1998

Re: Various Hamlet Postings

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0588  Wednesday, 24 June 1998.

[1]     From:   Tom Clayton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 23 Jun 1998 11:58:45
        Subj:   RE 9.0559 . . . 0575 on Hamlet: Riv2 5.2.395 ff.

[2]     From:   Stephanie Hughes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 23 Jun 1998 09:45:09 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0575  Re: Various Hamlet Postings

[3]     From:   Sean Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 23 Jun 1998 09:56:15 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0575  Re: Various Hamlet Postings

[4]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 23 Jun 1998 18:20:55 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0575  Re: Various Hamlet Postings

[5]     From:   Steve Urkowitz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 23 Jun 1998 21:55:55 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0559  Re: Various Hamlet Postings


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tom Clayton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 23 Jun 1998 11:58:45
Subject:        RE 9.0559 . . . 0575 on Hamlet: Riv2 5.2.395 ff.

Re: SHK 9.0559 . . . 0575 Various Hamlet Postings concerning "He was
likely, had he been put on, / To have proved most royal[ly F]; and for
his [whose?] passage, . . . / Take up the body [Q1, F; bodies Q2]"

[9.0559 Terence Hawkes suggests the following:

Fortinbras:     Let four captains
Bear Hamlet like a soldier to the stage,
For he [i.e., Hamlet] was likely, had he been put on,
To have prov'd most royal; and for his [i.e. Claudius's] passage,
The soldier's music and the rite of war
Speak loudly for him.
Take up the bodies [of Hamlet and Claudius]. . .
(V, 2, 400-406, Arden edition)]

Trying to catch up a little in a hurry, I caught the two groups of
postings referred to above and abbreviate so as to spare as much
redundancy as possible.

The importing of Claudius into the speech, suggested by Terence Hawkes,
seems grammatically, thematically, dramatically, and metrically
gratuitous, unless "his" is thought to be a pronoun desperately in
search of an unspecified antecedent. Even the lack of metrical stress on
"his" makes "Hamlet" the antecedent as "he" is otherwise (the line is
metrically irregular in Q2--and more extensively variant in Q1--in ways
that do not affect the lack of metrical stress on "his").

Only Q2 has "[Take vp the] bodies," where Q1 and F have "bodie/y." The
singular "body" continues the explicit emphasis on the prince at the
expense of sense: "the sight" that "becomes the field[s Q1]" must
include not only the prince's body but all the "bodies"-with "bodies"'
twice-practical emphasis as well as its logical relation to "such a
sight."

For what it is worth, Q1 seems to show corruption and authority by
turns, here, as well as in many other places; whereas the Folio seems
sophisticated, and Q2 original and authoritative. Those of alternative
persuasions will see special art in Q1 by originality and uniqueness,
and in F by afterthought and revision.

As for alternative referents in performance, a paraphrase of Wilde may
not come amiss: even things that are sound can be staged. In any case,
Occam's razor has to be chucked into the tall grass to make the
necessary alternative identifications.

Cheers,
Tom

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephanie Hughes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 23 Jun 1998 09:45:09 -0700
Subject: 9.0575  Re: Various Hamlet Postings
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0575  Re: Various Hamlet Postings

Sorry for confusing both Sean and Laura. The following apparent quote is
my own statement. I guess somehow I managed to send it with the ikons
for e-quotes. (Hey, now there's a way to lend oneself importance!)

> >In Hamlet's day, regicide was a crime at least as hideous as parricide,
> >perhaps even worse. However secular Hamlet (or Shakespeare) may appear,
> >he would be taking an awful risk. Hamlet was between a rock and a hard
> >place: if he didn't revenge his father he had failed by one set of
> >values, yet if he were to murder the Lord's anointed in cold blood he
> >would fail most dangerously by another set.

Laura wrote:
>I agree these are the principles at work, but I don't think killing
>Claudius would necessarily "count" as regicide.

Not to us perhaps, but to Shakespeare, with his conservative attitude
towards the sanctity of hierarchy (or at least, the attitude he gives
his most serious characters), killing the Lord's annointed would give
pause, at the very least (which was Hamlet's undoing; he paused). By
this standard, the Monarch was the Lord's annointed; whether he got his
crown by fair means or foul was beside the point. By this tradition, one
may have been engendered by the foulest villain, but to kill him would
still be parricide, and send one to one of the chillier levels of hell.

