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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: June ::
Re: Nahum Tate's LEAR
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1034  Friday, 18 June 1999.

[1]     From:   David Carnegie <
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        Date:   Friday, 18 Jun 1999 10:41:34 +1200
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1018 Nahum Tate's L

[2]     From:   Tom Dale Keever <
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        Date:   Thursday, 17 Jun 1999 23:35:11 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: Nahum Tate's LEAR


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Carnegie <
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Date:           Friday, 18 Jun 1999 10:41:34 +1200
Subject: 10.1018 Nahum Tate's Lear
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1018 Nahum Tate's Lear

A very good amateur production of Tate's adaptation of King Lear was
given in the East End of London (Whitechapel, I think) in the mid 1960s
at a cultural club run, I believe, by Profumo (he of the Affair).  It
was a well-known and respected drama group.  The play was taken
seriously, and largely succeeded as neo-classical drama (Shakespearean
cognoscenti in the audience only laughed outright in the last five
minutes).

I think there was also a few minutes of it televised in a South Bank
show a few years back about King Lear, when Jonathon Miller did a sort
of teaching rehearsal of the final moments.

Associate Professor David Carnegie
School of English, Film & Theatre
Victoria University of Wellington

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tom Dale Keever <
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Date:           Thursday, 17 Jun 1999 23:35:11 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Re: Nahum Tate's LEAR

Tim Perfect asks:

>I have an idea about what members of this list will say, but I would
>like to hear your thoughts on this adaptation.  Is it worth doing?  Is
>it worth exploring the possibility of doing?  IS there anything valid
>about this interpretation, other than the fact that it is an adaptation
>of Shakespeare's 'Lear' into a Restoration Comedy

Tate's is one of the most stage-worthy of the many Restoration and 18th
C Shakespeare adaptations and I encourage you to give it a try.  The
Riverside Shakespeare Company here in New York put it on with mixed
success over a decade ago, but I have not heard of any stagings since.

Tate's fiddling with the plot sounds outrageous, but he is truer to the
historical sources than Shakespeare was.  The ancient British Lear of
the chronicles did regain his kingdom and ruled along with his loyal
daughter for some years after his restoration.  There is some poetic
justice in Tate's returning the tale to the form of romance in which
Shakespeare found it and from which he transformed it to tragedy.  The
very term "poetic justice" was a Restoration invention and it is just
that quality that the age demanded of the theater and that Tate
obligingly supplied.  This urge for "propriety" lives on in the
misguided belief, in evidence on the floor of the US Congress today,
that media violence is harmless as long as the "good guys" win in the
end.

The Shakespeare adaptations of Tate's time deserve more attention than
the occasional dismissive citations they generally get in theater
histories.  Many are hopelessly dated, but a few, like Tate's, are
instructive examples of their era's stage practices and can hold their
own in production.    I've been trying for years to get someone
interested in staging Colly Cibber's 1700 version of Richard III.   (You
can check out my e-text transcription of the Cibber text at my website:
www.columbia.edu/~tdk3)

As for your project, I say go for it and best of luck with the effort.
Let us all know how it turns out.
 

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