Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: September ::
Re: Globe Merchant
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0826  Thursday, 10 September 1998.

[1]     From:   Cary M. Mazer <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 09 Sep 1998 09:28:56 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0820  Re: Globe Merchant

[2]     From:   William Williams <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 09 Sep 1998 08:53:10 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0820  Re: Globe Merchant

[3]     From:   Franklin J. Hildy <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 09 Sep 1998 12:15:37 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0820  Re: Globe Merchant

[4]     From:   Richard Dutton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 10 Sep 1998 08:42:00 +0100
        Subj:   RE: SHK 9.0815  Globe Merchant


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Cary M. Mazer <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 09 Sep 1998 09:28:56 -0400
Subject: 9.0820  Re: Globe Merchant
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0820  Re: Globe Merchant

Mike Sirofchuck wrote:

>But, I enjoyed the hell out of the
>show (the Globe experience was not a "play" - it was a show in the sense
>of continuous and varied entertainments) and I do not find myself
>thinking anti-Semitic thoughts or any more or less prejudiced against
>Jews than before I went into the theatre.  It's always a shock when we
>discover that writers we revere have human frailties.

I have been following this thread with great interest, especially since
I have not yet been over to London to see any of the stagings at the
Globe.  I'm not at all surprised that even the most experienced and
sophisticated theatregoers find themselves swept up in the
audience-participation shticks that the management seems to be
encouraging, and that even the most experienced and sophisticated
theatregoers would not find themselves thinking anti-semitic thoughts
while doing so.  But I'd be curious to hear the response of any Jewish
theatregoers on the list, who may not have had this luxury, and who,
like Dr. Greenberg, found themselves profoundly alienated from the rest
of the audience.  I've never been so lonely when I've been in an
enormous audience and have not shared the response of my fellow audience
members.   I look forward to hearing about your experiences with this,
either on the list or in private.

Cary

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Williams <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 09 Sep 1998 08:53:10 -0500
Subject: 9.0820  Re: Globe Merchant
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0820  Re: Globe Merchant

Well, all this has been very interesting, but as I believe I said during
the summer, it says much more about us (people who are subscribers to a
list such as SHAKSPER) than it does about Shakespeare, The Globe (choose
your number from I to III), or MV.  Aside from seeing MV three times at
the Globe I did see the RSC production once.  Ah, well there is all the
difference.  The RSC did "proper" Shakespeare (as seen from 1998)
whereas the Globe did "improper" Shakespeare (as seen from pre-1642).
Some questions:  has human nature changed that much in nearly 400
years?  is not the current Globe audience probably a little farther up
the social tree (whatever that may mean) than the 17th cent. audience?
is not a dislike of the Other, whatever that might be for a particular
group, part of being an ordinary mortal?  is not an audience in the
standing/sitting-all in the same daylight-middle of the afternoon
atmosphere much more like a mob or rock concert audience than it is like
the audience in a modern theatre?  isn't a good indication of how well
Globe III is performing its task the fact that so many "Shakespeareans"
dislike it so much?

Now to sit back and wait for the hate mail.  By the way, glad Tom Berger
got his questions answered, particularly the very full and definitive
answer from Terence Hawkes.

WPW

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Franklin J. Hildy <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 09 Sep 1998 12:15:37 -0400
Subject: 9.0820  Re: Globe Merchant
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0820  Re: Globe Merchant

I'm curious to know where those who have been commenting on the New
Globe's Merchant were located during the performance. It seems that
those of us who stood had a very different experience form those who sat
and this is an important aspect of the laboratory nature of these
performances.

There is nothing I can add to the debate over  the anti-Semitic nature
of the text but I did not find that the production made the play
particularly anti-Semitic.  What I did find was that, by not making
Shylock the tragic hero of the piece, the last act actually made sense
for once. Rather than being an embarrassing after thought that no one
really has any idea what to do with, the last act seemed necessary to
the play. Maybe that Shakespeare guy did know what he was doing, at
least as far has structuring a comedy. (What his personal views on
Jewish people may have been I have no clue.)

It is a good idea for all of us to keep pressure on the Globe concerning
the pseudo-Elizabethanism of the approach to audience participation.
They have been, and they know they have been, encouraging a programmed
response to performances rather that creating an environment where
people can respond honestly to what they see. They will get this fixed
eventually but it is not an easy thing to do. I  do think it is good to
remember, however,  that the Globe was intended form the start to be an
experimental theatre and as such they are obligated to experiment and
some of those experiments are bound to fail. They do have to push rather
hard to overcome the negative effects of the last 100 years of audience
training. In spite of the best efforts of the avant garde theatre of the
20s and 30s and of the 60s and early 70s, we have trained audiences to
be film goers. This is not necessarily a good thing for theatre and is
not going to work at the Globe-at least I hope not. So keep the pressure
on them, I certainly will, but do not ask them to become another RSC. I
like the RSC mind you, but I hope we all want the Globe to be very
different.

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard Dutton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 10 Sep 1998 08:42:00 +0100
Subject: 9.0815  Globe Merchant
Comment:        RE: SHK 9.0815  Globe Merchant

I saw one of the earliest performances of the Globe 'Merchant' and was
similarly disturbed by the dynamics of the play's anti-semitism, coupled
with the populist nature of the theatrical event. Shylock was openly
hissed from the beginning, there were cheers when Portia turned the
tables on him, and spontaneous applause when it was announced that he
would be required to turn Christian. It would be particularly disturbing
(one of the real dangers inherent in the Globe experiment) if an
orthodoxy were to develop that such dynamics somehow established a
'true' or 'authentic' Shakespeare - there is so much more to it than
just the playing space.

One factor Dr Greenberg does not mention is the casting of a number of
black actors in the play - notably as the Duke and as Gratiano (who, of
course, is the leading Jew-baiter). The liberal instinct not to think
ill of one racial minority seemed to me oddly to fuel the 'licence' to
demonise another.

It all left a nasty taste in the mouth. To crown matters, as I walked
back down the Bankside, the police were raiding a pub where a National
Front (i.e. neo-Nazi) meeting was taking place. Anti-semitism is not
something we can play with, even in the name of Shakespeare.

Richard Dutton
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.