Claudius' brother
> Hamlet Sr. was the Lord's anointed, and having an heir male of his body,
> Hamlet as the first son was next in the anointment line.  In Richard
> III, Richard must destroy the little princes in order to have the
> appearance of legitimacy or anointedness.  The same divine succession
> applies here: Claudius would have had to kill Hamlet to be the "right"
> kind.

Which is the shadow/substance dichotomy that Shakespeare plays with
throughout his entire oeuvre. We're not talking appearance, here, we're
talking reality. Hamlet is concerned with regicide, with killing the
king, the Lord's annointed. Considering the nasty morality of his
environment, it is, perhaps, a nice point, but that's why we love him.
Maybe the moral tracts he read at Wittenburg proved to be his undoing.

(Was there anything in the secular law of Denmark that would have
> given Claudius a legalistic, though unholy, claim to succession?  Would
> Shakespeare's audience have known this law/acknowledged it as proper?)
> And doesn't the play mention that Claudius has not yet had a formal
> coronation, which would be the only ceremony that might supersede the
> blemish of his own regicidal succession?

Does the play mention that there's been no coronation? I don't recall.
In any case, the history of the period is filled with patently illegal
usurpations of the throne that were later patched up with propaganda,
marriages and the rewriting of history; the Lancastrian  followed by the
Tudor, to name but the closest in time and location to Shakespeare's
audience. His audience would certainly be aware of such issues.

> Whatever Hamlet's sticking point was, then, the risk of being a damned
> regicide is not part of it.  Instead, he is a legitimate heir who would
> be fully justified in slaughtering the usurper.  In my view, then, fact
> that natural, secular, and divine law would all countenance, or even
> reward, Hamlet's killing of Claudius.  This throws into high relief the
> fact that it is some element in Hamlet's individual character, his
> psyche, that cannot be brought to this murder.

And that element is his essential moral nature, his innate faith that
when the Bible states that it is a sin of the first degree to murder the
Lord's annointed, unlike the villains Claudius and Richard III, he can't
just shake it off. He is caught between a rock and a hard place, his
rightful role as monarch plus his duty to his father against the fact
that Claudius is now the King.

As for the attitutde of the time, we mustn't forget that the Court would
not have taken kindly to a staged presentation in which a charismatic
protagonist is proved to be justified in doing away with the Lord's
annointed, whatever the justification. Elizabeth's position was hedged
with many similar equivocations. Her position would have been that
Hamlet had better keep hands off Claudius, no matter what he did to get
the throne.

BTW, the discussion about who was the intended recipient of the fancy
military funeral at the end has been most interesting. I have always
accepted it as a given that it was Hamlet that got the funeral, but
since Claudius was, in fact, the king, it would certainly have been he
who would have been given the state funeral. We feel that Hamlet is the
one who should have it, both for theatrical effect and because we know
he deserves it.

Perhaps the author left it ambiguous on purpose. Unlike the film
audience of today, his audience would not have seen who it was that was
being given the cannonade that, no doubt, ended the play.

Stephanie H.

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 23 Jun 1998 09:56:15 -0700
Subject: 9.0575  Re: Various Hamlet Postings
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0575  Re: Various Hamlet Postings

Hi,

I just wanted to note that Laura Fargas has wrongfully ascribed a
paragraph on Claudius to me.  I seem to be taking credit (or is it
blame?) for everyone's ideas around here.  It makes me feel like the
medieval Aristotle, taking credit for all sorts of things he hadn't
thought up himself, or the fictional P.D.Q.  Bach, depending on your
point of view.

Cheers,
Sean.

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 23 Jun 1998 18:20:55 -0400
Subject: 9.0575  Re: Various Hamlet Postings
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0575  Re: Various Hamlet Postings

Sean Lawrence writes:

'I take "historical situatedness" to refer to the historicity of Dasein
in Heidegger.  Our being is found historically, within time, where our
only retentions are those things available to us in our past, and they
are therefore the only potentials we can project into our future.'

May I pursue this a bit further?  Do you think that when Professors of
English use "situated" rather than "placed," they are consciously
referring to Heidegger's "historicity of Dasein"? I'd be glad to hear
that "situated" is a philosophical pointer, and that I have a good
philosophical reason for not liking the word.

