1998

Re: Getting Children Interested in Shakespeare

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0668  Friday, 17 July 1998.

[1]     From:   Simon Malloch <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 17 Jul 1998 11:54:12 +0800
        Subj:   Re: Getting Children Interested in Shakespeare

[2]     From:   Joe Conlon <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 17 Jul 1998 09:11:18 -0500
        Subj:   Re: Getting Children Interested in Shakespeare


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Simon Malloch <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 17 Jul 1998 11:54:12 +0800
Subject:        Re: Getting Children Interested in Shakespeare

Henry Griffy wrote...

> Nevertheless, while reading everyone else's responses, I noticed a
> dialectic emerging:  the general consensus seems to be that children
> like to play; therefore, those of us who would infect them with our
> lifelong obsession should present them with the PLAYS of William
> Shakespeare, as opposed to the WORKS of William Shakespeare (these
> latter being best left to scholars).
>
> Perhaps this word-pair will help resolve some of the mounting
> disagreement over Dr. Bloom's assertions?

No, I think that you are only complicating the issue further.  Your
category of the "Works" of Shakespeare is, I believe, quite foreign to
the discussion thus far.  No one - including Bloom - has suggested
leaving the reading of the plays to scholars.  Bloom would say that
reading the plays - the texts of the plays - may be beyond the call of
children,  he does not say "leave text of Shakespeare to the academics."

Others on this list have preferred to present children with Shakespeare
through the experience of theatre, films, cartoons or comics.  None of
them have advised against adults or teenagers, or anyone outside of the
academy,  reading Shakespeare.  In the majority of cases of children
being introduced via the theatre and so on,  the natural progression
would be perhaps from a visual experience of Shakespeare to a reading
appreciation of Shakespeare.  Others, however,  may have had a different
experience.

The most popular introduction to Shakespeare seen in this thread thus
far, described just above,  may best be called a "visual" introduction.
That may be more faithful to the discussion than your "Plays" which
seems to cover everybody who has a passionate interest in Shakespeare,
and who is willing to pass that on (which would probably cover everybody
on this list) - which would, of course, include Bloom.

The distinction that then remains is between the child's capacity to
appreciate and understand Shakespeare from "reading" the plays (which
Bloom doubts, and others question), and the child's capacity to
appreciate and understand Shakespeare *in general* or,  if you wish,
more specifically,  from the "visual" experience of the theatre, cinema,
or lounge-room (the success of which has been amply demonstrated by this
thread).

Simon Malloch.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joe Conlon <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 17 Jul 1998 09:11:18 -0500
Subject:        Re: Getting Children Interested in Shakespeare

I'd like to add my thoughts to this thread.  I know a wonderful
elementary teacher in Stratford, Ontario, Canada.  Each year her second
grade students (aged 7-8) read, study, play a Shakespeare play.  They
then write a book and mount a production and travel throughout the
continent with their production.  Their books are published by Firefly
Press and are absolutely delightful and have sold quite well I
understand.  To date they have done books on Shakespeare's Life,
Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night, Macbeth, and Romeo and Juliet
(that I know of) and I've bought them all.  I visited Lois' classroom
last year and met some of the kids.  Their understanding of the plays is
quite profound.  The kids have done radio interviews and in one funny
story Lois told me the girl playing Lady Macbeth in a quite gentle
manner showed her understanding was much deeper than the "famous
personality" who was interviewing her.  Her students are normal, active
kids and not part of some special "program".  I think the difference is
their teacher and the "play" approach she uses.

I was a child of the '50's and grew up with a love of reading anything I
could get my hands on-often times Classics Illustrated comic books.  At
the end of each book would be a little blurb which basically said, "If
you liked this Classics Illustrated story, go to your local library to
get the complete book."  At about eight years old I discovered _The
Iliad_ and loved the comic and went to the library.  Mrs. Earhardt (a
neighbor who knew me well) was the children's librarian.  I asked her if
she had this book by some guy named Homer Somebody about the Trojan War
named _The Iliad_  (I mispronounced it).  She told me they had it, but
it was in the adult section.  She then looked around conspiratorily and
whispered to me that if I'd keep it a secret, she'd let me check it out
anyway.  For the next two weeks I read the book under my covers by the
light of a flashlight.  I hid it under my mattress and I lived and
breathed the Trojan War.  No one told me it was too hard to read, so I
loved it.  When I took it back, Mrs.  Earhardt asked me what I'd thought
about it and could tell I had understood it.  When I asked if that Homer
guy had written anything else, she told me of the Odyssey and I was off
on another adventure.  All that summer the kids in my neighborhood
reenacted the Trojan War.  Several years later in ninth grade we studied
the Odyssey in school and that was when I discovered that sometimes you
got to read "neat" books in English class.  That was the same year I
discovered _Romeo and Juliet_ and became hooked on Shakespeare.  I think
the classics are classics for a reason .... They tell good stories, and
all children love good stories and love to reenact them.  Children are
natural "players" and it is through their love of acting the parts that
Shakespeare will grab them.

