2000

Re: Eunuchs Onstage

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1107  Monday, 29 May 2000.

From:           Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 27 May 2000 16:02:25 +0100
Subject: 11.1104 Re: Eunuchs Onstage
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1104 Re: Eunuchs Onstage

David Kathman continues our debate of the Malfi cast list:

GIE> So, the bracket does belong beside "The Doctor" and "Cariola".

DJK> It's also possible that it belongs beside only one of these.  If it
was
DJK> mistakenly extended to the Officers, might it not have also been
DJK> extended by mistake to one of the other roles?

A bracket yokes 2 or more things. We must suppose that there shouldn't
have been a bracket at all, or else we look for the 2+ items to be
joined.

GIE> These parts can be doubled or perhaps he played
GIE> one in the original performance and one in the
GIE> revival. The first suggestion, doubling, struck Bentley
GIE> as a bit odd ("surely the King's company could have
GIE> spared hired men better fitted for the Doctor's part
GIE> than the boy who played Cariola" JCS 2:519) and
GIE> the latter is quite a step down for an actor if the
GIE> move is Cariola (original run) -> Doctor (revival),
GIE> but a plausible step up if Doctor -> Cariola.

DJK> It's also possible that he played only one of the roles,
DJK> presumably in the revival.  We have no guarantee
DJK> that *all* of the roles are properly given for both
DJK> productions.  Perhaps the person compiling the
DJK> list knew that Pallant had played one (or both) of
DJK> these roles in the more recent revival, but did not
DJK> know who played it/them in the original production,
DJK> so he put down only Pallant's name.

I can't accept the "one role" hypothesis because of the bracket. He was
too young to play the Doctor in the original production (on that we are
agreed) so the only remaining possibilities are that he went from
Cariola (1st run) to Doctor (revival), which is an unlikely progression,
or he doubled the parts in the revival, which is also odd. I'm happy to
give up the Malfi cast list as inconclusive.

GIE> G E Bentley (the source of this burial information) wrote
GIE> that "it seems likely" the burial of "Robert Pallant a man
GIE> in the church" on 4 September 1619 was the player.

DJK> Hmmm.  Where does he say this?  Is it in his 1928 TLS
DJK> article?  In *The Jacobean and Caroline Stage* (v.2, p.519)
DJK> Bentley writes that Robert Pallant "was buried in this parish
DJK> [St. Saviour Southwark] in 1619," without any equivocation.

Yes, in the 1928 TLS article. (I can send it as a TIFF file to anyone
who wants it.)

DJK> If the Nicholas Burt born in 1621 is the actor, this would fit
DJK> in pretty well with what Wright says and with the ages of
DJK> the Shatterells.

So it's not him in the Barnavelt ms.

DJK>There was a Nicholas Underhill who was a royal musician
DJK> in 1603, and since this *may* have been the same as the
DJK> actor who first appears for sure in 1624, I included that
DJK> date in his dates of flourishing.  But given the time span,
DJK> it seems hazardous to make the identification with
DJK> any degree of certainty.  You're right that *if* Nicholas
DJK> Underhill the actor is the same man referred to in 1602
DJK> and/or 1603, he obviously wasn't a boy in 1619.

So he's no good to your side either. Since my side has a 'Nick'
available in the King's men your side needs an alternative candidate, I
think.

DJK> I'm not saying that we can definitely say that Nicholas
DJK> Tooley didn't play a woman in 1619, just that I see no
DJK> reason to think that he was this "Nick", especially
DJK> given all the other positive evidence that women's
DJK> roles were played by teenage boys.

Fair enough, although you're evaluating part of the evidence (Barnavelt)
in the light of tentative conclusions reached from the other evidence.

DJK> I also hope that any differences of opinion which remain
DJK> will be amicable ones.

Of course. (The 'hobby-horse' slur touches us not.)

Gabriel Egan

Re: Senile Dementia

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1106  Monday, 29 May 2000.

[1]     From:   Carol Barton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 27 May 2000 09:28:35 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1097 Re: Senile Dementia

[2]     From:   L. Swilley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 27 May 2000 11:36:09 -0500
        Subj:   Remember: Polonius Is the First Minister of State

[3]     From:   Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 27 May 2000 14:16:21 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1097 Re: Senile Dementia

[4]     From:   Graham Bradshaw <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Sunday, 28 May 2000 04:59:13 +0900
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1097 Re: Senile Dementia

[5]     From:   Lois Potter <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 27 May 2000 20:53:10 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1097 Re: Senile Dementia

[6]     From:   David Shenk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 27 May 2000 23:15:40 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1097 Re: Senile Dementia


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carol Barton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 27 May 2000 09:28:35 -0400
Subject: 11.1097 Re: Senile Dementia
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1097 Re: Senile Dementia

As I said some time in January, I think, the Folger production played
Polonius "straight," as a uniformed officer whose son was also military,
a butt-kissing bureaucrat, but certainly not senile or in any other way
not in full possession of his faculties. They underscored his windbag
officiousness by having Laertes and Ophelia finish his lines for him,
eyes rolling, voices sing-song, in that infuriating "YES, Daddy!" manner
that teenagers sometimes adopt: (He) -- "Neither a borrower nor a lender
be -- (They) --"[YES, Daddy!] 'for borrowing dulls the edge of
husbandry,'" and so on. It was very funny. (And it illustrates that who
Polonius is dictated by who is playing him, and how, just as the Lear
Fool takes on different dimensions when played as an old man himself, as
he was by the RSC.)

