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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: November ::
Re: Pericles
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.1196  Friday, 27 November 1998.

From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Sunday, 22 Nov 1998 01:13:57 -0500
Subject: 9.1164  Pericles
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1164  Pericles

Stanley Wells wrote:

> I saw a preview of Pericles at the Public Theatre in New York three
> weeks ago and have been surprised not to see it mentioned on the list -
> though I may have missed references to it. It's an inventive, sensitive,
> and deeply moving production which I highly recommend, especially to
> those contributors who referred to it as a bad play.

I saw the play last evening, and can't agree entirely.  While portions
were sensitive and moving, and the staging can well be characterized as
"inventive," I much preferred the more naturalistic, albeit
self-consciously modernized, production of the play which the New York
Shakespeare Festival did at the Public a few years ago.

The current production is a bit over stylized for my taste, and the
actors have a tendency to recite rather than play the text.  This is
particularly true in the unShakespearan portions.  In fact, the
difference in acting techniques between those portions and the
Shakespearean sections (especially the Marina scenes) is so pronounced
as to suggest a deliberate directorial decision, as if to highlight the
authorial difference.  If that is the case, it was an interesting choice
and one with which I do not entirely disagree, although it presupposes a
degree of audience sophistication which is unrealistic to expect.  If it
was not an intentional device, I suppose the fact that it came out that
way points up WS's superior theatricality.

What Professor Wells was too modest to note was that this production is
based on the Oxford's "reconstructed text," including a revised version
of that edition's interpolated "Scene 8a" by Taylor and Jackson.  I
wonder if this has been performed before.  I also wonder if the producer
troubled to obtain a license from the Oxford copyright owners.
"Reconstruction" by adding newly composed material, even if loosely
based on 390 year old texts, raises fascinating legal issues not
ordinarily present in Shakespearean production.  At least, they
fascinate me.  (I could be wrong, but I believe that the song used in
the production at the Public is not the same as that written by
Taylor/Jackson, and, if so, that might conceivably have been an attempt
by the producers to avoid the issue, as the song is the most
indisputably original portion of the scene.  There were other changes as
well, notably the substitution of Thaisa for the gentlemen, but that
could have been due to casting limitations or a determination that
Thaisa is more dramatic.)
 

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