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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: October ::
Historical Clarification
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.1027  Thursday, 22 October 1998.

From:           Barrett Fisher <
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Date:           Wednesday, 21 Oct 1998 13:28:27 -0500
Subject:        Historical Clarification

I am hoping (actually, I am quite sure) that those of you more
thoroughly learned in the history of Shakespearean performance can
clarify an issue for me.

One of my colleagues, whose student visited the London Globe last fall,
told him that 1) actors in Shakespeare's day did not receive their parts
until the morning of performance; and 2) they went into performance
without having rehearsed certain scenes (in order to ensure more
"genuine" reactions).

My knowledge on this point extends thus far: 1) actors received scripts
containing only their parts, along with relevant prompts; 2) actors
often had only a few weeks to rehearse a production; 3) companies
performed in reportory, much as the modern RSC in Stratford does.

Based on my slim understanding, I hesitate to correct the student out of
hand before consulting wiser heads.  Is she right, is she
misunderstanding or distorting some information, or is she simply
wrong?  (And I realize there may be different answered based on each of
her propositions).

I would greatly appreciate instruction on this matter.  Also, I am sure
(as is the wont of contributors to this list), I will be sent to some
excellent resources.  I am sure that at least one of Andrew Gurr's fine
books is relevant.

Barrett Fisher
Bethel College (MN)
 

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