What we see in Lear is, I think, not entirely senile dementia either,
but the reaction of an octogenarian spoiled brat to the world not going
according to his plan. Lear is used to "commanding" the microcosm of his
kingdom to do his bidding, as king and supreme dictator, all the world
and everyone in it his loyal subjects and servants, he second in power
only to God. Suddenly, after the division of his crown, he is stripped
of all power and influence, even that of a father (his kids don't listen
to him either, not even Cordelia, who is quite obviously "Daddy's little
girl").  The entire basis of his wonted epistemology is yanked out from
under him, and, like Oz discovered, he is left with nothing but the puny
manhood with which he was born, stripped politically, socially, and
psychologically as bare as Poor Tom at that point -- and just as mad.

I think I might be a little imbalanced, in his shoes, too.

Best to all,
Carol Barton

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           L. Swilley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 27 May 2000 11:36:09 -0500
Subject:        Remember: Polonius Is the First Minister of State

Hardy Cook wrote,

I agree heartily with Peter Groves's statement: "Why Shakespeare did it
must, of course, remain an open question, but what it means in the
theatre is a matter of performance-choice."

The question is not does Polonius suffer from dementia, but how was
Polonius portrayed by X in Y's production of *Hamlet* (for theatrical
productions, add at the performance I saw.)

Characteristics found in the text are transformed in performance;
Polonius exists as a character on the page and on the stage.


and let us not forget that as a First Minister of State, Polonius need
not be bothered to  remember details; he has secretaries for that.  I
see a Polonius snapping his fingers at underlings, demanding, "What did
I say?" And he'd better get an answer, or heads will roll.

Olivier's and others' interpretation of Polonius as a doddering old fool
seriously  and wrongly questions the competence of Claudius to be King
and a man  in charge - the which he of course he very much is.  Part of
the tragedy is that Claudius would have made an excellent king, had he
come properly to the throne.  One cannot imagine such a man keeping
Olivier's Polonius around in a position of authority, certainly not a
man who would be talked into the arras event by such a Polonius.

Yet, in spite of the many interpretations I have seen that have
attempted to show Polonius to be crafty, none has ever convinced me that
Claudius could be persuaded to such parlor games, nor that a man of
Polonius' experience would suggest them.  (- But wait! On the other
hand, are they both quite drunk at the time? That might help.  I
remember Patrick Stewart's Enobarbus dying on stage of  a "heart
problem" - in Stewart's interpretation, he died of acute alcoholism.  It
made sense of an otherwise incredible event.)

L. Swilley

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 27 May 2000 14:16:21 -0400
Subject: 11.1097 Re: Senile Dementia
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1097 Re: Senile Dementia

My post about the clinical features of Alzheimer's dementia was
intended, as most members figured out, to be mildly sarcastic.  I was
trying to make much the same point that was made by respondents who
pointed out, in one way or another, the slipperiness of clinical
diagnoses of literary characters.

On the other hand, I do not agree wholeheartedly with Peter Groves and
Hardy, who emphasize "performance-choice."  I suppose one could choose
to play Polonius as a virile young man (or even a virile young woman)
but that would wrench the text past the breaking point.  It seems to be
that WS intended -- sorry Terrence--  to show us an old politician who
has lost much of his skill to the ravages of time.  Of course, this is
not a clinical case study of Alzheimer's, but WS probably knew people
who developed signs of memory loss, aphasia, etc., in advanced years,
and it was not too difficult for him to show us a character who
exhibited those symptoms, just as other characters may be said to be
proud, ambitious, dim-witted, etc.

I believe that Polonius is to be understood as having formerly been a
brilliant and successful statesman, and perhaps a warrior.  (See my
observations on the significance of his name.)  He still shows a rote
ability to replicate and explain somewhat sophisticated political
techniques, as in the scene with Reynaldo, but his insight and judgment
are gone.   Perhaps WS was making a comment on the dismal human
condition, akin to Alexander's dust stopping a bung hole or a king
progressing through the guts of a beggar.

By the way, I think Terrence Hawkes makes an interesting point.  The
first two or three times I heard Camillo say "I know not what to say" I
really thought the actor should just have said "line" sotto voce.  I
never had the same reaction to Polonius' digression in II.i.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Graham Bradshaw <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 28 May 2000 04:59:13 +0900
Subject: 11.1097 Re: Senile Dementia
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1097 Re: Senile Dementia

My God, I'm getting frightened! For some months now, I've been agreeing
with Terence Hawkes's letters to SHAKSPER, including this latest. Is
this an early stage of senile dementia?

