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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: March ::
Re: Act and Scene Divisions
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0437  Monday, 6 March 2000.

[1]     From:   William Proctor Williams <
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        Date:   Thursday, 02 Mar 2000 10:04:55 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0436 Act and Scene Divisions

[2]     From:   Martin Mueller <
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        Date:   Thursday, 02 Mar 2000 09:03:17 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0436 Act and Scene Divisions

[3]     From:   Anthony Martin <
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        Date:   Friday, 3 Mar 2000 10:08:43 +0900
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0436 Act and Scene Divisions

[4]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Saturday, 4 Mar 2000 11:42:15 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0436 Act and Scene Divisions


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Proctor Williams <
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Date:           Thursday, 02 Mar 2000 10:04:55 +0000
Subject: 11.0436 Act and Scene Divisions
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0436 Act and Scene Divisions

I can't remember, has anyone said, "T. W. Baldwin" in this discussion?
If not, they should have.

William Proctor Williams

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Mueller <
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Date:           Thursday, 02 Mar 2000 09:03:17 -0600
Subject: 11.0436 Act and Scene Divisions
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0436 Act and Scene Divisions

If you knew anything about act division in early modern Europe, you'd
probably know, even if at second or third hand, that Horace in his Art
of Poetry said that tragedies "should not be produced beyond the fifth
act." So the idea that tragedies have acts and that five is the
privileged number was pretty canonical, at least in theory.

The great authority on this subject was Baldwin, T. W. (1963).
Shakspere's five-act structure : Shakspere's early plays on the
background of renaissance theories of five-act structure from 1470.
Urbana,, University of Illinois Press.

Baldwin isn't always right, but he was deeply informed about this kind
of information and about the ways in which it played in the educational
system that was shared by playwrights and play-goers.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Anthony Martin <
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Date:           Friday, 3 Mar 2000 10:08:43 +0900
Subject: 11.0436 Act and Scene Divisions
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0436 Act and Scene Divisions

There are numerous plays published before 1609 which have a five-act
structure. I believe that Norton and Sackville's Gorboduc, first
published in 1565, was the first play in English in five acts.

Anthony Martin

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[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <
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Date:           Saturday, 4 Mar 2000 11:42:15 -0500
Subject: 11.0436 Act and Scene Divisions
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0436 Act and Scene Divisions

Kyd's Spanish Tragedy, dated c 1584-1589, was in four acts in imitation
of some Seneca.

Clifford Stetner

>Does anyone know of evidence that Shakespeare (or his contemporaries
>prior to 1609: we can argue about the date separately!) actually thought
>in terms of five acts for a play?
 

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