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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: September ::
Re: The Power of Words
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1791  Friday, 22 September 2000.

[1]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Thursday, 21 Sep 2000 09:41:51 -0700
        Subj:   SHK 11.1782 Re: The Power of Words

[2]     From:   Charles Weinstein <
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        Date:   Thursday, 21 Sep 2000 19:17:31 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1782 Re: The Power of Words

[3]     From:   Bob Haas <
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        Date:   Thursday, 21 Sep 2000 20:56:09 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1754 Re: The Power of Words

[4]     From:   Charles Weinstein <
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        Date:   Thursday, 21 Sep 2000 21:15:58 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1782 Re: The Power of Words

[5]     From:   Harry Hill <
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        Date:   Thursday, 21 Sep 2000 22:26:05 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1782 Re: The Power of Words

[6]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Friday, 22 Sep 2000 08:28:26 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1782 Re: The Power of Words


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Thursday, 21 Sep 2000 09:41:51 -0700
Subject: Re: The Power of Words
Comment:        SHK 11.1782 Re: The Power of Words

After sending off my message to our resident attitude problem, and with
some hesitation, I am moved to have a rare disagreement with the
reliably wise Marilyn Bonomi.

One of the things that bowls me over about great actors is the way they
sometimes overcome their physical limits to fill a role.  Three or four
years ago I saw Judi Dench play a part 20 years too young for her.  I
stopped noticing in seconds.  I interviewed Mel Gibson shortly before
the release of his Hamlet film.  Mel is short and rather small boned,
yet he fills a room.  In the film version of Much Ado, Denzil Washington
seems to get smaller when Beatrice rejects his proposal.  He actually
just nods his head, but it is lingering illusion and brilliantly
handled.  How about Adrian Lester or Ronald Pickup as Rosalind?

Yes, we can all site examples of actors who failed to overcome their
bodies in certain roles, but I would not count an actor of Anthony
Sher's gifts out until he has proven he can't do it - yes, even Abraham
Lincoln.

All the best,
Mike Jensen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Charles Weinstein <
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Date:           Thursday, 21 Sep 2000 19:17:31 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 11.1782 Re: The Power of Words
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1782 Re: The Power of Words

To say that an actor's physical and personal qualities render him
less-than-ideal casting for  a part, or that he has failed to transcend
those qualities to the detriment of his performance, strikes me as
absolutely fair comment, regardless of what those qualities may be.
Some members of this discussion group apparently feel that an actor's
sexual orientation should never be made the subject of such comment.  I
disagree, and am not likely to be intimidated into thinking otherwise.

By the way, Sher's Tamburlaine was quite bad.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bob Haas <
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Date:           Thursday, 21 Sep 2000 20:56:09 -0400
Subject: 11.1754 Re: The Power of Words
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1754 Re: The Power of Words

This may not be the best analogy because sometimes, yes, alcoholic
actors cannot perform a sober character . . . whenever their problem
gets in the way of any performance.  I'm doing a lot of research on
Richard Burton right now and for a good part of his career, his alcohol
abuse didn't infringe upon his professional abilities.  Later on,
however, it did catch up to him.

But this is besides the point.  Does anyone have a genetic
predisposition to bigotry?  The genome aspect aside, would we recognize
alcoholism in the same category of affliction as bigotry?  Probably not.

In any case, I don't agree with Mr. Weinstein's remarks save for this
point: good actors use their life experience to inform their
performances.  Differing sexual perspectives are bound to affect
perceptions.  I don't feel, however, that the question of one's
sexuality is so vast as to outweigh all the other elements that compose
one's identity.  In addition, good actors have vital imaginations, such
that what they cannot or have not experienced, they can nonetheless
imagine in their performances.

Bad actors cannot.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Charles Weinstein <
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Date:           Thursday, 21 Sep 2000 21:15:58 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 11.1782 Re: The Power of Words
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1782 Re: The Power of Words

"Can we agree that some actors are miscast in some roles, and it has
nothing to do with sexual preference?"

Certainly.  An actor can be miscast for any number of reasons.  But to
suggest that sexuality can never be one of them is, as you would say,
silly.  Best regards to Will, Dick, Tim and Mike.

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Harry Hill <
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Date:           Thursday, 21 Sep 2000 22:26:05 EDT
Subject: 11.1782 Re: The Power of Words
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1782 Re: The Power of Words

As an actor who is gay as opposed to a gay actor, I was tempted to
dismiss this discussion as juvenile at best, liberal at worst, and
generally pretty daft.

I -- and other actors who prefer boys to girls when it comes to venereal
pleasure -- am quite capable of making women in the audience swoon if
that is the mood they're in, and certainly of rumbling in my basso
profundo with rather more virility than their husbands and lovers if
laughter, bravos and catcalls from the house are to be believed.

Anthony Sher has a limited technique, perhaps.

    Harry Hill
    Montreal

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <
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Date:           Friday, 22 Sep 2000 08:28:26 -0500
Subject: 11.1782 Re: The Power of Words
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1782 Re: The Power of Words

All this about Anthony Sher's sexual orientation and acting ability
reminds one that if there's doo-doo on the sidewalk, the wise move is to
avoid stepping in it. With Sher or with any actor, private sexual
preferences have nothing whatever to do with their ability to play
certain parts. If an actor normally has certain mannerisms that we
associate with homosexuality, he should be actor enough to suppress them
on stage -- unless he wants the character to be associated with
homosexuality. In that case he would keep them, or, if the actor were
not gay, adopt them

For example, a non-gay actor would certainly want to play Marlowe's
Edward II as gay, since that is one of the defining qualities of the
character, and unless he was very touchy about his reputation, he
wouldn't want to turn down such an excellent part. Similarly,
Restoration fops must be played as very effeminate and mincing,
associated with certain types of homosexuals. But you would not have to
be gay to do so. The essence of acting is putting aside yourself and
finding some one else -- young, old, strong, weak, male, female,
straight, gay, courageous, cowardly, good, evil. If Weinstein is
criticizing Sher for doing a bad job of creating a Macbeth, all well and
good: he's entitled to his opinion and the reasons for it.

But generalizing from one major actor's failure (if that's what it is)
to a blanket pronouncement about sexual orientation -- well, that's the
doo-doo on the sidewalk.

don bloom
 

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