Yours, Bill Godshalk

[5]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Urkowitz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 23 Jun 1998 21:55:55 EDT
Subject: 9.0559  Re: Various Hamlet Postings
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0559  Re: Various Hamlet Postings

Terence Hawkes suggests that Claudius is "surely" the subject of the
latter end of Fortinbras' last speech.  I'm not sure what the rhetorical
figure is called, but I've noticed that often the words "certainly,"
"obviously," and "surely" are used when there is no evidence to support
a claim.  We might translate "surely" in this case to mean something
like "It may be that an actor could force an interpretation of the
speech in order to produce this meaning for an audience."  Professor
Hawkes offers a neat reading for the actor.  But the delight of the
acting game is that "perhaps" has more appeal than "surely."  Such
interpretation is art, not law.  (And I applaud it.)

Ever,
Steve Artlawitz

Re: Autolycus

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0587  Wednesday, 24 June 1998.

From:           Clifford Stetner <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 23 Jun 1998 08:29:38 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Autolycus


For anyone that recalls this month old question:

For Prof. Laroque whose book: Shakespeare's Festive World: Elizabethan
Seasonal Entertainment and the Professional Stage.  Trans. Janet Lloyd.
Cambridge: Cambridge U P, 1991, was invaluable, I found references to
the etymology of Autolycus in:

"there is a self, and a wolf also, in his name," ...his first act is to
"con the clown by enacting the part of his own victim"

Nevo, Ruth.  Shakespeare's Other Language.  New York: Methuen, 1987. p.
122

"The self and the wolf in Autolycus are preserved by the fiction of The
Winter's Tale from doing evil.  Unlike the lion [Leontes] and the bear
of the play, the wolf is not predatory or molests only where no real
harm  is done.  This, I believe, is because Autolycus represents a
factor that must be preserved: he represents one side of the necessary
knife edge balance' between integration and disintegration
psychodynamics has discovered in all creative effort, the leaven of
malice necessary in all human creativity."

Sokol, B. Art and Illusion in The Winter's Tale. Manchester: Manchester
U P, 1994. p. 179

For Alison Horton: I found classical sources for Autolycus in

Apollonius the Argonautica  Book II
The Iliad: Book X
The Odyssey Book XIX, XXI, XXIV
Plutarch  Lucullus

I wish I had had time to pursue the werewolf angle you mentioned. I
believe it may be relevant to my interpretation of the rogue as a lord
of misrule.

For Chris Stroffolino:

I don't think that "Autolycus" has anything to do with "ought to like
us," but I do think it may be a hint to read him as  "autobiographicus"

For Karen Pirnie:

I did not make use of Barbara Mowat's paper because her emphasis on the
printed text puts the character into the cultural context of the first
folio of 1623, and my focus was on the public theater of 1611.

Thanks and a happy summer to all.

DC in Shakspeare Saturation

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0585  Wednesday, 24 June 1998.

From:           Jimmy Jung <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 22 Jun 1998 17:20:02 -0400
Subject:        DC in Shakspeare Saturation


This message may become untimely during the SHAKSPER Hiatus, but
Professor Cook provides an invaluable service and deserves every
vacation he gets.

I, for the longest time, assumed that the center of the Shakespearean
universe was Stratford, or maybe London or New York.  To my surprise,
its right here in Washington DC.

Currently, there are 5 companies performing 9 different Shakespeare
plays (obviously some in repertory).  It's quite a feast, with prices
ranging from free to $60, and the opportunity to see at least three
rarely produced plays.

The Royal Shakespeare Company is currently camped out at the Kennedy
performing Henry VIII, Cymbeline, Hamlet (as well as Everyman and
Krapp's Last Tape).  Being uncertain if I would ever get the chance to
see HVIII again, I opted this creaky production, rather than the more
warmly received Hamlet.  And when I say creaky, I mean it, the stage
seem to clatter with stomping and slamming.  Naturally, reviewers in
Washington, have compared it to an exercise in spin control, with Henry
trying to politically manipulate the scandal of his divorce.  To me, it
seemed at its best when the production looked at the impact of divorce
on the people involved.  Henry's most powerful moment was as he sat in
complete and painful silence as the woman he is turning away tears at
our hearts, while pleading her case.  Without a doubt it is Queen
Katharine whose portrayal keeps the show afloat (sorry, no program, no
name). Occasionally, the stage transforms itself into a brilliant gold,
other times, the words "ALL IS TRUE" loom over the stage.  Could someone
more informed that I tell me if the phrase has some specific source or
meaning?   I also was wondering if anyone else who saw the production
noticed Queen Anne put a foretelling hand to her throat in her last
entrance (or did I imagine it?)

