1998

New on the SHAKSPER Fileserver: SERGEANT SHAKSPER

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0648  Tuesday, 14 July 1998.

From:           Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, July 14, 1998
Subject:        New on the SHAKSPER Fileserver: SERGEANT SHAKSPER


As of today, SHAKSPEReans may retrieve Joe Conlon's essay "Would You
Believe . . . 'Sergeant Shakespeare'?" (SERGEANT SHAKSPER) from the
SHAKSPER file server.

To retrieve  "Would You Believe . . .'Sergeant Shakespeare'?", send a
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Of his essay, Joe Conlon writes,

This is my first posting as a new member of the list. I am offering a
paper I've written for criticism and comment (and for a little help in
researching for a historical novel if possible).  The basic hypothesis
for the paper is that Shakespeare was in either the army or the navy
during the Armada summer of 1588 and that is how and why he moved to
London from Stratford.  Obviously, since the time period involved is the
dark years, there is not much documentary material out there that I've
been able to find.  I am working on a historical novel and want to use
this hypothesis to get Will to London (if it stands up to scrutiny).
I'm trying to find historical, archival, and documentary evidence on any
real characters who may have been Justices of the peace, Constables, or
nobles involved in the recruiting for the crisis of 1588 in the
Stratford and Warwickshire areas.  If anyone on the list can help point
me to some good resources, it would be greatly appreciated.  I also
invite criticism and discussion over the attached paper.

Joe Conlon, Warsaw, IN, USA
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************************************************************************
Would You Believe..."Sergeant Shakespeare"?
Joe Conlon, 11 July 1998

On February 2, 1585, William Shakespeare's twins Hamnet and Judith were
baptized in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-Upon-Avon.  In 1592 the
poet Robert Greene alluded to Shakespeare in his pamphlet "A Groatsworth
of Wit Bought With a Million of Repentance."  The period between these
two dates is known as the "Lost Years" or "The Dark Years" because of
the total lack of hard evidence as to what William Shakespeare was doing
during this time.  Sometime during this period he left home, wife, and
three children in Stratford and began his stage career in London.
Scholars have long attempted to determine how and why this decision was
made, and countless theories have been proposed.  It is my hypothesis
that Shakespeare, like countless other Englishmen, was caught up in the
national crisis caused by the threat of the Spanish Armada during the
summer of 1587 and was either drafted into the militia or volunteered
for duty to protect his homeland from the threat of foreign invasion.
In short, he became a soldier, was posted to the London area, and was
discharged when the threat was ended.  Once the boy had seen the big
city, it is hard to send him back to the farm.

Qs: Macbeth on Video; Sixth Sense

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0647  Monday, 13 July 1998.

[1]     From:   Thelma English <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 10 Jul 1998 22:02:48 -0700
        Subj:   Macbeth on Video

[2]     From:   Mark Perew <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 11 Jul 1998 18:29:05 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Elizabethan View of Sixth Sense


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thelma English <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 10 Jul 1998 22:02:48 -0700
Subject:        Macbeth on Video

In browsing through The Writing Company video versions of Macbeth
offered in their Shakespeare catalog I find too many choices.  As a
novice, I would appreciate list members' comments on the 1948 Orson
Welles, the 1988 Thames Television (Michael Jayston & Barbara Leigh
Hunt), the 1979 Trevor Nunn (with some RSC members), and the Shakespeare
Video Society version with Jeremy Brett & Piper Laurie.  I have seen the
BBC version but would prefer something that would appeal more to teens.
Rentals seem to be out of the question here in Oregon.  Local colleges
will not allow them off campus so I must purchase my own.  Any comments
on or off the list are welcome.

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

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mark Perew <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 11 Jul 1998 18:29:05 -0700 (PDT)
Subject:        Elizabethan View of Sixth Sense

I've been searching, in vain, for some book or essay that has some
mention of the Elizabethan World View as it pertains to what some folks
call the Sixth Sense, intuition, prescience, foreknowledge, etc.  Would
this have always been viewed as witchcraft and/or demonic?  Was this
accepted in any way as a possible valid sense in the same way that
vision, olfaction, gustation, etc. are understood?

