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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: September ::
Re: The Power of Words
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1821  Wednesday, 27 September 2000.

[1]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 26 Sep 2000 10:23:28 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1799 Re: The Power of Words

[2]     From:   Paul E. Doniger <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 26 Sep 2000 18:41:44 -0700
        Subj:   Fw: SHK 11.1817 Re: The Power of Words


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <
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Date:           Tuesday, 26 Sep 2000 10:23:28 -0500
Subject: 11.1799 Re: The Power of Words
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1799 Re: The Power of Words

Paul Doniger writes

>I agree with everything you say with one exception. It is a mistake to
>portray a fop as "effeminate and mincing." The fop is certainly fussy
>and meticulous, but that is quite a different thing. Fops are not
>homosexuals; in fact, they are often promiscuously heterosexual. Most
>restoration comedy is handled poorly by modern actors (and has been for
>decades) -- even British actors. This is perhaps the most difficult kind
>of theatre to pull off (wasn't there a recent production of _Beaux'
>Stratagem_ that was blasted by the press?). Leslie Howard did a credible
>job on film of creating a foppish Scarlet Pimpernel; there was nothing
>effeminate or mincing about it.  In fact it was quite (dare I use this
>word) masculine. Of course, the actor who tackles this role may have
>whatever sexual preference he wants. The character, however, should not
>(as you rightly say) be "gay."

I have not reviewed Restoration comedy for some time but the impression
remains of the major fops being sexually ambiguous (Sir Fopling Flutter
especially, but others, like Witwoud, suggestively so). I don't think of
them as being simply elaborately dressed (or whatever) but effeminate
and mincing, as I said. Those like the Howard "Pimpernel" you might call
foppish or dandified, but not true fops unless they went several degrees
further.

To get back to point of this list, Osric belongs to this class and thus
generates the contempt and amusement of Hamlet and Horatio. Again I
don't know that it's necessarily the implied homosexuality that causes
the contempt but the mincing behavior.

Don

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul E. Doniger <
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Date:           Tuesday, 26 Sep 2000 18:41:44 -0700
Subject: 11.1817 Re: The Power of Words
Comment:        Fw: SHK 11.1817 Re: The Power of Words

I have to apologize for mis-stating Patrick Stewart as an example of a
gay actor being successful in a straight role. I have been given wrong
information on that question. If Mr. Stewart is listening, I hope he is
not offended and that he forgives my error.

I disagree regarding the comments on Derek Jacobi. His reading of
Claudius, though not completely successful, was quite intelligent and
certainly masculine. Unfortunately, the role is nearly impossible to do
well (a rarely recognized fact -- very few actors have succeeded
completely), and the overlong Branagh film was haphazardly directed (a
little of this ... a little of that ... won't this look nice here ...
which star would like to play this role? ... I feel like using the First
Folio here and the Second Quarto there ... etc.)!

Paul E. Doniger
The Gilbert School
 

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