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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: February ::
Re: Touchstone (Jesters)
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0248  Saturday, 13 February 1999.

[1]     From:   Melissa D. Aaron <
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        Date:   Friday, 12 Feb 1999 11:28:52 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0244 Re: Touchstone (Jesters)

[2]     From:   David Evett <
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        Date:   Friday, 12 Feb 1999 12:15:11 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0244 Re: Touchstone (Jesters)

[3]     From:   Evelyn Gajowski <
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        Date:   Friday, 12 Feb 1999 14:42:59 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0225 Re: Touchstone (Jesters)


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Melissa D. Aaron <
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Date:           Friday, 12 Feb 1999 11:28:52 -0500
Subject: 10.0244 Re: Touchstone (Jesters)
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0244 Re: Touchstone (Jesters)

>>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.
>
>I wonder at this statement. If Kemp sold his share in the Globe property
>shortly after the theatre was built in 1599, and if chronologies are
>correct in asserting that AYL is from that first Globe season, would the
>part not be Robert Armin's?

The New Variorum Shakespeare edition of AYLI grapples with this issue:
if I am remembering correctly, there is some evidence that Armin was a
member of another company at this time, hence Touchstone was not
(probably) written for Armin.

Melissa D. Aaron
University of Michigan
http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mdaaron/index.html

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
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Date:           Friday, 12 Feb 1999 12:15:11 -0500
Subject: 10.0244 Re: Touchstone (Jesters)
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0244 Re: Touchstone (Jesters)

I think I have commented on this list before about the brilliant series
of Shakespearean clowns represented on the Stratford (Ont) stage by
Edward Atienza.  Atienza was intrinsically a [Robert] Arminian
performer-he also played King John, and his Feste was almost as
alienated and melancholy as his wispy, evanescent Fool in Lear.  But his
Touchstone was laugh-out-loud funny-an amalgam of vaudeville and circus
traditions, with baggy pants, oversize shoes with flapping soles, and a
splendid repertory of grimaces, gestures, and other visual gags, with
which to festoon and point the verbal ones.  I suppose this does suggest
that more than Launce or Gobbo this part requires a gifted clown.

Foolishly,
Dave Evett

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Evelyn Gajowski <
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Date:           Friday, 12 Feb 1999 14:42:59 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 10.0225 Re: Touchstone (Jesters)
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0225 Re: Touchstone (Jesters)

Rumor has it that Branagh suffered the deadly experience of playing
Touchstone to no or few laughs and that this experience influenced his
and Michael Keaton's decision to go for visual as well as verbal humor
on the part of Dogberry in Much Ado: "Michael Keaton and I were agreed
that Dogberry should be not only a verbal but a physical malaprop.  I
suspect that I am not alone in finding the character's play on words
less funny than the the character himself. . . . " (Kenneth Branagh,
"Introduction," xiii, Much Ado Screenplay).

Evelyn Gajowski
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
 

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