Joe Conlon, Warsaw, IN, USA

Re: Incest

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0667  Friday, 17 July 1998.

[1]     From:   Bruce Young <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 16 Jul 1998 13:08:00 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0663  Re:  Incest

[2]     From:   Chris Gordon <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 16 Jul 1998 18:06:14 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 9.0663  Re: Incest

[3]     From:   Terence Hawkes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 17 Jul 1998 06:23:34 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 9.0663  Re: Incest


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bruce Young <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 16 Jul 1998 13:08:00 +0000
Subject: 9.0663  Re:  Incest
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0663  Re:  Incest

In response to Satia Testman's suggestion that there might be incest
within Polonius's family, I don't think the fact that Gertrude (and
perhaps others) hope Hamlet and Ophelia will be married "tears apart the
argument that Laertes and Polonius were protecting her from Hamlet's
machinations."  It seems likely there were differences of opinion in and
around the court about the likelihood or appropriateness of a
Hamlet-Ophelia match.

Polonius and Laertes think such a match unlikely or inappropriate,
saying, in effect, "Hamlet may think he loves you, but his love may not
last; he may even be toying with you.  Furthermore, his will is not his
own; given his royal station, the court and country have to sanction his
marriage.  And you may not be considered high enough in station to marry
him.  He is 'a prince out of thy star.'"  (See 1.3.5-28, 101-36;
2.2.131-42.)  Both counsel with Ophelia in private, are speaking (I
think) sincerely, and would be understood by Ophelia as meaning what
they say.

Another bit of evidence that Polonius means what he says is that he
later apologizes to Ophelia-again in private-for having counseled her
too harshly.  Deciding Hamlet has gone mad from spurned love, Polonius
softens his earlier view and says: "I am sorry that with better heed and
judgment / I had not coted him.  I fear'd he did but trifle / And meant
to wrack thee, but beshrow my jealousy [i.e., suspiciousness & maybe
possessiveness]!" (2.1.108-10).

Polonius is possessive and overprotective, but incestuous?  I think
not.  And I think it's unlikely Laertes is either.  If they were, would
it make sense for them, in private, to tell Ophelia, "Be careful not to
be overcome by desire; the young and innocent-particularly 'maids'-may
be badly damaged if they are not careful; don't lose your 'honor'
[virginity] by opening 'your chaste treasure' to Hamlet's insistence; be
'scanter of your maiden [virginal] presence' with him"?  Or would it
make sense for Ophelia to answer Laertes that he should practice the
same doctrine of sexual self-restraint he is preaching to her?  (See
1.3.29-51, 121.)

Their reasons for cautioning her seem to be (1) a concern about her
"honor" or "honesty"; (2) a concern that she'll be involved with someone
she can't marry; and (3) probably along with both of these, concern
about the distress, emotional and otherwise, she might experience if she
were emotionally or physically involved with Hamlet and then dropped.

The fact that Henry VIII provided well for his mistresses doesn't seem
to me compelling evidence that Polonius and Laertes, or anyone else in
the play, is supposed to think Ophelia would come off unscathed from an
affair with Hamlet.

Bruce Young
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Gordon <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 16 Jul 1998 18:06:14 -0500
Subject: Re: Incest
Comment:        SHK 9.0663  Re: Incest

Satia Testman wondered about the possibility of incest in the
Polonius-Laertes-Ophelia family. I think this would be an interesting
issue to explore in production, although finding textual evidence (of
any obvious sort) is unlikely. It is nonetheless clear that both
Polonius and Laertes have a very intense interest in Ophelia's
relationship with Hamlet, and while they assert that they are concerned
only because of discrepancies in rank, and their suspicions about
Hamlet's potential abuse of the situation, their interest could stem
from a more personal emotional/sexual interest.  Perhaps some
productions have already considered this option, though none I've seen
have done so.