Any pointers or references would be greatly appreciated.

The New Globe 1998

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0645  Monday, 13 July 1998.

From:           Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 11 Jul 1998 18:05:01 -0400
Subject:        The New Globe 1998


I spent a lovely Fourth of July weekend in London, principally to take
in the 1998 Shakespearean productions at The Globe.  It was well worth
it, and the criticisms that follow should be regarded as mere quibbles.

Authenticity Deferred:  I expected the carpet of hazelnut shell compost
to be in place, but it wasn't.  A footnote in the program explains that
this has been postponed until later in the season, as "a trial laying of
substances showed the need for further research."  As the groundlings
customarily relieve their sore feet be sitting on the ground in the yard
during intervals, the research should probably also include an
investigation of the effects of the substance on clothing.

Authenticity Enhanced:  After only one official season of attempting to
recreate the ambiance of the original Globe (at least in Henry V), the
authorities have figured out a way to improve on the original.  They
added a bank of steps running the length of the front of the stage, at
least for AYLI (I don't recall if they were there for M/V).  In addition
to providing seats for the groundlings during the intervals (see above),
this "experiment in the use of the space" (AYLI program note) is used to
facilitate entrances and exits through the yard.  This was done to good
advantage in AYLI, which also used the yard as part of the performance
area for the wrestling match.  But if the goal is to recreate the
original as closely as possible, ....

Authenticity Disregarded:  last season's Henry V used male actors for
the female roles, and it worked in the context of that play (which has
few female characters and none in leading parts), and for the purpose of
showing us as closely as possible what the original looked like.  But
when it comes to female leading roles, a more modern approach is in
order, and thankfully, the producers gave us one.  Anastasia Hille as
Rosalind is especially enchanting:  Bubbly, natural, sexy and oh so
feminine in a way no modern male actor can replicate.  It would be
"interesting" to see a man playing Rosalind dressed as Ganymede
pretending to be Rosalind, but I would rather see Anastasia do it,
especially when she nearly removes her breeches to remind Celia of her
femaleness.  By the way, was the underwear authentic, as it was said to
be in Henry V?  My only criticism of Ms. Hille's performance was that
she wasn't especially believable as a boy ... I didn't imagine that
Orlando thought she was male.  But, on the whole, it is worth a trip
just to see her.

Authenticity Compromised:  Whoever were responsible for Merchant seems
to have gone out of their way to give us a rainbow coalition of actors,
probably to make some vague social or political point.  When the actors
were good it didn't matter, and the good actors happened to be those
whose ethnicity matched the characters:  A German Shylock and an Italian
Launcelot Gobbo.  Both of these were excellent, although I agree Stuart
Manger that Marcello Magni as Launcelot said much more than was "writ
down for him."  And, Stuart take note, in the performance I saw (which
was not the same one you describe-no one tossed bottles on the stage),
Norbert Kentrup (Shylock) also left out the urine/bagpipe lines, so it
probably wasn't a lapse of memory.  I also wonder why these particular
lines were selected for excision.  Kentrup also had an original take on
"My deeds upon my head ..." which suggests that Shylock would have been
driven to mercy by Portia's speech under different circumstances.  My
main objection is to the African/Carribean Lorenzo and  Gratiano and the
dark Indian Salerio, none of whom could match the rest of the cast in
acting skill.  The beginning of II.vi resembled nothing so much as a
minstrel show.  And Kentrup's "You have among you many a purchased
slave...," which he addressed to Gratiano, could not capture the right
tone despite an excellent reading.  As for Mark Rylance as Bassiano ....
well, Mark is a likable person and an agreeable actor, but his range,
which extends all the way from A to B, was not up to the role.  But the
audience was not left in doubt about the sincerity of his passionate
speeches-he raised his voice.  He did get to wear a rather dramatic hat
though, and he likes hats.

A note in response to Steve Urkowitz's inquiry about good restaurants in
Southwark:  You must be kidding!  There is an acceptable pub/restaurant
near The Clink, but you would be better off sticking to the restaurants
north of the river.