Graham Bradshaw

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Lois Potter <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 27 May 2000 20:53:10 -0400
Subject: 11.1097 Re: Senile Dementia
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1097 Re: Senile Dementia

I agree with Terry Hawkes' point:  Polonius's apparent lapse of memory
can make the audience think that the actor really has forgotten his
lines.  This happened once in my experience; a number of people around
me were audibly upset when they thought that a much-loved older actor
(Michael Bryant, at the National Theatre in 1989) was cracking up before
their eyes.  On the other hand, it doesn't usually happen: Polonius
plays the moment with enough control, and often enough comedy, to make
it clear that we are watching something happen inside rather than
outside the play -- especially since actors don't normally tell other
characters that they've dried. Reynaldo's reaction is perhaps even more
crucial; however embarrassed or superior he may look, most people can
tell that he is reacting as Reynaldo, not as a junior actor wondering
how he can salvage the situation.

But it might have been different for the audience that saw Shakespeare's
actors, who probably needed the prompter more frequently.  And maybe, if
an older actor was playing Polonius, he was already well known for
memory lapses.  And maybe the implicit and explicit references to actors
forgetting lines, which are pretty common in Shakespeare and elsewhere,
are either a propiation of the gods of memory or a way of defusing
everyone's anxiety on a subject which, by all accounts, is an obsession
with both actors and audience.

Lois Potter
University of Delaware

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Shenk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 27 May 2000 23:15:40 -0500
Subject: 11.1097 Re: Senile Dementia
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1097 Re: Senile Dementia

I agree almost entirely with Melissa Aaron. Any specific notion of
"disease" is specific to that culture. I have no interest in arguing
definitively whether Lear, or for that matter Annesley, had "Alzheimer's
disease." I'm simply interested in the long and winding cultural history
of dementia.

That said, it's pretty clear that what we now call Alzheimer's disease
has existed for many thousands of years. I have no illusions that
Shakespeare ever focused solely on the issue of senile dementia, but
given his importance, whatever he did say is pretty important to any
comprehensive history of the disease.

Re: Eunuchs Onstage

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1104  Saturday, 27 May 2000.

From:           David Kathman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 26 May 2000 22:36:37 -0600
Subject: 11.1089 Re: Eunuchs Onstage
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1089 Re: Eunuchs Onstage

Thanks to Gabriel Egan for his thoughtfully skeptical comments on my
discussion of boy actors, specifically on Robert Pallant and Nicholas
Tooley.  While I suspect we will continue to disagree about some
matters, I believe we can reach some common ground.

Gabriel Egan wrote:

>[Long posting on biographical minutiae follows]
>
>David Kathman's posting on the evidence against adults playing women's
>parts is wonderfully detailed and deserves minute attention.

Thanks.  I really am going to write it all up once I get some other
things out of the way, and I already have a likely venue for publication
lined up.  Your comments below will make it a better paper, because
they've forced me to think more closely about certain issues and
formulate my arguments better.

>The issues
>were whether "R. Pallant" down for Cariola in the cast list of The
>Duchess of Malfi was the man of at least 30 years, and whether the Nick
>down for Barnavelt's wife in Sir John van Olden Barnavelt was Nicholas
>Tooley who was nearing 40. Kathman writes:
>
>>1) The quarto of The Duchess of Malfi was published in 1623, and it
>>contains the first cast list known for a printed play in English.  The
>>company is the King's Men.  Some of the roles have two actors listed,
>>indicating the original production and a revival.  The original
>>production must have been between 1612 (when some of Webster's sources
>>were published) and December 1614 (when William Ostler, listed as
>>playing Antonio in the first production, died).  The revival must have
>>been after March 1619 (when Richard Burbage, the first production's
>>Ferdinand, died, and John Taylor, the second production's Ferdinand,
>>joined the company) but before 1623, the date of the quarto's
>>publication.
>>
>>2) "R. Pallant" is listed in the cast list alongside a bracket
>>encompassing the roles of The Doctor, Cariola, and Court Officers.
>>Pallant obviously could not have played multiple court officers at once,
>>and he could not have played any of the court officers and Cariola,
>>since they appear in the same scene together.  Modern editors have
>>changed the brackets so that they encompass only The Doctor and Cariola,
>>but given the sloppiness involved, we can't be sure that Pallant played
>>both of these roles, or if he did, that he played both of them at once.
>
>Yes, it's very hard to see why one actor would be down for "Court
>Officers" (plural): they appear together and are indistinguishable,
>which eliminates the explanation that he doubled them and the
>explanation that he played different ones in the original performances
>and revival performances. So, the bracket does belong beside "The
>Doctor" and "Cariola".

It's also possible that it belongs beside only one of these.  If it was
mistakenly extended to the Officers, might it not have also been
extended by mistake to one of the other roles?

>These parts can be doubled or perhaps he played
>one in the original performance and one in the revival. The first
>suggestion, doubling, struck Bentley as a bit odd ("surely the King's
>company could have spared hired men better fitted for the Doctor's part
>than the boy who played Cariola" JCS 2:519) and the latter is quite a
>step down for an actor if the move is Cariola (original run) -> Doctor
>(revival), but a plausible step up if Doctor -> Cariola.

It's also possible that he played only one of the roles, presumably in
the revival.  We have no guarantee that *all* of the roles are properly
given for both productions.  Perhaps the person compiling the list knew
that Pallant had played one (or both) of these roles in the more recent
revival, but did not know who played it/them in the original production,
so he put down only Pallant's name.

