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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: September ::
Re: The Power of Words
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1834  Thursday, 28 September 2000.

[1]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 27 Sep 2000 11:53:22 -0700
        Subj:   SHK 11.1821 Re: The Power of Words

[2]     From:   Meg Powers Livingston <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 27 Sep 2000 18:48:56 -0400
        Subj:   Re: the power of words

[3]     From:   Paul E. Doniger <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 27 Sep 2000 20:00:22 -0700
        Subj:   Fw: SHK 11.1821 Re: The Power of Words

[4]     From:   Edward Pixley <
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        Date:   Thursday, 28 Sep 2000 09:10:33 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1821 Re: "Fops": @The Power of Words


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Wednesday, 27 Sep 2000 11:53:22 -0700
Subject: Re: The Power of Words
Comment:        SHK 11.1821 Re: The Power of Words

Don Bloom wrote:

> 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.

For some reason I am moved to reminisce about a production by Jonathan
Miller in London maybe 15 or 20 years ago.  Ian McNeice played Osric.
Miller's concept was that Elsinore was a tough and dangerous place.
McNeice played a supernumerary in all court scenes, so it was a bit of a
surprise when he emerged as Osric.  It soon made sense.  Osric was also
dangerous.  He tolerated Hamlet because that is what you do with
princes, but he didn't like his treatment and peered at Hamlet as if
he'd like to slap him at key points of their exchange.

Of course this makes complete hash of his description as a waterfly, the
quality Don mentions.  I don't remember if the line was cut or not.  It
MAY be wrong, but it was effective theatre.  Knowing Miller, I sure he
had an elaborate justification, and I'd be fascinated to hear it if
anyone knows it.

Just because I like connecting dots, this also ties in with the recent
comment about Anton Lesser's not-so-nice-guy Hamlet on the Naxos CDs.
Lesser was Miller's Hamlet, and that is the way Hamlet would have to be
in a court like Miller's.

For those who care, the cast could almost be an extension of Miller's
BBC Shakespeare episodes, with John Shrapnal and other oft used actors
in the cast.  Indeed, it was mounted shortly after Miller stepped down
as producer.

Last, and aren't you relieved, the California Shakespeare Festival had a
dangerous Osric who as also a supernumerary in the first part of the
play.  In fact, he was a secret service agent protecting Claudius in
what the press dubbed the Hippie Hamlet about seven years ago.  If you
want to know more, the production was reviewed in Shakespeare Bulletin,
vol. 12, # 3, Spring 1994.

Your trivia master,
Mike Jensen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Meg Powers Livingston <
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Date:           Wednesday, 27 Sep 2000 18:48:56 -0400
Subject:        Re: the power of words

>>4. Derek Jacobi is, and has become increasingly feminine with age, in a
>>manner reminiscent of Dame Edna or Aunt Pittypat. This makes him
>>unconvincing as Julie Christie's virile seducer, or as a brutal,
>>uxorious warrior who unseams his opponent from the nave to the chops.
>>He was splendid as Alan Turing, however.

I knew before I saw Branagh's Hamlet that Jacobi is openly gay, and I
found his Claudius utterly convincing--I think he plays virile pretty
well.  His performance was the best thing in the production for me.

I also knew Ian McKellan is openly gay when I saw him perform Richard
III during the National tour of that production in 1992.  Richard's
wooing of Anne was so well done (as a combination of oozing pathos,
master manipulation, and steamy sexuality) that I saw women in the
theater fanning themselves.  McKellan was also a damn good Macbeth, as
far as I'm concerned--no doubts on my part that he could "unseam" an
opponent.

As David Lindley argues (convincingly, I think): "To discuss an actor's
sexual orientation is to bring knowledge from outside the theatre to
bear, and to refuse the basic premise that an actor is acting and it's
their acting to which we respond."

Perhaps Mr. Weinstein needs a refresher course in suspension of
disbelief.  I heard that the best Cleopatra in England in 1999 was Mark
Rylance.  And I don't know (or care) if he is gay.

Pax,
Meg

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul E. Doniger <
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Date:           Wednesday, 27 Sep 2000 20:00:22 -0700
Subject: 11.1821 Re: The Power of Words
Comment:        Fw: SHK 11.1821 Re: The Power of Words

Don Bloom writes:

> Osric belongs to this class [i.e., fops] 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.

I am unaware that there is any suggestion or implication in the text of
Hamlet that Osric, though perhaps foppish (dandified? or simply a
pompous clown?), is homosexual. I have seen him played this way (I
played him straight in the early 1970s), but the choice was
extra-textual. Is there some reference that you know of that I'm
missing?

Paul

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edward Pixley <
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Date:           Thursday, 28 Sep 2000 09:10:33 -0400
Subject: 11.1821 Re: "Fops": @The Power of Words
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1821 Re: "Fops": @The Power of Words

As I was reading what Paul and Don wrote in the ensuing passages, I
recalled an introduction that Gamini Salgado wrote for The Man of Mode
over 30 years ago, which I thought addressed this question admirably.
With Hardy's permission, I will quote from that introduction:

"Sir Fopling Flutter. . .is only a slightly distorted mirror image of
the hero, Dorimant, and Sparkish and Tattle have almost the same
relation to the heroes of the two other plays [Country Wife and Love for
Love].  The fop is laughed at not because he is trying to be something
in itself contemptible, but rather because he is trying unsuccessfully
to be something which, if he succeeded, would make him the play's hero.
. . .

"Thus, while the older comedy of 'humours' set out to correct human
vices by laughing them to scorn, the new comedy proposed to itself the
more modest aim of showing manners both exemplified and travestied."

I realize this doesn't resolve the "gay" issue, but it is certainly more
helpful than the "gay" issue in the performing of the plays.

Ed Pixley

[Editor's Note: Fops are an interesting subject; aren't they?]
 

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