The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.2149 Monday, 6 December 1999.
Date: Saturday, 4 Dec 1999 15:57:03 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 10.2135 Re: The Most Unkindest Cut
Comment: Re: SHK 10.2135 Re: The Most Unkindest Cut
I recently finished reading "Backward & Forwards: A Technical Manual for
Reading Plays" by David Ball. He takes a delightfully hard line against
cutting plays (especially Shakespeare). His example of "the unkindest
cut" is Hamlet II.i, the scene of Polonius' instructions to Reynaldo.
Ball correctly points out that the audience's reaction to the murder of
Polonius hinges on this scene. If Hamlet kills a doddering old man,
then Hamlet is a villain. If Hamlet assassinates a master spy, then
Hamlet is a hero. Yet, how often is this short scene axed?
Ball concludes his brief section on cuts with the lines:
So think twice before you cut those seventy-five lines. Chances
are they have more to do with the play than you do.
I'm wondering what other list member's may think of Ball's little
pamphlet. I enjoyed it and it will certainly color how I look at all
scripts in the future.