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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: August ::
Shakespeare in Performance
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1446  Thursday 19 August 1999.

From:           Todd M Lidh <
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Date:           Wednesday, 18 Aug 1999 13:22:34 -0500
Subject:        Shakespeare in Performance

Perhaps this note results from my having just recently read through a
stack of  Elizabethan/Jacobean/Carolinian theatre history books, but I
couldn't help but be taken aback by a line from a recent review of
'Hamlet'.

#######################

>From the 7 August 1999 Knoxville (TN) News-Sentinel:

'Hamlet' is solid, but short on excitement
by Doug Mason, News-Sentinel theatre critic

The best compliment I can give the East Tennessee Shakespeare in the
Park production of "Hamlet," a difficult play frequently done badly, is
that its 3.5-hour running time didn't seem nearly that long-even when
viewed outdoors from the unpadded hard-plastic seats of the Tennessee
Amphitheatre.

* * * *

Given the distracting nature of outdoor theatre, Creter [director] would
have been wise to cut more of Shakespeare's poetry and play up the
action.

#######################

Is it just me, but isn't in incongruous that a theatre critic should
remark on the "distracting nature of outdoor theatre" in reference to a
play that was written for an outdoor theatre? Granted, most
theatre-goers of our time have grown soft (hence the reference to
'hard-plastic seats') -- and one need only hearken back to Stephen
Orgel's discussion of the new Globe's first season at the Toronto MLA in
1997 for a similar opinion on comfort-but that a theatre critic would
say that the fact that this play was performed outdoors distracted from
the production just set my nerves on edge.

Am I right, or is it time to move slowly away from the books, careful
not to frighten them, and drink a nice, warm cup of tea?

Todd M Lidh
Dept of English
UNC-Chapel Hill
 

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