>>3) There was an actor named Robert Pallant who was a member of Strange's
>>Men in the early 1590s, Worcester's Men in 1602, Queen Anne's Men from
>>1603 to 1613, Lady Elizabeth's in 1614, Prince Charles' in 1616, and
>>Queen Anne's again in 1619 (when he marched in her funeral procession in
>>May).  He is not known to have ever been associated with the King's
>>Men.  This man was a longtime resident of St. Saviour Southwark, where
>>he had a son Robert (baptized 28 September 1605) and several other
>>children, and where he was buried on 4 September 1619.
>
>G E Bentley (the source of this burial information) wrote that "it seems
>likely" the burial of "Robert Pallant a man in the church" on 4
>September 1619 was the player.

Hmmm.  Where does he say this?  Is it in his 1928 TLS article?  In *The
Jacobean and Caroline Stage* (v.2, p.519) Bentley writes that Robert
Pallant "was buried in this parish [St. Saviour Southwark] in 1619,"
without any equivocation.

>I suppose he meant it might just be the
>nearly-14-year old son Robert whose younger brothers' burials were
>recorded in 1611 and 1614.

I think the specification "a man" makes it unlikely that the 14-year-old
was the one being buried.  Robert Pallant the actor lived in St.
Saviour's Southwark for many years; his last appearance in an acting
context was on 13 May 1619, when he was granted black cloth with other
Queen Anne's Men to wear in her funeral procession; "Robert Pallant a
man" was buried in St. Saviour's Southwark on 4 September 1619.  After
that we do have the *Duchess of Malfi* cast list (1623), which is what's
under discussion, and the 1624 King's Men record, which seems quite out
of place for an actor of such experience and distinction as the elder
Pallant.

>Even if it was the father who died, Pallant
>Senior could have appeared in the original performances of Malfi and in
>a revival between 13 March 1619, Burbage's death, and 4 September 1619,
>his own burial.

I suppose it's possible, but my main concern is with plausibility, and
this doesn't seem all that plausible.  Even if one believes that the
elder Pallant is referred to in the Duchess of Malfi cast list, it's not
entirely clear what roles he played, as I noted above.

>>4) On 27 December 1624, "Roberte Pallant" was eleventh in a list of 21
>>men "all imployed by the Kinges Maiesties servantes in theire quality of
>>Playinge as Musitions and other necessary attendantes".  This obviously
>>could not be the actor who had died five years earler, but I think we
>>may confidently take it to be his son, who would have been 19 years old
>>at the time.
>
>Yes, definitely not the elder Pallant if he's the one who died in 1619.
>But Bentley wasn't certain about that. I didn't find in your database,
>David, anything to clinch the matter. Is there something else? (Mark
>Eccles, N&Q 237 p299 seems to have turned Bentley's "likely" into a
>certainty, but he doesn't cite anything to show why.)

Eccles was more certain in many of his identifications than Bentley was,
and sometimes he was more certain than I am.  (I've recently come across
a case where one of Eccles' tentative identifications turns out to have
been almost certainly wrong, though to his credit he used the phrase
"may have been".)  But Bentley, as I read him, was reasonably certain of
the identification by the time he wrote volume 2 of *The Jacobean and
Caroline Stage* in 1941.  I agree with that assessment, though more
definitive evidence could make the case even stronger.  Your skepticism
on this point is duly noted.

>>5) Given the documented connection with the King's Men, I think we may
>>also be fairly confident in taking the "R. Pallant" of the Duchess of
>>Malfi cast list to be the younger Pallant.  He would have been 7 to 9
>>years old during the first production, and 14 to 18 years old during the
>>revival.  He would have been rather young during the first production,
>
>So, leaving aside the doubling possibility, either:
>
>i) he was a 7-9 year old actor playing a Doctor and then a 14-18 actor
>playing Cariola ("PESCARA Doctor, he did not feare you throughly /
>DOCTOR True, I was somewhat to forward")
>
>ii) or the he was a 7-9 year old Cariola and then a 14-18 Doctor. This
>is more plausible I suppose.

Or, as I suggested above, perhaps the younger Pallant played only in the
revival.  Or perhaps he played only Cariola in both productions, and the
extension of the bracket to the Doctor in the quarto is a mistake.  Both
of these seem to be quite reasonable possibilities.

>>but I think it's not unreasonable to believe that for some of the minor
>>parts where only one name is listed, this name refers only to the more
>>recent revival, perhaps because the compiler wasn't sure who had
>>originally played the minor roles a decade before. An age of 14 to 18
>>would have been right in line with the other evidence we have for the
>>actors who played female roles (see below).
>
>I'm not sure how you mean this to bear on the original/revival problem.
>You think Pallant Junior played only in the revival, in which he doubled
>Cariola and Doctor?

No, not necessarily.  I think it's *possible* that he played only in the
revival, but if that was the case there is a further set of
possibilities: he may have doubled Cariola and the Doctor, or he may
have only played one or the other.

>The young Pallant in Malfi is a possibility but his age (too young)
>argues against it for me, just as his father's (too old) does for you.

I agree that the young Pallant would have been too young to play the
Doctor in the original 1613 production, but that's only one of many
possible scenarios I've outlined.  I think that the overall evidence
makes it quite likely that the younger Pallant is the one referred to in
the quarto cast list, and if that was the case there are several
eminently reasonable scenarios as to which part(s) he played.

