1999

Re: Jesters


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0277  Wednesday, 17 February 1999.

[1]     From:   Sean Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 16 Feb 1999 05:55:49 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0271 Re: Jesters

[2]     From:   Brian J. Corrigan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 16 Feb 1999 11:30:26 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0271 Re: Jesters

[3]     From:   Abigail Quart <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 16 Feb 1999 17:03:52 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0271 Re: Jesters


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 16 Feb 1999 05:55:49 -0800
Subject: 10.0271 Re: Jesters
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0271 Re: Jesters

Drew Whitehead writes:

>However in Branagh's defence I must add
>that most of the other members of the audience of the movie theatre
>probably didn't feel the same way.  Both Keaton and Ben Elton drew a lot
>of laughs from the audience and I can only assume that that they felt
>comfortable with this sort of "low-brow" humour in an otherwise
>"high-brow" film.  As for Branagh's sense of humour, it can't be that
>off as the rest of the film was delightfully humourous.  Shakespeare's
>clowns are difficult characters, they require close concentration on
>behalf of the audience in order to best understand their humour.  The
>sort of concentration that is not normally required of the average
>movie-going audience.

I seem to recall that when I went to see the film new I was with a group
of friends most of whom don't usually read Shakespeare.  Anyway,
Dogberry's laughs all seemed to come at the end of his speeches, when he
calms down enough to say even one or two of his lines in such a way as
to be understood.  If his humour usually strains the attention of a
movie-going audience, having all his jokes buried in incoherent
overacting certainly does.

Cheers,
Seán.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian J. Corrigan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 16 Feb 1999 11:30:26 EDT
Subject: 10.0271 Re: Jesters
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0271 Re: Jesters

As to Keaton's Dogberry, I too have the same (rather stuffy)
isn't-he-merely-reprising-Beetlejuice reaction I read on this list. I
still believe the horse business (right out of Monty Python's Search for
the Holy Grail) is too much. That said, I also believe the approach is
right. There are some genuinely funny moments here. The coin business on
"God save the foundation", the "Forget not that I am an ass" and other
similar moments are not only well delivered and funny, but they are
funny in that intentionally low-comic style the text calls forth.

Although I too miss the Dogberry moments Branagh has cut, I find enough
in this rendering of the character to enjoy. You are free to gloze that
"rendering" in any manner you choose. Perhaps Keaton is pushing too hard
and trying too much, but it is all pushed in (and admittedly a little
past) the right direction.

I would, however, pay good money never again to have to be exposed to
the attitude that Keanu Reeves' backside makes up for his utter
inability to create a character or deliver a convincing line.

Cheers,
Brian Jay Corrigan

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Abigail Quart <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 16 Feb 1999 17:03:52 -0500
Subject: 10.0271 Re: Jesters
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0271 Re: Jesters

Stephanie Hughes' description of Keaton's Dogberry is perfect. It's a
far out stage performance, utterly inappropriate for film and especially
this film. But that wasn't the only irritation for me. Branagh phoned in
his performance. I could have kicked him.

 

Q: Hamlet's Age

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0325  Friday, 26 February 1999.

From:           Laura Blankenship <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 25 Feb 1999 20:12:17 -0600
Subject:        Hamlet's Age

I have a burning question.  How old is Hamlet anyway?  I've just
finished teaching the play and it seems to be a main concern with my
students.  The graveyard scene indicates he's in his late 20s or early
30s.  Do we trust this?  The reason it bothered my students was that
they thought his behavior often wasn't in line with his supposed age, as
given by the gravedigger.  Any insights would be greatly appreciated.

Laura Blankenship
University of Arkansas

Re: High School Shakespeare

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0323  Friday, 26 February 1999.

[1]     From:   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
        Date:   Thursday, 25 Feb 1999 10:44:03 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0314 Re: High School Shakespeare

[2]     From:   Kenneth Requa <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 25 Feb 1999 21:53:32 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0310 Re: "Soul"; HS Sh.


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Date:           Thursday, 25 Feb 1999 10:44:03 -0500
Subject: 10.0314 Re: High School Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0314 Re: High School Shakespeare

Mark Perew writes that

>While I was underwhelmed with the "Romeo+Juliet" film-it's nothing more
>than eye candy-it was the vehicle which sparked my daughter's interest
>in Shakespeare.

I'm glad to hear that it has, and particularly that it provided an
eventual avenue into his spending time together with his daughter.
However, for all the deficiencies of the film-and it has several,
particularly as a film-I don't know that classifying it as eye candy
serves it, or we who spend our time talking about Shakespeare, well.  It
participates in a range of cultural transactions, some of them quite
sophisticated, that reveal quite a bit about how Romeo is being
understood in culture at the moment.  Dismissing the film as puffery
and/or a distortion of the playtext cuts us off from a clear-eyed
understanding of how the thing works, as film, as performance, as
performance text, and so limits an understanding of our purported
subject.

