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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: May ::
Re: Nightgowns
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1040  Monday, 15 May 2000.

[1]     From:   Alan Dessen <
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        Date:   Friday, 12 May 2000 15:18:46 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1026 Re: Nightgowns

[2]     From:   Meg Powers Livingston <
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        Date:   Saturday, 13 May 2000 10:59:36 -0700
        Subj:   Re: Ghosts and Nightgowns


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Alan Dessen <
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Date:           Friday, 12 May 2000 15:18:46 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 11.1026 Re: Nightgowns
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1026 Re: Nightgowns

For the nightgown as used in the stage directions of the period, below
is the entry (minus italics) from Alan C. Dessen and Leslie Thomson, *A
Dictionary of Stage Directions in English Drama, 1580-1640* (Cambridge
U.P., 1999).

nightgown:  widely used (roughly forty examples) to signal 1) the time
as night or early morning, 2) the place as a bedroom or other domestic
space, 3) more generally unreadiness, a troubled conscience, or
sleeplessness; a sense of place is made explicit in an entrance "in her
nightgown as to bed-ward" (White Devil, 2.2.23); examples of
unreadiness/troubled sleep include the sleepless Henry IV in his
nightgown (2 Henry IV, E3v, 3.1.0), "in his nightgown all unready" (2
Iron Age, 381; see also Platonic Lovers, 86); nightgowns are regularly
combined with other items of costume such as a shirt (Alphonsus of
Germany, B1r, F2r, G1r; Humorous Day's Mirth, 1.1.0; Insatiate Countess,
3.1.121; Parson's Wedding, 500), slippers (2 Iron Age, 385; Captain,
296; Parson's Wedding, 500), night attire (Woman Killed, 139; Two Maids
of More-Clacke, E3v), "in their nightgowns and kerchers on their heads"
(John a Kent, 582); for some of the many figures who enter in nightgowns
see John a Kent, 604; James IV, 1941; Julius Caesar, 984, 2.2.0; Q1
Hamlet, G2v, 3.4.101; Quarto Othello, B3r, 1.1.159; Woman Killed, 138;
Sophonisba, 1.2.35, 4.1.42; Devil's Charter, C1r; Mad World, 2.4.14;
Golden Age, 70; English Traveller, 70; Great Duke of Florence, 2.2.43;
Martyred Soldier, 199; Jews' Tragedy, 1360; Twins, F2v; Bloody Banquet,
1141 2; Brennoralt, 5.2.0; Country Girl, K1v; Just Italian, 264;
atypical is "drags in Sophonisba in her nightgown petticoat"
(Sophonisba, 3.1.0).

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Meg Powers Livingston <
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Date:           Saturday, 13 May 2000 10:59:36 -0700
Subject:        Re: Ghosts and Nightgowns

John Velz wrote:

>As for sleeping in the nude, Roman Polanski seemed to believe that,
>as he brought out his centerfold Lady Macbeth for the sleepwalking
>scene in the altogether in the Hugh-Hefner-produced film. Whereupon
>the irreverent Kenneth Tynan observed, "the Scottish Doctor may not
>be able to minister to a mind diseased, but in that icey castle, he
>could at least have sent the waiting woman for a cloak." My favorite
>comment on *The Playboy Macbeth*.

As most of my students point out when they write on this production,
Polanski actually dropped a line of text in order to present a nude Lady
Macbeth.  Early in 5.1, the waiting Gentlewoman reports to the Doctor,

"Since his majesty went into the field, I have seen
her rise from her bed, throw her night-gown upon
her, unlock her closet, take forth paper, fold it,
write upon't, read it, afterwards seal it, and again
return to bed; yet all this while in a most fast sleep."  (from the
MIT/Moby Shakespeare)

Polanski has the Gentlewoman omit the reference to the night-gown, and
so his Lady M stays nude throughout the scene.

Makes one wonder how much influence Hef had on the production.

Cheers,
Meg Powers Livingston
 

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