>>>and the manuscript of Sir John van Olden Barnavelt names
>>>Nicholas Tooley, who was probably nearing 40, for Barnavelt's wife.
>>
>>Actually, the manuscript refers only to "Nick", and this is much more
>>likely to be either Nicholas Burt or Nicholas Underhill, both of whom
>>acted for the King's Men in the 1620s and 1630s.
>
>Nicholas Burt was playing Hal in 1H4 after the Restoration and Othello
>in 1669, which as Kathman's database suggests (date of birth given as
>1621), makes him too late for Barnavelt's wife in 1619. Actually David,
>I can't see where you got 1621 from: it's not in Nungezer, JCS, or
>Oliver 1972, the three items in your database for Burt.

Actually, that date should probably have a question mark after it,
though I think it's probably right.  I got it from the Mormon
genealogical database at www.familysearch.com, which shows a Nicholas
Burt being baptized in 1621.  Late in the 17th century, James Wright's
*Historia Histrionica* said that Burt had been a boy under John Shank at
the Blackfriars (which must have been before early 1636, when Shank
died), and that he had then been a boy under Beeston at the Cockpit
(along with Mohun and Shatterell), where he would play the principal
women's roles.  This must have been around 1637 or so.  I found the
baptism of Robert Shatterell, the famous Restoration actor, on 10
November 1616 in St. Botolph Aldgate, and that of his brother Edward,
who was also an actor after the Restoration, on 3 November 1620 at St.
Andrew Holborn.  Wright does not say which Shatterell was a boy under
Beeston with Burt, but Edward seems more likely given the dates.  (You
can accuse me of circular reasoning if you want, but I'm going by all
the evidence taken together.) If the Nicholas Burt born in 1621 is the
actor, this would fit in pretty well with what Wright says and with the
ages of the Shatterells.

>Nicholas Underhill is more promising but again Kathman's database has
>him flourishing 1603-34  which (even given an early start to his career
>at, say, 8) puts him around 25 in 1619. If he's the same as "vnderell"
>given, in his own right, wages by Henslowe on 11 Oct 1602 he'd have been
>maybe 10 years older still (assuming that children were remunerated via
>their masters).

Actually, those dates are pretty misleading, and I should change that.
There was a Nicholas Underhill who was a royal musician in 1603, and
since this *may* have been the same as the actor who first appears for
sure in 1624, I included that date in his dates of flourishing.  But
given the time span, it seems hazardous to make the identification with
any degree of certainty.  You're right that *if* Nicholas Underhill the
actor is the same man referred to in 1602 and/or 1603, he obviously
wasn't a boy in 1619.

>>it could also have been some other "Nick".  There is no reason to
>>believe that it was Nicholas Tooley, who was 37 years old at the time.
>
>A reason is that Tooley was a King's man neither too young nor too old,
>unless one assumes that adults couldn't play women. He's a better
>candidate than Burt (yet unborn) and equally good as Underhill (also a
>fully grown man).

All right, but the possibility of some completely different "Nick" is a
very real one, one might even say a probable one.  I'm not saying that
we can definitely say that Nicholas Tooley didn't play a woman in 1619,
just that I see no reason to think that he was this "Nick", especially
given all the other positive evidence that women's roles were played by
teenage boys.

>I don't mean to suggest that men certainly played women, and I shall be
>correcting the publication containing the assertion used in my original
>posting to reflect the uncertainty. To those who don't know it I
>recommend David Kathman's "Bibliographical Index to the Elizabethan
>Theater" as a remarkable resource to which I repeatedly find myself
>indebted.
>
>David wrote "I've been meaning to write all this up for publication" and
>I for one look forward immensely to reading it when he does.

Thanks very much, both for your kind comments immediately above, and for
your thoughtful skepticism.  I hope I've explained my position more
clearly, and I also hope that any differences of opinion which remain
will be amicable ones.

Dave Kathman
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Re: Isabella's Chastity

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1105  Monday, 29 May 2000.

[1]     From:   Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 27 May 2000 13:29:26 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1100 Re: Isabella's Chastity

[2]     From:   Robin Hamilton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 27 May 2000 09:50:47 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1100 Re: Isabella's Chastity

[3]     From:   Robin Hamilton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 27 May 2000 09:51:00 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1100 Re: Isabella's Chastity

[4]     From:   Robin Hamilton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 27 May 2000 10:20:03 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1090 Re: Isabella's Chastity

[5]     From:   Florence Amit <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Sunday, 28 May 2000 12:52:02 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1100 Re: Isabella's Chastity

[6]     From:   Sean Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Sun, 28 May 2000 10:03:37 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1100 Re: Isabella's Chastity


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 27 May 2000 13:29:26 +0100
Subject: 11.1100 Re: Isabella's Chastity
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1100 Re: Isabella's Chastity

Carol Barton wrote

>I (pointedly) referred you to the dictionary, not so that
>you could confirm my exposition, but so that you could
>look up the term "comptroller," which people who
>don't spend their time ferreting out the subversive
>subtexts of cute little blue trains and funny looking
>purple Teletubbies know refers to finance -- and
>not locomotion.

"Comptroller" is a mis-spelling of "controller". You received the
benefit of the doubt.

