The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1473 Wednesday, 9 August 2000.
Date: Tuesday, 8 Aug 2000 22:28:51 +0100
Subject: Re: Performing 'The Tempest'
Comment: SHK 11.1461 Re: Performing 'The Tempest'
I fear that 'The Globe' is just beginning to get a reputation in UK for
productions that one suspects are sometimes a bit willfully quirky, to
the extent that some 'serious' actors and directors simply will not work
there, and the audiences are beginning to go as novelty rather than for
scholarship-made-real, or even, dare I say it, theatrical enjoyment in
its broadest sense. Mark Rylance is coming on increasingly as a rather
defensive evangelist in the press. Occasionally, the show works - his
own Cleo was stunning - not entirely to my taste as the Antony was such
a jerk - - but an absolute tour de force of cross-gender acting. But
the recent 'Tempest' - a notoriously dense and unfortunately hobby-horse
prone show - was seen by many in UK as a fairly serious disaster. The
very recent 'Two Noble Kinsmen' seems to have been greeted with real
enthusiasm - BUT it seems to have been done pretty 'straight' as it has
as yet no real place in the performed canon.
I fully recognise that some of the terms I have used are in their own
way loaded ones, but it worries me that I am becoming chary of taking
students who, like mine, live a good way from London and any other major
theatre centre, to The Globe now because I simply cannot tell in advance
whether there is going to be a reading of the play that is sufficiently
transparent and coherent for them to be able to assimilate the
theatrical AND poetic / textual intent of the work. Of theatrical
excitement there is never a dearth at The Globe, but is that in itself
sufficient justification when that may indeed be their only major
experience of that text in action? I realise that grabbing the
unlettered is part of Rylance's remit, and I applaud it, but
financially, can I as teacher justify serious outlay to see what may
turn into a pretty bizarre experience?
I am genuinely torn over this. I love The Globe kind of shows, but I
know the text far better than my students will, and I can thus revel in
the new insights, but what responsibility do I have as teacher to
introduce students to the more routine so that the brilliant new can
excite? YET, as I write, I recall my own delirium when stuck up in the
sweltering gods on unforgettable summer night watching the fantastic
early run of Brook's amazing 'squash court' MND at the old Aldwych home
of the RSC. Did I know the play well before I went? No!! Can you see my