Re: Fencing; Stoicism

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0646  Monday, 13 July 1998.

[1]     From:   Ed Taft <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 09 Jul 1998 15:54:54 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Fencing

[2]     From:   Ben R. Schneider <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Mondayy, 13 Jul 1998 08:04:46 +0000
        Subj:   Stoic Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Taft <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 09 Jul 1998 15:54:54 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Fencing

Jay Minnix, via Sean Lawrence, tells us, "The montante was definitely a
groin cut. It was not a fair blow." Aha! I infer that Beatrice's comment
about Benedick refers literally to the wars he is returning from, but
metaphorically, and most directly, to his wit (full of low blows?). If I
am not mistaken, a *cut* was also a *cutting remark* in EME.  Also,
Beatrice may be alluding to why she broke up with Benedick: it could be
his wit, or it could be that the last part of his name got him into
trouble.

Thanks, Sean and Jay.

--Ed Taft

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ben R. Schneider <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Mondayy, 13 Jul 1998 08:04:46 +0000
Subject:        Stoic Hamlet

David Crosby (SHAKSPER 9.0623) agrees with Carol Barton that Hamlet must
be read in the light of "the general breakdown of conventional sources
of religious and civic certitude."   Of course,  but this doesn't rule
out Stoicism as a basis for judging Hamlet's indecision. Stoicism
doesn't require (though it allows) a belief in God or anything else
except one's duty to one's fellow men. Far from backing any established
form of government,, it preaches death to tyrants (like Julius Caesar).
In other words, when all else fails, Stoicism is still there.

Claudius, to judge from his methods (usurpation, regicide, spying) is a
tyrant, and he should be eradicated for that reason alone. Once he knows
that Claudius is guilty of murder.   Hamlet errs in thinking about his
personal  revenge, instead of the welfare of the state.   At least
that's what the Stoics would say.

Ed Taft (also 9.0623)  thinks of Stoicism in terms of Marcus Aurelius,
who is "a far cry from Shakespeare."    It appears  that Marcus was
translated too late to have influenced Shakespeare's plays, and
Shakespeare didn't read much Latin.    Yes,  the Stoic "calm of soul"
which Marcus advocates does not  loom very large in Shakespeare.   But
Marcus also advocates lots of other  Stoic virtues, like rulers putting
their countries'  needs above their personal wishes.

Ed favors Christian Humanism over Stoicism as an influence on
Shakespeare.    Can he list any Christian Humanists living and breathing
in Shakespeare's time?  I don't know any, but  I haven't studied the
matter.    I can list plenty of  Stoics:   Spenser, Sidney,  Jonson,
James I, Elizabeth (translated some of  Seneca's moral epistles) ,
Montaigne,  Castiglione.    Scratch a gentleman and scratch a Stoic.

Ed wonders why, if as I say, Hamlet had a revelation when he saw
Fortinbras on the march, he didn't kill Claudius right away. I would
argue that he was resolved to do so at this point, but was lying in wait
for a good chance. Maybe what came to him in that speech was that if the
deed was to cost him his life, he was ready to die.  Stoics don't worry
about  death; only what posterity will think of them.   Hence Hamlet's
dying request that Horatio tell his story.

Melissa Aaron  (still  9.0623)  is a bit concerned about the way I use
the word "Puritan," when I say "Shakespeare certainly wasn't a Puritan.
"   I mean a common, ordinary, garden-variety "Puritan:"  a person who
frowns on frivolity, sex  and theatres,  who doesn't want any stained
glass,  statues, or crucifixes in church, who wears grey clothes with
white collars and black broad-brimmed hats with truncated cones on top,
like the ones our children dress up as  for Thanksgiving.    Puritan
sects had many names, but they had these idiosyncrasies in common.