Kirk Hendershott-Kraetzer

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kenneth Requa <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 25 Feb 1999 21:53:32 EST
Subject: 10.0310 Re: "Soul"; HS Sh.; Hotstaff;
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0310 Re: "Soul"; HS Sh.; Hotstaff;
Characters;
Linguist

>The apparent idea
>is to get both the highly coveted youth audience and the art
>house/scholarly set to both go see the film (I might question how large
>this audience truly is as well). But will they manage?  It seems to me
>that many academics balk at Shakespearean films which merely appropriate
>plot, so could this all backfire?

It seems to me that the idea could work, if some "academics" would
realize that any exploration of Shakespeare is worth seeing because it
is someone else's vision.  Because we can't speak with the author to
discover what his vision really was, and because he never made any films
we can watch, we are forced to explore the plays as each one of us
struggles with what the play really is.

Another positive aspect to all of this transposition is that it
illustrates the universal quality of Shakespeare.  What other author has
had most of his works set in nearly every time period and setting
imaginable.  I think that even if they may have different motives, I
think the filmakers encouraging this sort of Shakespeare is helping to
create a new "branch" of Shakespeare interpretation that cannot be
ignored.

Re: R&J in Lust?

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0324  Friday, 26 February 1999.

From:           Paul S. Rhodes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 25 Feb 1999 08:33:53 -0500
Subject: R&J in Lust?
Comment:        SHK 10.0318 R&J in Lust?

Someone opined:

>Love
>in opposition to lust is a recurrent obsession of the tragedies, except
>in some ways, Romeo and Juliet, though one could argue that their whole
>death-marked love is corrupt.

I write:

How could one argue this?

Paul S. Rhodes

Re: Othello

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0322  Friday, 26 February 1999.

[1]     From:   Ed Taft <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 25 Feb 1999 10:10:40 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Othello

[2]     From:   Peter T. Hadorn <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 25 Feb 1999 14:19:54 -0600
        Subj:   RE: SHK 10.0313 Getting Back . . .


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Taft <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 25 Feb 1999 10:10:40 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Othello

Brian Haylett's comments on the character of Othello seem pretty much on
target to me, though I'm not sure if I agree that Othello lacks
sufficient regard for himself, as both Brian and Arthur Kirsch argue.
After all, Iago successfully "practices" on Cassio, who may be a bit of
a anob and a ladies' man, but certainly does not lack confidence in
himself. But I think that the heart of Brian's comments is "Iago
embodies fears that are already within Othello." One of those fears,
perhaps prejudices would be a better word, is latent misogyny, which
Othello shares with Cassio. Indeed, Hamlet shares it, as good as he may
be in other areas, and so do Lear and Leontes. I would suggest that
through his tragic heroes, Shakespeare often explores the costs to both
society and the individual of this deeply embedded hate toward half of
humankind, and I think he is quite conscious of what he is doing. It may
well be that Shakespeare sees misogyny as the rock on which the ship of
both the family and the state may founder. Such a rock is, of course,
below the surface, but when the ship hits it, it's all over. Might this
be an additional reason for the sea/ship/ storm imagery at the start of
Othello?

--Ed Taft

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter T. Hadorn <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 25 Feb 1999 14:19:54 -0600
Subject: 10.0313 Getting Back . . .
Comment:        RE: SHK 10.0313 Getting Back . . .

I would like to respond to Brian Hayleltt's assertion about Othello:

"Othello's major faults are threefold. First there is the lack of
confidence of the soldier when it comes to courting a woman -
understandable enough. . . ."

I disagree.  I think Othello is very good at wooing young women.
Consider the stories he tells to Desdemona.  They make him look like a
hero and victim; i.e., someone to be admired and pitied.  Just something
a foolish young girl would fall for.  Are we really expected to believe
that he saw the monsters that he says he saw?  In other words, he's very
good at telling stories, particularly ones that serve his purpose.
Consider what he says about the handkerchief.  He claims it has all
these magical powers, but later admits that it was just some
handkerchief his father had given to his mother (5.2.223-34).

I'm reminded, too, of the wooing scene between Henry V and Katherine.
He says to her that he is a soldier and not a lover, and that he is not
good at speaking.  But if that play demonstrates anything it
demonstrates that Harry is a master of words.  With Katherine, he claims
that he is inept at speaking like a lover.  Yet his "ineptness" is
endearing and is meant, I think, to woo us as much as Katherine.

I know I have strayed a bit from Professor Haylett's original point (but
he pushed a button), but I think the point is, I think, that Shakespeare
is saying something about effective leaders (and lovers): they must be
able to manipulate language effectively.  The irony is that Iago is
better at manipulating language.

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