I'm also counting the RSC's Cymbeline as a rarely produced play and The
Washington Shakespeare Company's production of Pericles.  There has been
some debate in my family about the need for Shakespearean productions to
"re-set" the play's in other eras; but compared to the pomp and
pageantry of the RSC's Henry VIII, setting Pericles in the 60's and 70's
is a relief.  The episodic aspect of the play is curiously reinforced by
a corresponding movement through time, represented in staging, costume
and music.  During the play, we watch pot smoking hippies, become
cocaine snorting yuppies.  There is also a corresponding movement
through space; that is, the stage actually moves.  The production is
staged in a warehouse, with eight separate "stage areas."  The audience
is invited to follow Pericles as his journey from Tyre to half a dozen
other countries and cities, including two ship-board scenes, one of
which may have you reaching for the dramamine.  Exciting staging and an
exciting cast make one of Shakespeare's "bad" plays worth seeing.

One of the coolest things about seeing the Shenandoah Shakespeare
Express is that you can sit on the stage.  They are currently performing
Richard III, Taming of the Shrew, and Measure for Measure.  Richard the
Third has received a shade more attention, because Richard is being
played by a woman.  While standing in the hallway, I heard a woman say
that having a woman play Richard made all of his motivations clear, but
for me, the fascinating aspect of the production was how it seemed to
make absolutely no difference.  Kate Norris simply makes a mean Richard
(no program, but they have a web site).  I suspect that many folks on
this list are more familiar with SSE than I, but if not; they are a cast
of 11, who perform all the roles in the three plays they are currently
performing.  Needless to say, there is some doubling.  Perhaps the most
fascinating and amazingly convincing cast doubling was seeing Scott Nath
as both Queen Margaret and the young Prince of Wales.  If I make it back
to see taming of the Shrew, I wonder how it will be to see Kate
Norris/Richard III as Kate.

Creative shopping has lead to some reasonable prices for these tickets
(even the overpriced RSC), but nothing beats the Shakespeare Theater's
production of Alls Well for free. Originally staged 3 or 4 years ago,
the most notable change is the casting of Sabrina LeBeauf for Helena (I
believe it was Kelly McGillis before).  You get a Helena whose youth and
excitement seem more suited for the strange collection of obstacles
Helena must overcome, but some of her other characteristics seem too
giddy, too teenage. It made me realize the tough middle ground required
to play these young heroines who must be mature enough to survive the
risks they take up for love, but young enough to take up those risks in
the first place.  Another interesting comparison is how the Shakespeare
Theater "modifies" plays for the wider audience of the summer run.
Scenes with Paroles seemed played a little broader, and I don't
rememeber Helena being that suddenly, obviously and comically pregnant.
The staging is particularly interesting, as there is a "chorus" of
masked hooded white figures that hover and pose during most of the
scenes in the play.

Both the All's Well Production and Henry VIII seemed to have action that
drifted past the boundaries of the play "proper."  All's Well, had a
young version of Bertram and Helena who played together before the
lights went down.  In fact they played during announcements read from
the stage and a drawing for T-shirts.  At the intermission, the lights
came up, but Helena remained on stage in relative darkness, continuing
to read a her letter from Bertram.  During the intermission of Henry
VIII, women came out to hang laundry and chat, well before the play
"officially" resumed.  I found both cases worked to draw me a little
closer into the play, difusing that formal boundary of the lights coming
down and suddenly transitioning from "reality" to "play,"  but I was
wondering if this device is recently fashionable, having seen it twice
in as many weeks.

The ninth production (and fifth company) is another version of Hamlet
being produced at the Keegan Theater, on the Virginia side of the city.

Perhaps knowing of the Shakespeare glut planned for early summer, The
Shakespeare Theater itself has elected to do Tennessee Williams in their
home space, The Lansburg Theater.  I would not have gone, except for
having a subscription ticket.  That would have been my mistake.
Elizabeth Ashley is great in a role that seems to ominously echo her own
life.  THAT IS NOT TO SAY THAT I ENDORSE TOO MANY NON-SHAKSPEARE
PRODUCTIONS FROM A COMPANY THAT BEARS HIS NAME, but it is still worth
seeing.  Could someone pass a note to Michael Kahn, I understand he is
probably sick of doing the same plays over and over, but I subscribe
cause I like Shakespeare.  By the way, if you have seen the
advertisement in the post, the action at the bottom of the photo, that
is being obscured by ticket prices and times is her placing her hand in
the "poor" boy's pants.

jimmy

As an aside, having seen Henry VIII and Pericles, I realized there are
only four plays I haven't seen.  Eventually, I believe I will see The
Winter's Tale, and a production of King John is planned in the city next
year.  So let me suggest to Michael Kahn either Timon or Titus as a fine
addition to next years schedule.  They may seem like odd choices, but
what likelihood do I ever have of seeing them?