Chris Gordon

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 17 Jul 1998 06:23:34 -0400
Subject: Re: Incest
Comment:        SHK 9.0663  Re: Incest

Dear Satia Testman: I think you're definitely on to something.  What we
need is the evidence of Laertes's social worker.

Terence Hawkes

Re: Arden CD-Rom

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0665  Friday, 17 July 1998.

[1]     From:   Jeffrey Myers <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 16 Jul 1998 14:00:21 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 9.0662  Arden CD-Rom

[2]     From:   Nick Kind <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Fridayy, 17 Jul 1998 09:52:15 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0662  Arden CD-Rom


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jeffrey Myers <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 16 Jul 1998 14:00:21 -0400
Subject: 9.0662  Arden CD-Rom
Comment:        RE: SHK 9.0662  Arden CD-Rom

> On page 9 of the Times Literary Supplement dated July 3,
> 1998, there is
> a half-page review of the Arden Shakespeare CD-ROM by Professor G.W.
> Pigman (of the CIT).
[snip]
> The review concludes: 'Even if the Arden
> Shakespeare had been reasonably priced, its shortcomings
> should serve as
> a warning to editors and publishers preparing electronic
> books. At 2500
> pounds, it is a scandal.  This is not the way to bring about a
> revolution in publishing.' I think that it would be helpful
> if those who
> have used the CD-ROM in question could confirm or contradict this
> evaluation; perhaps those who made the editorial options might care to
> justify them? Certainly, I would like to be well informed
> before asking a library to spend such money.

There was a discussion of this CD on the list when a sample disk was
being circulated some time ago.  I agreed with the reviewer you cite and
advised my library against getting it at what I considered an outrageous
price.  Others, including a representative of the publisher, disagreed.
You might want to consult the archives (we do have archives, don't we?)
for the original discussion if someone can remember when the thread took
place.

Jeff Myers

[Editor's Note: Yes, all discussions of the past nine years are
archived.  To access them, use the SEARCH function.  In this case, send
a request like SEARCH SHAKSPER ARDEN AND CD-ROM to
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  HMC]

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Nick Kind <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Fridayy, 17 Jul 1998 09:52:15 +0100
Subject: 9.0662  Arden CD-Rom
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0662  Arden CD-Rom

Whilst I did not commission the Arden CD-ROM, or take any of the
editorial or business decisions involved in its genesis (Nelson/ Arden
inherited these from Routledge), I am currently responsible for Arden's
electronic product. Consequently, I responded to the TLS with the
following letter (which has been published in today's edition in an
edited form). On- or off-list, I'll be delighted to pick up on any of
the points I have outlined in it or any which you might feel I have left
out - notably the in-depth technical details of the DTD, which is in
fact based on the TEI spec., but with some details changed to allow for
some of the functionality we have in the Arden product. However, I hope
it is a succinct summary of what we feel.

     Nicholas Kind
     Electronic Development Manager
     The Arden Shakespeare

     ------------

Sir:

I read G.W. Pigman's review of The Arden Shakespeare CD-ROM: Texts and
Sources for Shakespeare Studies (TLS, 3rd July) with concern, as I felt
it focussed on the technical architecture of the disc rather than its
practical uses. I would consequently like to make the following points:

