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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: February ::
Re: Touchstone (Jesters)
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0232  Thursday, 11 February 1999.

[1]     From:   Steve Neville <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 10 Feb 1999 14:45:20 -0000
        Subj:   RE: SHK 10.0225 Re: Touchstone (Jesters)

[2]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 10 Feb 1999 09:16:48 -0800
        Subj:   SHK 10.0225 Re: Touchstone (Jesters)

[3]     From:   Drew Alan Mason <
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        Date:   Thursday, 11 Feb 1999 07:45:14 +1300
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0223 Q: Touchstone


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Neville <
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Date:           Wednesday, 10 Feb 1999 14:45:20 -0000
Subject: 10.0225 Re: Touchstone (Jesters)
Comment:        RE: SHK 10.0225 Re: Touchstone (Jesters)

Judy Lewis writes:

>Reading the introduction to the screenplay of Much Ado About Nothing, I
>was somewhat astonished to see Branagh's description of Touchstone as
>"one of the great unfunny Shakespearean clowns."

Perhaps Branagh was influenced by Griff Rhys Jones in Christine Edzard's
film. Certainly one of the 'unfunniest'  performances I have ever seen.

Steve Neville

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Wednesday, 10 Feb 1999 09:16:48 -0800
Subject: Re: Touchstone (Jesters)
Comment:        SHK 10.0225 Re: Touchstone (Jesters)

I think we must take Branagh's comments about Touchstone and any other
of Shakespeare's clowns with that proverbial grain of salt.  In the
published screenplay of MUCH ADO he wrote that Dogberry is not funny and
that is why he cut so much of his part.  Branagh adds that he hired
Michael Keyton for the part because Keyton could make the part funny
anyway.

As a thoroughgoing Dogberry fan, I shudder.  I like most of Branagh's
work, but I think his wrong headed here.  Guess it is a matter of taste,
and all that.  Still, I would not take his comments about Touchstone as
anything but eccentric -  UNTIL he does the planned film version of
AYLI.

Mike Jensen

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Drew Alan Mason <
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Date:           Thursday, 11 Feb 1999 07:45:14 +1300
Subject: 10.0223 Q: Touchstone
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0223 Q: Touchstone

Having played Touchstone myself, I happen to agree with Branagh's
comment.  Touchstone CAN be funny, but that is up to what the actor who
is playing the character does, the dialog, by modern standards at least,
is not outrightly funny.  Certainly not as funny as Shakespeare provides
for, say, Feste in Twelfth Night.  Touchstone does become funny once
Audrey enters the scene, due to her bawdy nature certainly.  How funny
is the speech about the degrees of IF, unless the actor does something
physical to complement the speech.  Touchstone, as a character, needs a
lot of interpretation and close work with the director in order to bring
out the subtle humor of the character, it simply cannot be played
straightforward, Of course, what Shakespearean character can?

Interesting to note, Touchstone was originally written for the great
comic actor Will Kemp, who had been taking to improvisation and show
stealing.  Shakespeare sought to keep Kemp within his own terms, and
those of the play.  So the dialog written may not be inherently funny in
order to have kept Kemp on his toes.

Drew Mason
 

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