From:   Ed Pixley <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 08 Dec 1998 14:38:06 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1260  Introductions

[9]     From:   Robert A. Haas <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 8 Dec 1998 16:48:19 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1260  Introductions


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Cary M. Mazer <
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Date:           Tuesday, 08 Dec 1998 08:37:20 -0500
Subject: 9.1262  Re: Introductions
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1262  Re: Introductions

Entrance introductions might be more useful-perhaps even *necessary*--in
plays written for a standing company of actors, in a theatre in which
there is a lot of doubling.  If spectators are familiar with each of the
actors from one play to the next, then they will recognize the identity
of the actor before they figure out what character that actor is playing
in this particular play.  And, in the case of plays with a lot of
doubling, they will recognize the identity of the actor before they
figure out which character that actor is playing in this particular
scene.  There are moments when the identity of the character is left
ambiguous (I'd like to think intentionally so), while the identity of
the actor would be self-evident.  For example, when Oliver arrives in
Arden late in As You Like It, introduces himself to Ganymede and Aliena,
and narrates Oliver's encounter with Orlando and the lioness, spectators
would certainly recognize the actor who had been playing Oliver; but
they may be none to certain whether the actor was playing Oliver or some
new character altogether-the third-person narrative would suggest the
latter-and would therefore be as surprised as Aliena when he shifts to
the first person and reveals himself to be Oliver, converted by his
experience.  I wonder whether Bottom, reentering with the ass's head,
would be immediately be recognized as Bottom translated, or would
instead be seen as some magical creature, where it not for they way his
friends talk to him.

Cary

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jamie Brough <
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Date:           Tuesday, 8 Dec 1998 10:06:58 EST
Subject: 9.1260  Introductions
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1260  Introductions

I suspect it has much to do with the view afforded the less well-off
patrons of the Globe. Also, as many roles would have been shared, with
Ophelia played by a young male actor, such clarification would seem
prudent. However, both the examples you cited contain valuable
observations of character (together with identity!). 'Here comes
Brabantio and the valiant Moor [Senator]', for example, is followed
immediately by the Duke's welcome of 'Valiant Othello'.  This repetition
establishes the Moor's worth in our minds prior to Brabantio's charge
against him to the council and adds to the irony of Othello's fall from
grace.

I have just read H. Hill's reply after writing this-and he does more for
this idea.  Although I should mention that in Othello the observations
of the Duke and Senator are made ironic by the play's later
circumstances-they truly believe in O.'s worth when they address him as
'valiant'.

Jamie Brough

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Janet Maclellan <
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Date:           Tuesday, 8 Dec 1998 10:26:58 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Introductions

On a pragmatic note, a one- or two-line introduction from an onstage
character gives the actor who is just entering some time to get down- or
centre-stage before speaking.

Janet MacLellan
University of Toronto

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[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
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Date:           Tuesday, 08 Dec 1998 10:28:41 -0500
Subject: 9.1260  Introductions
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1260  Introductions

In re Jacob Baltuch's question about the theatrical purpose of having
one character "introduce" another who is just entering: among other
things, it helps in the process of attaching name to face in a
dramaturgy that more often identifies personages by role.

Dave Evett

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tim Perfect <
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Date:           Tuesday, 8 Dec 1998 08:12:40 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 9.1262  Introductions
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1262  Introductions

This is what makes performing Shakespeare so wonderful for an actor.
Everything an actor needs is in the language, from the characters and
setting:

"Tranio, since for the great desire I had
To see fair Padua, nursery of arts,
I am arrived for fruitful Lombardy,
The pleasant garden of great Italy.."

to the thoughts and desires of the characters. That is why you don't
need extensive sets, props, or costumes, and that is why the works of
Shakespeare have lasted to the present day.  Because in the simple
interaction of actor, word and audience, the language of Shakespeare can
bring to life the tranquility of a mountain brook, or the rage of a
battle, with a reality that modern stage machinery cannot begin to
achieve.

That is why the works of Shakespeare are in complete contrast to the
works of Ibsen or Chekhov. Chekhov is a master of subtext.
Shakespeare's characters speak their subtext. As Edward Payson Call,
protege of Sir Tyrone Guthrie once told me, "Love the words."

How simple, and how true.

Tim Perfect
Cleveland Shakespeare Festival

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[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pervez Rizvi  <
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Date:           Tuesday, 8 Dec 1998 17:16:56 -0000
Subject: 9.1262  Re: Introductions
Comment:        RE: SHK 9.1262  Re: Introductions

The other use for "introductions" is to let the audience know where the
action is set. Two examples that come to mind: "Before Angiers, well met
brave Austria!" from King John, and "Once again, well met at Cyprus"
from Othello.

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Pixley <
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Date:           Tuesday, 08 Dec 1998 14:34:11 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 9.1260  Introductions
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1260  Introductions

This is probably going to be too quick an answer, since I have a lot of
papers to grade, but off the top of my head it has to do with the way we
direct focus on the stage.  The entrance of a new set of characters
requires a readjustment on the part of everybody on stage, a transition
from the thoughts and feelings which had been dominating their attention
to a new set of thoughts and feelings affected by a new presence.  As
audience, it is not enough for us to be aware that these people have
entered; we must also be conscious of any adjustments being made to that
entrance by those already on stage.  With Brabantio and Othello's
entrance, I believe several people are involved, with several different
possible adjustments they could be making.  With Hamlet, having just
completed the "To be . . ." speech, we must be at least as interested in
his adjustment as we are in her entrance.

That announcement gives us that moment to notice it.  But it could, in
some productions, also give us a chance to notice the adjustment of
those people hiding behind the arras, because they are, after all, also
still on stage.  In film, such lines are gratuitous, because the camera
can pan or jump to all those reactions and focus for us.  A film
director might justifiably cut them, but most playwrights, not just
Shakespeare, are very conscious of creating lines that in fact guide the
visual progression of the stage focus.

Ed Pixley
SUNY-Oneonta

[8]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Pixley <
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Date:           Tuesday, 08 Dec 1998 14:38:06 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 9.1260  Introductions
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1260  Introductions

> I have one simple question about the very widespread stage convention
. . .

One more note, Mr. Baltuch.  Thanks for asking what I think to be an
extremely important question, and for giving me an opportunity to share
a stage director's perspective on play structure which rarely gets
talked about among those whose background is dominantly literary.  I
hope I was helpful.

Ed Pixley
SUNY-Oneonta

[9]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robert A. Haas <
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Date:           Tuesday, 8 Dec 1998 16:48:19 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 9.1260  Introductions
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1260  Introductions

Well, it is one way of identifying just which character has entered, a
valuable practice in the days before programs.

Bob Haas
Department of English
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
 

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