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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: January ::
Re: Literature, Music, Language
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0070  Friday, 15 January 1999.

[1]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Thursday, 14 Jan 1999 12:48:43 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 10.0063 Re: Literature, Music, Language

[2]     From:   Harry Hill <
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        Date:   Thursday, 14 Jan 1999 13:00:17 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0063 Re: Literature, Music, Language

[3]     From:   Takashi Kozuka <
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        Date:   Thursday, 14 Jan 1999 15:53:56 PST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0063 Re: Literature, Music, Language


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Thursday, 14 Jan 1999 12:48:43 -0500
Subject: Re: Literature, Music, Language
Comment:        SHK 10.0063 Re: Literature, Music, Language

Ed Pixley makes an interesting point: 'Theater is truly the most
collaborative of the arts'. But theatre isn't a ART, is it?  Drama is
the art. Theatre/theater is the building in which some forms of that art
take place.

T. Hawkes

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Harry Hill <
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Date:           Thursday, 14 Jan 1999 13:00:17 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 10.0063 Re: Literature, Music, Language
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0063 Re: Literature, Music, Language

Janitors, Housemaids and Francophone Shakespeare Listeners

Ed Pixley's soapbox will perhaps annoy textual scholars a little and
make the historicists, too, grieve, when he tells us about the music and
spectacle of the theatrical experience as really the only true arbiter
of interpretation. He needlessly apologises for what he terms an
unscholarly approach, and gives us in fresh and enthusiastic language
what we must all surely know: that one enters quite a unique world of
imagination and performative reality when one hears/sees realizations of
the inner and outer worlds of dramatic geniuses such as Shakespeare.

On Monday evening of this week I was reminded again of the translingual
power of the 'writing' or 'wrighting' [in the OE sense of 'scop'] found
in Henry V. At Place des Arts in Montreal I performed all the main
speeches of the play with L'Orchestre Metropolitain playing William
Walton's score written for the 1944 Olivier film. Christopher Plummer
had toured with the presentation a few years ago, declaring it at the
time "the hardest thing I've ever done, harder than playing Henry in the
whole play". Voice and illustrative music only, without the visible
pageantry.The usual audience for the Metropolitan Orchestra is mainly
Frenh-speaking, and Shakespeare's text provides hard semantic challenges
for such a group. But some members of that audience who kindly visited
me backstage at the end of the concert were eager to tell me that the
series of vowels and the consonantal patterns of both the 'Once more
unto the breach' and 'This day is called the feast of Crispian'
exhortations brought goose-bumps to the skin and spine even when
individual words were foreign to the mind.

I was reminded of T. S. Eliot uncondescendingly saying that a janitor
could access The Waste Land if he 'let the music drip over him'.  I say
uncondescendingly because janitors do exist and have thoughtful lives,
and so do housemaids with their "damp souls" ["Preludes"], and the rich
resources of such poetry are not to denied to those whose position in
society would seem to preclude the enjoyment of such resources or whose
language is other than English or other than elitely full.

I am naturally interested in documented rebuttals of my position on this
matter.

        Harry Hill
        Montreal

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Takashi Kozuka <
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Date:           Thursday, 14 Jan 1999 15:53:56 PST
Subject: 10.0063 Re: Literature, Music, Language
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0063 Re: Literature, Music, Language

>For the above reasons, a play can never be said to be complete until
>it is in production before an audience.

I do NOT mean to disagree with Pixley.  This is just to focus the issue
from another angle by introducing Anthony B. Dawson's argument:

It is a common place these days to say that Shakespeare's plays were
written to be performed, but this too is an oversimplification.  In
order to be performed, they first have to be read.  Besides, our current
familiarity with ... [Shakespeare's plays] is generally a consequence of
reading, and certainly our study of ... [them], as well as our judgment
of performances, depends on reading, which is always what drives
interpretation.  Because of the play's intense concern with
theatricality and performance, we could even say that reading it IS
performing it.

This citation is from _Shakespeare in Performance: Hamlet_ (Manchester:
Manchester UP, 1995).

Takashi Kozuka
PhD Student
Centre for the Study of the Renaissance
University of Warwick (UK)
 

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