Gabriel Egan

[Editor's Note: I think it is about time to take this aspect of the
discussion off-line.  -Hardy]

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robin Hamilton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 27 May 2000 09:50:47 +0100
Subject: 11.1100 Re: Isabella's Chastity
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1100 Re: Isabella's Chastity

Sean Larence writes:

>Producing an inhuman, even fascist, social organization is all too easy,
>as Angelo shows.  Similarly, the Duke shows that random acts of kindness
>and punishment are also easy to implement, though they make his power
>all the more arbitrary and his rule closer to totalitarian.  The
>question (I think) is one of how to include generosity in the economy of
>social organization without betraying both.

Indeed, and agreed.  Which is why I find pertinent both the space given
to Escalus (the third justice figure in the play) and to the contrast
between Isabella's two appeals for mercy (on which, see below).  I'd
very much echo Sean's final sentence.

Jack Heller writes:

>I am not ready to enter into the discussion of Isabella's chastity, not
>having read the play lately. However, I want to suggest that the
>topicality of Measure for Measure might be related might be found by
>looking to similar "disguised ruler" plays, The Phoenix and The
>Malcontent among them.

And especially Ben Jonson's figure of the disguised Justice Overdo in
+Bartholomew Fair+, which may be a parody of Vincentio.  But rather than
the figure of the disguised justice, +Measure for Measure+ seems to me,
in Shakespeare's own works, to link with other figures who *abdicate*
power -- Lear and Prospero, for instance.

David Bishop writes:

>Maybe the personal interest that comes from being a man leads me to see
>the Duke in a more favorable light than Robin.

The ambiguity of my name may have misled David here -- I share my sex
(if not my clan) with the notorious Scottish reiver Robin Roy McGregor
Campbell, a.k.a. Rob Roy McGregor.

>His condemning Lucio for
>slandering a Duke, for example, seems ok to me, especially since
>Shakespeare makes a point of the outrageousness of the slander. Dukes do
>have to make such judgments sometimes. Here the Duke seems justified.
>Besides, he doesn't even punish Lucio for this as he might.

There are two issues here, I think.  One is how far the slander is as
heinous as the Duke pretends.  It isn't perhaps that outrageous, as the
Duke enters scene three of the play protesting to his father confessor
that he isn't off for a dirty weekend in Brighton, so Lucio can't be
seen as the only figure in the play to harbour doubts over the Duke's
morals.

But I was thinking more, at this point, of how the Duke is judge and
jury (and indeed witness!) in his own case.  The closest parallel I can
think of is Hal at the beginning of +Henry V+, and there, the facts are
presented to Henry V by others, and the traitors when confronted by
their actions immediately (unlike Lucio) confess their guilt.  "I'll be
judge, I'll be jury, / Said cunning old Fury."

>I'm not sure exactly what is unreasoned in Isabella's plea to Angelo, in
>contrast to what is reasoned in her plea to the Duke. But it does seem
>clear that at the end she is correct in treating Angelo as both
>penitent--he says he's so penitent he wants to die--and not guilty of
>murder.

Her first plea is for unrestrained mercy regardless of the nature and
circumstances of the crime.  Her later plea to the Duke for mercy on
Angelo takes account of circumstance, and doesn't challenge the law
itself -- "His act did not o'ertake his bad intent" (etc.).  In this,
the later Isabella stands with Escalus and against Angelo and the Duke.

>Isabella as "helpless, female" in contrast with her male judges makes me
>wonder. Exactly in what way is she more helpless than a male in the same
>position?

I wasn't thinking of anything particularly general, so much as the image
of Isabella (in dramatic terms, assertively female) confronting Angelo,
and later the Duke ...

>It seems to me that Angelo and Lucio, being guilty, are at the
>end more helpless.

... but it could be argued (though I'm not sure that I'd want to) that
Angelo, particularly, is indulging in the (usually male) topos of The
Repentant Traitor [cf. +Henry V+ (above) and elsewhere].

>Seeing the Duke's proposal as something like rape seems to me to overdo
>it.>

I was (metaphorically) suggesting that Vincentio commits an act of rape
on the laws of Venice rather than the body of Isabella -- but the point
isn't, perhaps, irrelevant.  The Duke, after all, proposes to two
figures.  His proposition to Barnardine that he allow himself to be
hanged is turned down unequivocally.  This may be a directive as two how
his (two -- sic!) proposals of marriage to Isabella at the end of the
play are treated.  Interestingly, from the moment when the Duke divests
himself of his guise of Friar, Isabella is quite silent.

>The end could be seen as too neat, and the proposal may seem
>disturbing, and dramatically unsatisfying. But I at least think that
>Shakespeare didn't intend to make the Duke, at the end, seem at all
>villainous.

I'd partly agree, though the ending seems to me quite consonant with a
dramatic presentation of the Duke as an inept blunderer.

Robin Hamilton

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robin Hamilton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 27 May 2000 09:51:00 +0100
Subject: 11.1100 Re: Isabella's Chastity
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1100 Re: Isabella's Chastity

From:           Graham Bradshaw <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

>The assumption, here and in various other contributions, is that Angelo
>condemns Claudio to death "for fornication". <SNIP> Claudio is NOT
>sentenced to death "for fornication", although we keep being told that he
>is, and that assumption may by now be impossible to shake  <SNIP> As we are
>twice told, early on in
>the play, Claudio is sentenced to death "for getting a maid with child."
>That is a very different matter, and one which "all European legal codes"
>take seriously.