1.  The disc was primarily designed for use in teaching, a use which
Pigman ignores in his review. Some of the most distinctive features of
the disc are therefore left unmentioned, including the ability to click
on "Source" for any scene in the canon and immediately see relevant
highlighted passages from Bullough, and the possibility of creating and
downloading an actor's partbook for any part in Shakespeare.
2.  Folio and Quarto facsimiles for the whole of Shakespeare's work (in
some cases, more than one Quarto per play) are not readily available in
any other electronic form, especially in a form where you - and your
class - can view them simultaneously with an edited text at the push of
a button.
3.  The decision not to include Arden 3rd series texts was made on a
number of grounds:
* Any text of Shakespeare used in a publishing venture (even the First
Folio) is subject to a process of mediation from a corpus of dramatic
work that is by its very nature unattainable in a perfect form. The aim
of the Arden Shakespeare CD-ROM is not to present a final text of
Shakespeare; it is, at least partly, to reveal the process of mediation
insofar as possible and invite debate about it from student and teacher;
and, furthermore, to invite debate about Shakespeare's use of the
materials that were transformed into his plays and poems.
* The product took three years from concept to delivery. In 1995 the
Arden third series had hardly started. Even if the disc were to have
been released in 1997 with the possible Arden 3 texts, there would have
only been four of them.
* There is a huge amount of valuable material in the Arden 2 texts.
Additionally, as the texts go out of print, the CD-ROM will serve as a
valuable archive of a substantial and important part of Shakespeare
scholarship in the late twentieth century.
4.  Any electronic product is a compromise between functional
flexibility and user-friendliness. We did not aim the product at
academics working at highly technically advanced institutions such as
Pigman's (Cal Tech), but at the vast majority of other academic
organisations which have an interest in teaching and studying
Shakespeare in new and innovative ways. Thus, some of the potential
searches that might have been possible have been limited - but it is
nevertheless quite possible to search for variants on "solid flesh" by
using the widely-used "wildcard" type of search - i.e. "s*d flesh".
5.  Pigman has out-of-date information on the cost of the disc. We have
recently introduced a price of 


Re: All-Male H5

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0666  Friday, 17 July 1998.

[1]     From:   Geralyn Horton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 16 Jul 1998 15:54:30 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0660  Re: All-Male H5

[2]     From:   Penelope Rixon <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Fridayy, 17 Jul 1998 09:14:47 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0660  Re: All-Male H5


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Geralyn Horton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 16 Jul 1998 15:54:30 -0400
Subject: 9.0660  Re: All-Male H5
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0660  Re: All-Male H5

> I am rather dubious about the total success of the all-male production
> of Henry V - at least for the performance I saw.  The groundlings were
> encouraged to be as noisy and responsive as it is supposed they were in
> Shakespeare's day - and that is OK with me - but modern audiences,
> especially young people, do not have sufficient experience to know how
> to respond appropriately.  In this production, Mistress Quickly was
> played as a comic drag act, and got huge laughs.

Maybe the audience gets the performance it deserves.  The male Mistress
Quickly I saw, along with other with enthusiastic but well-behaved
groundlings-presumably the same actor --- was a very convincing female,
and the low comedy was on target rather than over the top.  I saw 5
Quicklies last year: 1 H5, 2H4's, 2MW's --- and s/he was about the best
of the lot.

> when the splendid young man playing Princess Katherine
> came on, he was received in a similar manner by the largely teenage
> (school party) groundlings - and this, I am certain, is not what
> Shakespeare would have intended or wanted.  The wooing scene in this
> play is one of Shakespeare's most delightful and Katherine must be taken
> seriously as a 'woman' if it is to be truly appreciated.  To have a
> rowdy 'nudge nudge wink wink' audience response is to destroy the magic.

Indeed-and shame on those groundlings!  That splendid young man did a
charming and touching wooing scene for us, and was quite believable as a
shy royal teen of the female persuasion.

G. L. Horton <http://www.tiac.net/users/ghorton>

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Penelope Rixon <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Fridayy, 17 Jul 1998 09:14:47 -0000
Subject: 9.0660  Re: All-Male H5
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0660  Re: All-Male H5

I saw this production too, but was luckier than Judy Lewis in that there
weren't hordes of teenage girls in the audience when I went.  I thought
the actor playing Katherine was brilliant, and actually forgot that he
was a boy.  He avoided any trace of camp and played the part as a
desperately embarrassed teenager, and the audience seemed completely
involved in the experience.

My problem was the booing which greeted any appearance of the French
with corresponding cheering when the English entered.  That kind of
response flattens the play and irons out all the complexity.  For some
reason, the Globe management seems hell-bent on encouraging the audience
to behave as though they're at the pantomime, and you see people gearing
up to boo and hiss even when they obviously don't feel the emotional
need to do so.  It's a terrible pity, because that theatre space is
magic, with the capability for all sorts of effects, but its potential
is, I feel, being stifled by current policy.

Penny Rixon
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Nicholas Hynter's NYC Twelfth Night

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0664  Friday, 17 July 1998.

From:           Richard A. Burt <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 16 Jul 1998 13:49:30 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Nicholas Hynter's NYC Twelfth Night


Is anyone planning to see it?  Hytner had an interesting essay on
Shakespeare in last Sunday's NY Times.  I look forward to reading
reviews of the production.

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