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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: November ::
Re: Winters Tale and the Bear
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.2007  Tuesday, 16 November 1999.

[1]     From:   Melissa D. Aaron <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 16 Nov 1999 08:16:50 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1998 Winters Tale and the Bear

[2]     From:   Elizabeth Williamson <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 16 Nov 1999 11:29:31 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1998 Winters Tale and the Bear


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Melissa D. Aaron <
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Date:           Tuesday, 16 Nov 1999 08:16:50 -0800
Subject: 10.1998 Winters Tale and the Bear
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1998 Winters Tale and the Bear

>I am interested to learn if there is any record of a live bear being
>used in a production of The Winters Tale. I have a record of Anthony
>Quayle reverting to the traditional procedure of using a live bear in
>1948 but can find no description or whether his experiment was a
>success, nor any evidence of a "traditional" performance. If you could
>help I should be delighted. Patrick Melville

I'm pretty sure we've got an archive on this, don't we?--as it's come up
before.  Whether or not the bear in WT is real is an old argument, going
back to Paul Monkemeyer at least.  W.J. Lawrence has an essay on this in
"Those Nut-Cracking Elizabethans,"  etc.  I know I promised to say more
about this on a previous occasion, so here goes-

There are three plays with bears in them and one masque.  Almost all of
them crop up in 1610/11.  It turns out that there had been an Arctic
expedition the previous year which brought back three white bears.  One
of them escaped from Paris Garden and mauled a child.  Henslowe and
Alleyn around this time are given payments for the upkeep of "two white
bears and a young lion"-the two remaining white bears? The chronology of
the following is a bit up in the air, but in the same year, the King's
Men revive Mucedorus,  with an expanded role for a white bear, the
masque of Oberon is performed (two white bears and the King's Men as the
satyrs), and Winter's Tale is performed.

The tricks in Mucedorus,  including tumbling tricks, are sufficiently
complex that one would not want to trust them to a bear, much less a
polar bear, not known for their tamability.  I also doubt that Henry
Prince of Wales would have been allowed to drive a chariot pulled by
polar bears.  So if Mucedorus and Oberon are both capitalizing on the
fad for white bears and use good quality white bear suits, I suggest
that Winter's Tale, put on at the same time and by the same company, did
too.  Probably even the same bear suit.  Waste not, want not.

Ursinely yours,
Melissa Aaron

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Elizabeth Williamson <
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Date:           Tuesday, 16 Nov 1999 11:29:31 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 10.1998 Winters Tale and the Bear
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1998 Winters Tale and the Bear

Have you already checked out the book by Dennis Bartholomeusz, _the WT
in Performance in England and America, 1611-1976_ (Cambridge, 1982)?

Cheers,
 Elizabeth
 

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