The law of Venice is, at the least, blurred in the play.  On the side of
fornication, I.ii ...

LUCIO: What, is't murder?
CLADIO:                           No.
LUCIO:                                    Lechery?
CLAUDIO:                                               Call it so.

II,1 Escalus to Angelo ...

"your own affections,/ Had time coher'd with place, or place with
wishing,/ ... you had not sometime in your life / Err'd in this
point..." -- an act of (mere) fornication would seem to fit better than
an act of conception, to these words of Esacalus'.

Later in II,i, where Pompey says:

"If you head and hang all that offend that way but for ten year
together, you'll be glad to give out a commission for more heads."
Again, lechery rather than procreation would seem to be in question.

I'll leave it to Graham to make the opposite case (for which, I'd agree,
there is a case to be made).  Graham is certainly right to draw
attention to the element of conception in the play, and that it's a
little glib to present, without argument, the undefined law as applying
to fornication.

>In legal terms, Angelo does not commit the same crime as Claudio when he
>fornicates. In moral terms, abandoning Mariana when she could not
>deliver the promised dowry is horribly callous, but not a legal crime in
>Elizabethan law (although it would have been if Angelo had slept with
>Mariana--hemce the Duke's machinations).

My understanding is that in sleeping with Mariana, Angelo isn't
committing a crime (in terms of either Elizabethan or 'Venetian' law) at
all, but consumating a marriage and rendering it legally valid.  What he
THINKS he has done -- slept with Isabella and executed Claudio) is
another matter ...

>These two case involve DOWRIES.

I do think Graham's quite right to emphasise this point.

>In legal terms, Lucio does commit the same crime as Claudio when he
>fathers an illegitimate child by Kate Keepdown. In moral terms, Lucio's
>is far worse: he doesn't love Kate, and refuses to support the child,
>and even contrives to set the law against the woman who has looked after
>his infant bastard (one of this play's rare gleams of human kindness,
>which comes from the "lower depths"). These two cases involve
>ILLEGITIMATE CHILDREN.

In legal terms, perhaps, but (especially in Jacobean times) moral?  I
suspect this turns on just how one sees Kate Keepdown.  Her name
suggests that she is one of Mistress Overdone's employees (and Lucio,
if, admittedly, no one else, defines her as an whore).  This being so,
where is the evidence that it is Lucio rather than anyone else (Froth?)
who is the father of her child?

>Shakespeare challenges his audience to think about how these three cases
>overlap, and differ. He also invents a Duke who can't even begin to see
>how the three cases bear on each other, and who declares that Lucio
>deserves what he gets, not for violating the "strict statutes", but for
>"slandering a prince".

This, I entirely agree with.

Robin Hamilton

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robin Hamilton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 27 May 2000 10:20:03 +0100
Subject: 11.1090 Re: Isabella's Chastity
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1090 Re: Isabella's Chastity

> From:           Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

> Forgive my teasing jest of ignorance. Actually, OED offers:
>
> D.C. (Music) = da capo (q.v.);
> D.C., d.c., direct current;
> D.C., District Commissioner;
>
> and nothing for the city. For my part, I forgive as unintentional the
> gravely offensive label of "cosmopolitan Brit" (OED Brit n. 3).

Having looked up the OED1, I cannot find any reference to (OED Brit n.
3) -- is Dr. Egan thinking, perhaps of "berk", and its rhyming-slang
etymology?

Robin Hamilton

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Florence Amit <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 28 May 2000 12:52:02 +0000
Subject: 11.1100 Re: Isabella's Chastity
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1100 Re: Isabella's Chastity

David Bishop wonders in beautiful detail how far from every day humanity
one may dare remove the Duke. I have wondered too.  But what ever that
may be, it is clear that the kind of decision put before Isabella is of
the hardest in literature, as the source from Job indicates. Here are
some similar examples: There is Catherine Sloper in Henry James'
"Washington Square", who must promise to dismiss from her unrequited
dreams of marriage, her vanquished lover, Morris Townsend:

"He has grown fat and bald, and he has not made his fortune. But I can't
trust those facts alone to steel your heart against him, and that's why
I ask you to promise."

"Fat and bald;" these words presented a strange image to Catherine's
mind, out of which the memory of the most beautiful young man in the
world had never faded. "I don't think you understand," she said. "I very
seldom think of Mr. Townsend."

"It will be very easy for you to go on, then. Promise me, after my
death, to do the same."

Again, for some moments, Catherine was silent; her father's request
deeply amazed her; it opened an old wound and made it ache afresh. "I
don't think I can promise that," she answered.

"It would be a great satisfaction," said her father.

"You don't understand. I can't promise that."

The Doctor was silent a minute. "I ask you for a particular reason. I am
altering my will."

This reason failed to strike Catherine; and indeed she scarcely
understood it. All her feelings were merged in the sense that he was
trying to treat her as he had treated her years before. She had suffered
from it then; and now all her experience, all her acquired tranquility
and rigidity, protested.  She had been so humble in her youth that she
could now afford to have a little pride, and there was something in this
request, and in her father's thinking himself so free to make it, that
seemed an injury to her dignity.  Poor Catherine's dignity was not
aggressive; it never sat in state; but if you pushed far enough you
could find it. Her father had pushed very far.

