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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: August ::
Cymbeline at Shakespeare Santa Cruz
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1482  Thursday, 10 August 2000.

From:           Valerie Wayne <
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Date:           Wednesday, 09 Aug 2000 10:17:10 -1000
Subject:        Cymbeline at Shakespeare Santa Cruz

Dear list members,

I heartily recommend the production of Cymbeline at Shakespeare Santa
Cruz, which closes on August 27th.  It's a postmodern, hilarious yet
important production that foregrounds the disjointed elements of this
tragical-comical-historical-pastoral-late play.  Directed by Danny
Scheie with Ros King as dramaturg, the outdoor production puts 6 t.v.
sets atop a music hall stage and runs contemporary screen images in
counterpoint to events below.  Cloten's costume is cluttered with union
jacks, the first scene in Italy is set in a Mafioso pool hall, Belarius
is dressed as a boy scout who lives in a pup tent, and musical cues
signal important events in the plot (the ring, the bracelet) and all 24
plot points in the last scene.  This will sound over the top, and in
some respects it is:  Danny Scheie is known for his experiments, and not
all of them work here.  But there are strong performances by Susanna
Schulman as Imogen--who more than anyone holds this production together,
Hans Altwies as Posthumus, and others. Act 1 Scene 6 where Iachimo tries
to seduce Imogen and then pretends he's only testing her becomes
polished, highly intelligent drama. The production works with rather
than in spite of the conflicting moods of the play, adding to
Shakespeare's self-parody an overlay of the popular that juxtaposes high
and low art, the classical and the familiar.  It appreciates this
anomalous text with its dark, underlying threats and doesn't try to
flatten it out in order to make sense of it. And it is definitely a
crowd-pleaser.

I have seen good productions of Cymbeline by Bill Alexander (1987-88),
Sir Peter Hall (1988), and Adrian Noble (1997-98), as well as videotapes
of the Washington Shakespeare Company's production in 1996 and A Noise
Within's production this past summer. I'm editing the play for the
Arden, third series, and I have some sense of how difficult it is to
stage. I recommend the Shakespeare Santa Cruz production not only for
its audacity and fun, but for how effectively it conveys this play to a
modern and American audience.

Enjoy the show.

Valerie Wayne
University of Hawai'i
 

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