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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: December ::
Re: TV Tempest; Rhetoric; LLL; Pop
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.1273  Wednesday, 9 December 1998.

[1]     From:   Robert Neblett <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 08 Dec 1998 08:40:06 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1266  Re: TV Tempest

[2]     From:   Janet MacLellan <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 8 Dec 1998 09:57:52 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Rhetoric and Acting

[3]     From:   Robin Hamilton <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 8 Dec 1998 16:46:27 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1265  Re: Branagh's LLL PLUS

[4]     From:   Karen E Peterson-Kranz <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 9 Dec 1998 10:35:01 +1000 (GMT+1000)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1237  Re: Shakespeare and Pop Culture


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robert Neblett <
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Date:           Tuesday, 08 Dec 1998 08:40:06 -0600
Subject: 9.1266  Re: TV Tempest
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1266  Re: TV Tempest

On 12-8-98 Hugh Davis wrote:

"Having seen a screener of this TV movie, I think my basic reaction is
somewhat similar to Ms. Barton's.  While the film is visually splendid,
and both Fonda and John Glover present excellent performances, the
transformation is, in the end, flawed by some inconsistencies and an
anxiousness to create a heroic Prospero for today's politically correct
age.  I'll reserve full comments until it airs-lest I spoil NBC's tricks
of adaptation for anyone planning on watching it-but I'm anxious to see
what other list members think."

Is portraying Prospero as a heroic figure a gesture of political
correctness?  I always thought he was the hero of the piece.  Now,
portraying Caliban as a hero could possibly be construed as a
postcolonial attempt at reconciliation with the past through
revisionism, I think.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Janet MacLellan <
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Date:           Tuesday, 8 Dec 1998 09:57:52 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Rhetoric and Acting

To Brooke Brod:

An understanding of classical rhetoric can be invaluable to the modern
Shakespearean actor in a number of ways. (Apologies in advance if any of
the following reiterates what you already know.)

1) It helps one recognize and interpret Shakespeare's verbal patterning.
Elocutio, or style, is probably the aspect of classical rhetoric most
modern actors first encounter. Learning a few of the hundreds of
rhetorical figures studied as a matter of course by Renaissance
schoolboys can alert an actor to their presence-and potential
functions-in Shakespeare's plays. For an introduction to this subject, I
second the recommendation of Vickers's "Shakespeare's Use of Rhetoric"
in _A New Companion to Shakespeare Studies_. For a model of how to use
this awareness in reading Shakespeare's text, see the first few chapters
of Bertram Joseph's _Acting Shakespeare_. (For a more recent, but very
brief discussion of the value of Shakespeare's rhetorical devices for
the modern actor, see Kristin Linklater's Freeing Shakespeare's Voice.)
For a more extensive analysis of the "rhetorical structure" of speeches
in Shakespeare, see Brian Vickers, The Artistry of Shakespeare's Prose.
A note on terminology: Because most rhetorical figures have Latin as
well as Greek names, learning them can be a bit confusing. I wouldn't
let that stop you from familiarizing yourself with certain key figures
such as anaphora, antithesis, antimetabole, polyptoton, and so on. It
is, of course, possible to spot verbal patterns without learning their
names, but after saying "Hey! This line begins with the same word that
ended the one before it," a few dozen times, you're likely to find that
knowing the word "anadiplosis" actually makes your life easier. Richard
Lanham's A Handlist of Rhetorical Terms is a useful guide: it lists
figures alphabetically as well as by function, and cross-references
Greek and Latin (and even Puttenham's whimsical English) names of
figures.

2) It alerts one to the strategies and structures of argumentation in
the plays. Absorbing as the study of style can be, in classical
rhetorical theory it forms only one stage in a larger process. Classical
rhetoric advocates a five-part method of composition: invention of
arguments, arrangement of one's material, apt expression of that
material (i.e. style), memorization, and delivery. The standard
introduction to this method for students is Edward Corbett's Classical
Rhetoric for the Modern Student, but if you'd like to start with
something shorter, try "The Processes of Rhetoric" in Brian Vickers's
Classical Rhetoric in English Poetry. What use is all this to the actor
or director? Get to know what an enthymeme is (invention), and you'll
find it much easier to follow a character's reasoning and/or thought
processes, and to spot strengths or weaknesses in both. Get acquainted
with the standard forms of the set speech, and you'll develop a much
better appreciation of the variations Shakespeare spins on them. [Feel
free to contact me off-list if you'd like examples of some articles that
do this.]

3) It offers one valuable insight into Shakespeare's cultural context,
as well as into the habit of mind implied by his dramaturgy.  A number
of scholars have published thought-provoking cultural readings of early
modern rhetoric, in relation to Shakespeare and otherwise (e.g.
Rebhorn's The Emperor of Men's Minds, recommended earlier in this
thread). The book I would most recommend to the director or dramaturge
as a starting point would be Joel Altman's The Tudor Play of Mind, which
asks the question, "what happens to a mind conditioned to argue _in
utramque partem_--on both sides of the question-as Renaissance students
were trained to do?" What a mind like Shakespeare's can gain from such
an educational system we see in his plays: the quality that has been
referred to as his "two-eyedness" and is now often celebrated as his
"dialogism" has much to do with this essential aspect of rhetorical
culture.

Investigation of any or all of these aspects of classical rhetoric
yields very "playable" insights into Shakespeare's dramaturgy. I
encourage you to explore the subject further-I think you would find it
very rewarding.

Janet MacLellan
University of Toronto

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[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robin Hamilton <
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Date:           Tuesday, 8 Dec 1998 16:46:27 -0000
Subject: 9.1265  Re: Branagh's LLL PLUS
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1265  Re: Branagh's LLL PLUS

>>What was the pronunciation question?
>
>It was about the name which appears in the 1598 quarto as "Longauill" -
>I have no idea what the British stage pronunciation of this might be,
>having seen only U.S. actors in the play.

I think the British pronunciation would be Long-ga-vill-but more
importantly, for the rhythm, the exact pronunciation is less important
than the stress pattern, which demands    /   X   X.

Robin Hamilton

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karen E Peterson-Kranz <
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Date:           Wednesday, 9 Dec 1998 10:35:01 +1000 (GMT+1000)
Subject: 9.1237  Re: Shakespeare and Pop Culture
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1237  Re: Shakespeare and Pop Culture

Barbara Hume mentioned the many Star Trek Shakespeare references...one
episode from the original series actually featured an interplanetary
group of Shakespearean players.  I can't recall the episode title
offhand, but the story line revolved around the troupe's founder, a
colonial dictator convicted in absentia of genocide before he took a new
identity as an actor.

Also, on the pop culture/Star Trek connection, don't forget the Star
Trek VI movie, "The Undiscovered Country," with marvelous Shakespearean
quotes delivered by Christopher Plummer as a Klingon commander (he does
a terrific "cry havoc...").  Also: "You can't appreciate Shakespeare
unless you experience it in the original Klingon."

What I won't do to avoid grading undergraduate essays.

Karen Peterson-Kranz
Department of English & Applied Linguistics
University of Guam
 

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