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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: February ::
Re: Stage Combat
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0361  Monday, 21 February 2000.

[1]     From:   Jack Hettinger <
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        Date:   Friday, 18 Feb 2000 14:38:30 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 11.0327 Re: Stage Combat

[2]     From:   Dana Shilling <
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        Date:   Friday, 18 Feb 2000 17:59:55 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0351 Re: Stage Combat


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jack Hettinger <
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 >
Date:           Friday, 18 Feb 2000 14:38:30 -0500
Subject: 11.0327 Re: Stage Combat
Comment:        RE: SHK 11.0327 Re: Stage Combat

Dana Shilling writes: "I've never understood how Hamlet and Laertes
could pick up the wrong weapons after a double disarm (which is a very
rare event anyway)--as you would imagine, if your sword gets knocked out
of your hand, it still ends up pointing in its original direction
(toward your opponent)."

Dana,

I can give you an interesting study on the exchange of rapiers: James L.
Jackson, "'They Catch One Another's Rapiers': The Exchange of Weapons in
Hamlet," Shakespeare Quarterly 41 (Fall 1990): 281-98. Jackson argues
that there was a particular maneuver which enabled the exchange.

Jack

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dana Shilling <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Friday, 18 Feb 2000 17:59:55 -0500
Subject: 11.0351 Re: Stage Combat
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0351 Re: Stage Combat

A fencer I know who is interested in fencing history (a rough parallel
is to normal fencers, if there is such a thing, as Trekkers are to
normal human beings) says that early modern practice fencing was done
with real weapons (i.e., with a point), with the point thrust into a
kind of leather pincushion about the size of a tangerine. It would be
tough to mistake a bated from an unbated weapon under those
circumstances.  Of course, Hamlet points out to Osric that rapier and
dagger is TWO of Laertes' weapons, and later asks if the foils are all
of a length, and a foil and a rapier are very different pieces of
equipment-not to mention the differences in fighting with weapons in one
or both hands.

When you get right down to it, though, not only is it a bad idea to get
into a fencing match with someone whose entire family you've recently
wiped out, it's an ESPECIALLY bad idea to maintain match protocol after
you discover that your opponent is, so to speak, loading live ammo. One
would be best advised a) to get the hell out of Dodge or b) keep hold of
the unbated sword and "make a ghost of him that lets me." Sportsmanship
is all very well, but I certainly wouldn't hand Laertes any kind of
weapon-anybody who would use a pointed weapon (much less an envenomed
pointed weapon) in a match would break the substitute over his knee and
use the broken edge (or whack Hamlet over the head with the hilt-a
basket-hilted rapier can pack quite a punch.

Dana
 

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