Re: Iconography/Coriolanus

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0586  Wednesday, 24 June 1998.

[1]     From:   Ron Ward <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 23 Jun 1998 16:26:24 +1200 (NZST)
        Subj:   Re: Iconography

[2]     From:   Chris J. Fassler <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 23 Jun 1998 10:15:41 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Iconography/Coriolanus


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ron Ward <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 23 Jun 1998 16:26:24 +1200 (NZST)
Subject:        Re: Iconography

My comment and original question included a rather sarcastic sounding
comment which nevertheless produced an interesting note from Syd Kasten.

My comment with respect to Coriolanus was; "with its implicit lampooning
of the democratic process of elections may be hard for those keen on the
"American way" to swallow."

Although I may well be taken to task for such a geralisation I had in
mind the election of Eisenhower an ex army General, as were several
earlier Presidents. Certainly the administrative side of American
politics were unknown to Shakespeare but the inherent need in most
modern democratic systems to use publicity machines to sell a candidate
is something which creates its own problems and which S seemed to
understand. He may of course be seen as toadying to the monarchy of the
day, but I doubt if anyone would accept that proposition, yet within the
reign of the monarch following that in which S died the commons of
England took over government. Any connection is decidedly unproveable.

The Greek system of selecting administrators by ballot would seem to
have another set of problems attached to it.

A one or two party system does seem to be much less democratic than one
which has no restriction on parties.

Anyway, Whether my suggestion is accepted or not, it may be more
important to view the less popular plays as unfashionable rather than
inferior. They may be simply saying things we would rather not hear.

Ron Ward

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris J. Fassler <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 23 Jun 1998 10:15:41 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Iconography/Coriolanus

Colleagues,

First, whether you see the political message(s) of _Coriolanus_ as
primarily "lampooning" republican democratic structures (Ron Ward) or as
portraying "the class struggle" in a way that makes the populus appear
"weak and unworthy" (Syd Kasten), either view of the play's politics
make it unlikely to be a crowd-pleaser today.  (And in the US-where, of
course, we don't HAVE socio-political classes-the latter is not only
unpopular, but incomprehensible.)

More important, I'm intrigued by Kasten's description of last year's
Jerusalem Festival production and its quasi-fascist portrayals.  If the
tribunes and the citizenry were blackshirts and Aufidius was a mob boss,
then how were Martius and the Roman patricians depicted?  I saw a
generally very good production in Denver several years ago that really
ran with the fascistic themes, making Martius/Coriolanus out to be an
unsuccessful dictator, complete with swasticas and Nuremburg rallies and
the like.  Is there a published review of the Berkoff production?

Thanks.

Cordially,
Chris Fassler

Shakespeare Bulletin

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0584  Wednesday, 24 June 1998.

From:           James P. Lusardi <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 22 Jun 1998 14:53:11 -0500 (CDT)
Subject:        Shakespeare Bulletin


For those who don't know or don't subscribe to Shakespeare Bulletin, a
Journal of Performance Criticism and Scholarship (now in its 17th year).

The Spring 1998 issue (16.2) is just off the press.  It includes:

Alan Dessen's overview of an interesting 1997 season--in the UK and US.

A special unit on The Shakespeare Theatre (DC) Othello, featuring:
  --Miranda Johnson-Haddad's review, which discusses changes in the
production over the course of the run;
  --an exclusive interview with Patrick Stewart on playing Othello;
  --Homer Swander's reflections on the Stewart/Jude Kelly version.

New York and regional reviews of Shakespeare productions--from Cambridge
to Ashland.

An announcement of a new exhibition on the Rose Theatre site in London.

In the section on film, Robert F. Willson Jr.'s "Hunchbacked Fuhrer"--on
the Loncraine-McKellen Richard III.

Also book reviews and listings of Events.

SB remains a great bargain among journals:  $15 (US) for one year (4
48-page issues), $30 for two years, etc.  No surcharge for mailing to
overseas subscribers.

Make out check or money order to Shakespeare Bulletin.  Send to J. P.
Lusardi and J. Schlueter, Co-Editors, Shakespeare Bulletin, Lafayette
College, Easton, PA 18042.  Phone: (610) 330-5245, e-mail:
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