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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: October ::
Re: Editorial/Interpretational Practices
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0950  Tuesday, 6 October 1998.

[1]     From:   Scott Crozier <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 06 Oct 1998 10:28:01 +1000
        Subj:   Re: Editorial/Interpretational Practices

[2]     From:   John Jowett <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 6 Oct 1998 13:08:10 GMT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0940 Re: Editorial/Interpretational Practices


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Scott Crozier <
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Date:           Tuesday, 06 Oct 1998 10:28:01 +1000
Subject:        Re: Editorial/Interpretational Practices

 Justin Bacon wrote:

"I agree that plays should be performed because they have something to
say to a modern audience. But if the play you end up producing isn't the
play which  Shakespeare or Marlowe or Behn or Jonson wrote, then why are
you doing their plays?"

The Elizabethan/Jacobean playscripts that I direct are but one
ingredient of many that goes to the creation of a performance.
Personally, I try to adhere to the playtext as often as I can, but I no
longer claim that the playtext is sacrosanct.  When a performance is
created, an Elizabethan / Jacobean playscript is not "done".  A group of
actors, technicians, designers, and a director(s) acquire the playscript
and, like it or not, a tradition / history of performance that has fixed
in the minds of many a mind set about the performance of the
playscript.  To do the playscript service in the late 1990's I make is a
practice to find out as much about the first performance of the play as
I can and then appropriate the playscript, with that knowledge in mind,
so that the performance will be infused with a feeling, an atmosphere, a
soul that has an anchor in the 1590's.  In practice, this could mean
stripping tinsel from fairies in MND or de-buffooning the lovers in the
same play.  It could mean infusing  R3 with fascist iconography as
McLellan did, or hanging the Argentine flag over the scaffolding of
Henry V as the English Shakespeare Company did for their post-Falklands
War of the Roses tour.  It could also mean truncating the many battle
scenes in Lear and making them one or as Tate did in his time rewriting
the end to suite the sensibilities of the time.  In all cases the
performances from which these examples came worked for the audiences at
the time of the performances,  that is what Shakespeare's playscripts
are acquired and appropriated by companies of actors from four centuries
and no doubt they will continue to do so.

Regards,
Scott Crozier

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Jowett <
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Date:           Tuesday, 6 Oct 1998 13:08:10 GMT
Subject: 9.0940 Re: Editorial/Interpretational Practices
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0940 Re: Editorial/Interpretational Practices

Justin Bacon writes:

"However, to run willy-nilly over the text making decisions which
are-for all intents and purposes-random is just plain silly. To wander
through HAMLET's text and simply say "Oh, I like this portion from
Q2..." and then cover that up by adopting a scholastic tone and stating:
"[quotes from G.R. Hibbard's 1987 edition, p. 107]" I'm sorry, but
that's just silly. If the attitude you want to adopt is "I'm picking the
line readings I like best"-that's a fine philosophy to have, just state
it plainly in your introduction and move on."

G.R. Hibbard would be silly to adopt the approach as described, but he
doesn't.  He is giving an example of the consequences of following F1,
not Q2 as Justin Bacon suggests.  Hibbard does not justify making
choices at random.  Rather, he consistently follows F1 where it
introduces cuts, arguing that they were probably made by Shakespeare for
a theatrical manuscript.  Hibbard's fine edition shows how carefully
reasoned discussion can lead to an innovative yet coherent treatment of
the text.  That's surely of serious interest, but sorry, but there's no
shameful wandering, no cover-up.

John Jowett
 

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