"I can't promise," she simply repeated.

"You are very obstinate," said the Doctor.

"I don't think you understand."

"Please explain, then."

"I can't explain," said Catherine. "And I can't promise"

Another example is found in Jane Austen's "Northanger Abbey". Catherine
Morland  refuses her brother's desire for her participation in an outing
and succeeds all alone to neutralizes the manipulation of his friend
Thorpe. "She had not been withstanding them on selfish principles alone,
she had not consulted merely her own gratification; ... no, she had
attended to what was due to others, and to her own character in their
opinion"

Or closer by far, Cordelia. Why does she not oblige her father with a
few nice words?  Why does not Juliet acquiesce to her father's wishes
and marry the County Paris? Or Desdemona - why so arbitrarily to wed
Othello? What can a passive person do when confronting tyranny? How is
it that so many women in literature, although, more cruelly, whole
communities in life, will refuse to be compromised or be a party to what
for them is a falsehood?  Why are there martyrs in the name of
integrity? Is it not because the collective responds harshly to a
manifestation that it does not want to understand?  God's martyrs one
must call them for they are so utterly alone, as this forum clearly
illustrates. Isabella stands alone in her integrity except for her God.
Yes, except for Anyone's God who in a similar situation becomes the only
succor. So perhaps here there is a germ of an answer for David Bishop's
quandary. The Duke is divine to the degree that the individual is
isolated.  And the contrary is also true: the critics of such an
individual are base according to their willingness to allow she or he to
be compromised. It is not Isabella that should be weakened, women at
least should know, but Angelo.

Florence Amit

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sun, 28 May 2000 10:03:37 -0700
Subject: 11.1100 Re: Isabella's Chastity
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1100 Re: Isabella's Chastity

I'd like to respond to Graham Bradshaw's note by broadly agreeing with
it:

> Claudio is NOT sentenced to death "for fornication", although we keep
> being told that he is, and that assumption may by now be impossible to
> shake (like the assumption that Hamlet's Mousetrap MUST be a success, or
> that Othello and Desdemona MUST have consummated their marriage on the
> first night in Cyprus.) Fornication is a necessary but not a sufficient
> condition for the crime in question. As we are twice told, early on in
> the play, Claudio is sentenced to death "for getting a maid with child."
> That is a very different matter, and one which "all European legal
> codes" take seriously.

I'd like to add that, from my dim memories of reading about the
proceedings of ordinary (i.e., not ordinary, but canonical) courts, the
overriding concern of the magistrates was to ensure child support.
Being forced to marry (as Lucio is) is therefore a reasonable
punishment, since one has to care for one's spouse and child.  Paying
support of some sort or other is another possible response.  Death seems
like an extraordinary punishment, but early modern justice, unable to
actually capture even a representative sampling of criminals, made up
for the shortcoming by publicly destroying those that they did.  I don't
think it would be pushing this logic too far to say that the law alluded
to in the play is a sort of extreme deterrence against stubbornly
deadbeat dads.

What's interesting is not only how critics have misread the law (and I
think that Graham's corrective is absolutely to the point here), but
also how the characters within the play misread the law.  "Let him marry
her" is an adequate response to Claudio's crime, for everyone but
Angelo, who sees the difficulty in Puritanical terms, as one of out of
control sexuality.  In fact, he's not alone in seeing the law as gelding
and splaying the whole of Vienna's youth.  Irresponsible sex has become
inseparable from sex per se in the public discourse of Vienna, and the
world becomes divided between those, like Lucio, who want irresponsible
sex, and those who want no sex at all, with further complications as
Angelo becomes corrupt and the Duke tries to marry.  By the end, of
course, Lucio, who the law was really aimed at in the first place, is
forced to marry Kate Keepdown, but as a more or less arbitrary
punishment for insubordination, not in order to ensure that he supports
their child.

The law is transformed, in its applications, from an effort at providing
child support and forcing responsibility for one's actions, to an
instrument of arbitrary state power, and passes through Puritanism on
the way.  Not only do different legal assumptions apply to the different
cases, but the laws themselves change in the course of application.

Cheers,
Se


Re: Secondary School Play Choice

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1103  Saturday, 27 May 2000.

From:           Judy Lewis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 27 May 2000 16:31:34 +1200
Subject: 11.1081 Re: Secondary School Play Choice
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1081 Re: Secondary School Play Choice

If you must choose between these two, then make it Much Ado.  Sure, it
is flawed, BUT it is easy to act whereas in these PC days, Othello
provides problems; the Branagh film is always a great hit with kids, and
third, too much of what is studied in school veers on the tragic side -
Death of  Salesman, war poetry etc.  A touch of comedy would be a nice
change.  Because so much is in prose, it is more accessible to many
students.

And Beatrice is one of the best heroines ever written - confident,
articulate, intelligent.  Benedick is one of the most attractive of
Shakespeare's heroes - more so than Orsino or Orlando, for example.

I teach - and have directed a school production of - Much Ado with great
success.  It is a great play.

Judy Lewis

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