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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: November ::
Unkindest Cut
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.2090  Monday, 29 November 1999.

From:           Jadwiga Krupski <
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Date:           Friday, 26 Nov 1999 10:33:18 -0500
Subject:        Unkindest Cut

I am planning a panel paper for the Spring conference of the Association
for Core texts and Courses (ACTC)  in which I propose to discuss some
directorial omissions in the productions of plays. I shall cite two
specific instances,

The first one concerns two productions of A WINTER's TALE - one by the
Cebtaur Theatre in Montreal, the other in Stratford, Ontario in the same
year (I think it was 1997). In both cases, the dialogue between Perdita
and Polyxenes about nature and nurture (IV,iv) was cut.  This passage
highlights the characterization of Perdita:  she is the lost princess,
nurtured in "base" circumstances, yet her nobility and integrity
epitomize her true "nature" - which is the controlling factor of the
final redemption and reconciliation.  On the other hand, something may
be said for Polyxenes's touch of sophistry, when he argues that the very
fact of human endeavors to improve on pristine nature is also "natural".

My second example comes from Kenneth Branagh's otherwise admirable film,
HENRY V. Toward the end of the film, the King is seen, crossing the
battle-ravaged landscape carrying a dead boy. He has been informed of
the slaughter of the baggage train boys by the retreating French - and
he has responded with great anger. His brief appearance with the dead
boy in his arms would acquired more weight and focus, had a previous
scene been included.  It involves the nameless Boy of the DRAMATIS
PERSONAE, Falstaff's former factotum. His master's death has forced him
to seek the protection of the only friends he knew - and to join
Falstaff's former boon companions, as they enlist in the King's
expedition against France. But as he watches this band of thieves and
looters an action, he makes a decision: as he tells us,  "I must leave
them and seek/ some other service. Their villainy/ goes against my weak
stomach/ and I must cast it up! (H.V, II,ii,47-53)".  He finds his
"other service" in the baggage train. Having this episode precede  the
King's reaction to the slaughter of children, would have made a strong
statement of considerable thematic weight.

I wonder if any list members have had similar experiences with this kind
of "most unkindest cut of all" - and would like to share them.

Greetings,
Jadwiga Krupski
 

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