It is true that in Shakespeare's time the term was applied  to a great
variety of people, even people like Sir Philip Sidney who opposed the
Queen's kindnesses to papist nations.   I n other respects he was a
typical  upperclass hedonist. Christopher Hill  (_Society  Puritanism in
Pre-Revoltionary England_, 1964) after considering all the various
contexts in which the Elizabethans used the word "Puritan" comes down
hard on what  he considers the dominant meaning, which is the one I use.
Puritanism, Hill  maintains,  is a distinct cultural movement composed
of tradesmen, craftsmen, and small independent farmers who believe in
three "cardinal virtues:  thrift, accumulation and industry.  "I imagine
that Puritans were easily discernible in the city of London because of
their drab costumes.  Shakespeare ridicules Puritans, thus defined ,in
Shylock, who can't stand music, parties, or idleness; in Malvolio, who
wants there to be no more cakes and ale; and in Falstaff, who says it's
no sin to labor in one's vocation. Jonson ridicules Puritans in
Zeal-of-the Land Busy.

Yours ever,
BEN SCHNEIDER

Re: Seizures

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0644  Monday, 13 July 1998.

[1]     From:   Ed Taft <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 10 Jul 1998 14:49:15 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Caesar's Seizure

[2]     From:   Andrew Walker White <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 10 Jul 1998 22:11:27 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Epilepsy & Othello

[3]     From:   Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 11 Jul 1998 18:27:38 -0400
        Subj:   Seizures, etc


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Taft <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 10 Jul 1998 14:49:15 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Caesar's Seizure

Steve Sohmer's detailed description of the latter half of *JC* 1.2
provides an insightful link to the history plays that Shakespeare had
just finished writing. In the Henriad, one major theme is mythic memory
and the recall of an ideal past that never in truth existed. It could be
argued that in *JC* Shakespeare turns to an exploration of the origins
of mythic belief. As Steve implies, Caesar's "swoon" could be
interpreted as an "angel's kiss" or it could be seen, as Casca does, as
the result of "bad air."  Caesar is beginning to think of himself as a
God in JC, and it is hard-no, it's impossible-from the text to tell if
he is more than humanly insightful or if he is a vain, self-centered
fool. He seems to be both at different times. Caesar's death is a
"sacrifice" (for Rome?), and it is engineered by Brutus, who, like
Pontius Pilate, can see no reason to kill Caesar but kills him anyway.
And, as countless commentators point out, Caesar's spirit seems to
dominate the rest of the play, even though he himself is dead.  Or is
he, since his spirit visits Brutus just before battle?

I guess what I want to suggest is that this high school play that we
think we've got pretty well figured out and that no longer receives
nearly as much critical attention as many other Shakespeare plays, might
be worth another look. The play *may* suggest that Shakespeare was fully
aware of Christianity as a myth, in the (post)modern sense of the word,
an interpretation that receives at least some force from *A Funeral
Elegy*, lines 561-568, which seem to say that belief in an afterlife is
"the weak comfort of the hapless"(!)

--Ed Taft

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew Walker White <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 10 Jul 1998 22:11:27 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Epilepsy & Othello

This may be a late submission, but there are several unflattering
references to Caesar's epilepsy in _Julius Caesar_, which indicates that
for some, at least, it was regarded as a weakness, and even a sign of
effeminacy.  At least that's how Caesar seems to come off when the
conspirators recall fits past.

See how that fits in with Iago's seeming ability to know when Othello
will have a fit, how to bring one on, and how he views Othello as a man
vulnerable to base emotions.  Might be a good tack, among others.

Cheers,
Andy White
Arlington, Va

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 11 Jul 1998 18:27:38 -0400
Subject:        Seizures, etc

Steve Sohmer's observation that Caesar's "angry spot" could be nevus
flammeus reminded me that the description of Bardolph's nose in HenIV
and HenV looks a lot like rhinophyma, which Dorland's defines as "a form
of rosacea characterized by redness, sebaceous hyperplasia and nodular
swelling and congestion of the skin of the nose."  I wonder if WS had a
special interest in dermatology.

However, I disagree with Steve's diagnosis of nevus flammeus, which is a
chronic, not a recurring, condition (usually a birth mark), also called
capillary hemangioma and, more commonly, "strawberry mark" (Dorland's
again).  I believe that the mark on M.S. Gorbachev's forehead is an
example.  I think it highly improbable that nevus flammeus would be a
sign of epileptic seizure.

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