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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: December ::
Re: Julie Taymor's TITUS
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.2379  Friday, 29 December 2000

[1]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 27 Dec 2000 09:02:06 -0800
        Subj:   SHK 11.2374 Re: Julie Taymor's TITUS

[2]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Thursday, 28 Dec 2000 09:03:25 -0800
        Subj:   SHK 11.2374 Re: Julie Taymor's TITUS


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Wednesday, 27 Dec 2000 09:02:06 -0800
Subject: Re: Julie Taymor's TITUS
Comment:        SHK 11.2374 Re: Julie Taymor's TITUS

> Taymor is a designer, not a director.

Her recent credits, and probably her tax return, suggest otherwise.  So
do the many, many people who see more to her work than you do.

I agree with one of the other comments, the one about Jessica Lang, but
most of the criticisms, name calling really, lacked the substance I have
recently pleaded for, so it is difficult to rebut.  Thank you for the
Kaufmann reference.  I shall read it.

Mike Jensen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Thursday, 28 Dec 2000 09:03:25 -0800
Subject: Re: Julie Taymor's TITUS
Comment:        SHK 11.2374 Re: Julie Taymor's TITUS

I've had a second thought about my reply to the accusations of bad
acting in Taymor's Titus.  I have been urging that we raise the level of
discourse, but passed up an opportunity to show how.

I suggested that writing something like

> She either miscasts (Alan Cumming), chooses classically-inexperienced
> players who can barely speak, let alone fill, their roles (Jessica Lange,
> Harry Lennix), or leaves capable performers to their own stale devices
> (Anthony Hopkins with his familiar repertoire of murmurs, shouts and snarls).

was basically name calling.  To say that someone is lousy or miscast
does not give list members anything to address.  We can say, "I thought
the actors were good," but that is as meaningless as the comments quoted
above.

Acting is not like a costume or a set.  Those do not change, so we can
all know what we are discussing.  Acting breaks down into parts like
characterization, speaking the lines with conviction, and how actors
play a scene together.  A performance can change from scene to scene, or
even moment to moment.  It would be helpful when discussing a
performance to say enough so we can all discuss the same thing.  How did
Hopkins "repertoire of murmurs, shouts and snarls" help or hurt a
PARTICULAR scene?  How did that undermine the film at THAT point?  Then
anyone interested on our list can review that scene to see if we agree,
or if we want to make the case for Hopkins effectiveness is that scene.

As it is, I can suggest that Alan Cumming was not miscast since I found
the performance effective, but that is just spitting at each other and
doesn't mean anything.  I can say that Jessica Lang did not find the
rhythm of her lines, but also feel that she was not truly awful because
I thought her characterization was adequate.  Since the comments above
are so general, I'm not certain we are addressing the same things in
Lang's performance.

If my gadfly act is wearing a bit thin on me, I can only imagine how
unendurable it must be to others.  Many, perhaps most list members are
working on the high level I suggest.  I hope others can step up to that
same level.

All the best,
Mike Jensen
 

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