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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: November ::
Re: Far-fetched Stage Directions
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.2107  Thursday, 16 November 2000.

[1]     From:   Tom Bishop <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 15 Nov 2000 14:04:23 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2093 Re: Far-fetched Stage Directions

[2]     From:   John Velz <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 15 Nov 2000 13:05:02 -0600
        Subj:   Hieronimo's Tongue

[3]     From:   Paul E. Doniger <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 15 Nov 2000 19:02:02 -0800
        Subj:   Fw: SHK 11.2093 Re: Far-fetched Stage Directions


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tom Bishop <
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Date:           Wednesday, 15 Nov 2000 14:04:23 -0500
Subject: 11.2093 Re: Far-fetched Stage Directions
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2093 Re: Far-fetched Stage Directions

This passage, from Yarington's "Two Lamentable Tragedies", which Peter
Holbrook brought to my attention years since, still strikes me as the
silliest in Elizabethan drama:

[When the boy goeth into the shoppe Merrie striketh six blowes on his
head & with the seauenth leaues the hammer sticking in his head, the boy
groaning must be heard by a maide who must crye to her maister.]

[Merrie flieth]

        Mai.
        Oh God I thinke theres theeues in Beeches shop.

[Enter one in his shirt and a maide, and comming to Beeches shop findes
the boy murthered.]

        Nei.
        What cruell hand hath done so foule a deede,
        Thus to bemangle a distressed youth:
        Without all pittie or a due remorse,
        See how the hammer sticketh in his head,
        Wherewith this honest youth is done to death,
        Speake honest Thomas, if any speach remaine,
        What cruell hand hath done this villanie:
        He cannot speake, his sences are bereft... [etc]

Hardly surprising really.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Velz <
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Date:           Wednesday, 15 Nov 2000 13:05:02 -0600
Subject:        Hieronimo's Tongue

Not to put too pedantic a gloss on the s.d., but the technical term for
what Hieronimo does is "autoglossotomy".

Cheers,
John

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul E. Doniger <
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Date:           Wednesday, 15 Nov 2000 19:02:02 -0800
Subject: 11.2093 Re: Far-fetched Stage Directions
Comment:        Fw: SHK 11.2093 Re: Far-fetched Stage Directions

I don't know ... it seems to me that, although it certainly is possible,
biting one's own tongue off would be quite a challenging (not to mention
repugnant and excruciatingly painful) task. How sharp are our teeth,
anyway?

By the way, Mike, you're memory is fine. It does seem weird that
Hieronimo would sharpen his pen right after biting his tongue off! He
uses the knife, however, to kill the Duke -- a bit of meaningless
slaughter: Hieronimo over the top! I often wonder how this absurd play
ever managed to be such a smash hit that it engendered an entire class
of tragedies, including one of our best (_Hamlet_, of course).

Uh-oh! I bet I just opened a can of worms ...

Paul

P.S.  The stagecraft of the tongue-biting act, I know, was relatively
easy, although the actor would have to manage, somehow, to get the
sponge (or more likely, piece of liver) into his mouth at the end of his
line without giving away the store to the audience. Deftness and slight
of hand (mouth?) skill would be needed.
 

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