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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: September ::
Re: Use of Dialect
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1810  Tuesday, 26 September 2000.

[1]     From:   Ed Taft <
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        Date:   Monday, 25 Sep 2000 12:13:19 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Use of Dialect

[2]     From:   JK Campbell <
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        Date:   Monday, 25 Sep 2000 18:02:27 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1801 Re: Use of Dialect


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Taft <
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Date:           Monday, 25 Sep 2000 12:13:19 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Use of Dialect

As both Robin Hamilton and Bill Godshalk point out, in Part 2, Hotspur
is said to speak "thick" (2.3.24). But what that means is in some
dispute. It COULD mean that he stutters, which is how Olivier played him
in a 1947 revival of Parts 1 and 2 in New York.  Years ago I read
reviews of his performance, and critics thought that Olivier's stage
stutter perfectly caught Hotspur's sense that there was never enough
time to say everything he wanted to say.

On the other hand, Bill Godshalk may be right that "speaking thick"
denotes a northern accent. If so, then Glendower shows great restraint
in not pointing out that, as a Welshman, he has a more standard English
accent than his young antagonist.

For those who are interested, in Part 2, Olivier chose to play the role
of Shallow (!).  According to the reviewers, the country scenes,
especially those involving Shallow, Silence, and Falstaff, were the most
memorable in the play, with the exception, of course, of Falstaff's
rejection.

--Ed Taft

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           JK Campbell <
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Date:           Monday, 25 Sep 2000 18:02:27 -0700
Subject: 11.1801 Re: Use of Dialect
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1801 Re: Use of Dialect

>  Nicolas Pullin wrote
>
> I agree with Bill Godshalk that Hotspur, and therefore his whole
> Northumbrian family, could speak with a North country accent.

When I researched the role I went to Alnwick Castle to sit in Hotspur's
seat and visited the sites of the Battle of Burwick Castle where Hotspur
fought at age twelve, the Battle of Otterburn and Redesdale where
Hotspur's impulsive night attack caused his defeat and capture. It was
from the field of Homildon that Hotspur's was summoned to the court of
Henry IV and of course the Battle of Shrewsbury where he died.

Hotspur's discomfort with courtier in the first speech and his tirade at
the King when he is denied ransom for Mortimer suggests a simple warrior
who only understands honor and nobility not statesmanship and politics.
I used the Jordie accent because it seemed to me Hotspur had spent his
whole life in the field so no time to learn the language of the court,
also because I felt Shakespeare sentence structure "I did deny no
prisoners" rather then "I denied no prisoners" lent itself toward that
up-country sound.  His reference to his poor speech and his inability to
flatter were traits I noticed in the locals during my time in
Northumberland at the markets and in the pubs.

Once I had mastered the accent outside the text it seemed to make me
feel more like the character so I brought it to rehearsal and it
worked.  If it feels right do it!

J. Kenneth Campbell
Actor
 

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