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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: September ::
Re: Editorial/Interpretational Practices
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0863  Monday, 21 September 1998.

[1]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Friday, 18 Sep 1998 09:44:37 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0859  Re: Editorial/Interpretational Practices

[2]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Friday, 18 Sep 1998 15:04:18 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0859  Re: Editorial/Interpretational Practices

[3]     From:   Drew Alan Mason <
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        Date:   Monday, 21 Sep 1998 17:58:13 +1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0859  Re: Editorial/Interpretational Practices

[4]     From:   Dale Lyles <
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        Date:   Saturday, 19 Sep 1998 16:39:10 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0855  Re: Editorial/Interpretational Practices


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Friday, 18 Sep 1998 09:44:37 -0700
Subject: 9.0859  Re: Editorial/Interpretational Practices
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0859  Re: Editorial/Interpretational Practices

Aren't we getting a little doctrinaire in our rejection of "original
Shakespeare"?  I don't agree that we can get back to some primal text,
or even that the early texts get us into a sacred proximity with it.
Such a position opens up the nasty question of what to do with
unresolved differences between different early texts, for instance.

That said, Q1 and F1 are obviously in a different category from (say)
Tate's _Lear_ (which I just read, BTW), or Kurosawa's _Ran_, or a
videotape of Cameron's _Titanic_, relabelled "Lear."  Surely early texts
have some sort of precedence, usually ascribed to proximity with the
"original", even if such a thing is frankly irrecoverable in absolute
purity, and may not even have existed.  In any case, they can be
distinguished from our whims by their relationship, however complex,
with the "author" (Foucault notwithstanding).

This doesn't, just to repeat myself, mean that there's an interdiction
of creativity in appropriating said texts, especially in performance, to
our own time and place.  Lepage may have set his MND in a mud pool, and
I would have liked to have seen it, but he didn't just produce his own
version of _Peter Pan_ and pass it off as Shakespeare.

Cheers,
Sean

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Friday, 18 Sep 1998 15:04:18 -0400
Subject: 9.0859  Re: Editorial/Interpretational Practices
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0859  Re: Editorial/Interpretational Practices

Don Rowan writes

> It may be naive or simplistic to read into the text at least
> "something" of the author's intentions, but surely this is preferable to
> the gymnastics of many soi-disant modern critics who use the plays as
> stalking horses to demonstrate their own private agendas, critics who
> scorn any smidgen of common sense and in support of their own pet
> theories persist in reading against the grain of the text.

"Something" of the author's intentions' and 'the gymnastics of many
soi-disant modern critics' do not have to be antithetical. We've long
been aware that boy actors played female roles, but this 'fact' is
transformed into something rich and absorbing by Queer Theory.
Saussurian linguistics has been around long enough that 'sign',
'signifier', and 'signified' can be bandied about in undergraduate
Shakespeare courses without the instructor being held up as a mad
literary theorist. When students respond to a new theoretical
perspective by invoking common sense and characterize the new
interpretation as part of a critic's private agenda, I sense that they
are reacting to having their mental boundaries pushed back, and that's
good education. Of course, they are still free to reject the offered
theory.

Empirical study of Shakespeare-to which Don Rowan has made an enormous
contribution-is not commonsense, and theories are not 'pets'.
('Monsters' might be a better metaphor.) Like any other text, history
has to read against the grain to show the vibrant lived experiences of
conflict and accommodation which underlie the smooth exterior.

Gabriel Egan

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Drew Alan Mason <
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Date:           Monday, 21 Sep 1998 17:58:13 +1000
Subject: 9.0859  Re: Editorial/Interpretational Practices
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0859  Re: Editorial/Interpretational Practices

I agree with Scott Crozier completely!

I just staged an As You Like It recently that served as a comparison
between the confining corporate world of today, and the freedom of the
country life.  We used contemporary country songs during the show,
danced the Achy Breaky, and had a slickly black-dressed Duke Fred (as a
Bill Gates-Robert DeNiro in Devils Advocate type).  The production
served fairly well, I think, to show the comparisons of these two areas
of life, and also how Rosalind, Celia, Touchstone, Orlando and Oliver,
gradually free themselves of the oppressive corporate lifestyle in favor
of the freedom of the life of the country folk.  I think this very much
speaks to a contemporary audience where doublets, hose, and gowns would
certainly have no relation to life today.

Drew Mason

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dale Lyles <
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Date:           Saturday, 19 Sep 1998 16:39:10 EDT
Subject: 9.0855  Re: Editorial/Interpretational Practices
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0855  Re: Editorial/Interpretational Practices

Here at the Newnan Community Theatre Company, we are working towards
next weekend's world premiere of *Lying in State*, David C. Hyer's new
comedy about a dead politician.

Shameless plugs aside, I can speak firsthand about "the playwright's
text" and its relationship to the performers.  First of all, this is the
fourth version of the play we've seen since we first read it through two
years ago.  Two weeks before we were to begin rehearsal, Dave sent us a
new Act II, similar in its outline but differing in its details.

We have spent the last four weeks hammering out a performance from
Dave's text.  We have rearranged lines, dropped lines, rewritten lines.
Many of these were done while he was here for the first readthrough;
others will come as a pleasant surprise to him next Friday.  We have
created business which essentially define the text and the characters in
ways which Dave never thought of.  We have flip-flopped scenes and lines
from the various versions at our disposal.

Now: is the script which we read with such delight two years ago the
"original" text?  Or is what you will see next Friday night and until
October 10 ($8 gen. admission) the original text?  Does the playwright
take what we have done with it and resubmit it to his agent as the
official version?

If we take these kinds of "liberties" with a playwright who will be
sitting in the second row, you can imagine the "liberties" we take with
Shakespeare.  As I tell my casts, "The best thing about interpreting
Shakespeare is that he's dead and we're not."

That's what theatre is all about.

Dale Lyles
Newnan Community Theatre Company
<http://shenandoah.peachnet.edu/nctc/>
 

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