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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: June ::
Re: Isabella's Chastity
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1283  Monday, 26 June 2000.

[1]     From:   Geralyn Horton <
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        Date:   Friday, 23 Jun 2000 13:24:48 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1276 Re: Isabella's Chastity

[2]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Friday, 23 Jun 2000 17:57:43 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1276 Re: Isabella's Chastity

[3]     From:   Dale Lyles <
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        Date:   Saturday, 24 Jun 2000 12:56:46 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1266 Re: Isabella's Chastity


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Geralyn Horton <
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Date:           Friday, 23 Jun 2000 13:24:48 -0400
Subject: 11.1276 Re: Isabella's Chastity
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1276 Re: Isabella's Chastity

> From:           Edmund M. Taft <
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>The first (in Aubrey?), is that Shakespeare told a friend
>that he had to "kill off" Mercutio because the character
>had such a mind of his own that he was out of control

Many playwrights are under the illusion that their characters think, and
even that they have unconscious thoughts which are not available to the
writer at the time of composition.  These writers sometimes respond to a
commentator who points out such a possible motivation by distinguishing
between aspects of the character which are "there" (ahha! yes! I didn't
realize that myself, but of course...) and aspects which are being "read
in" by the commentator (well, I can see how you might think that, but
he's not really that kind of person...)

I know this not only because I am a playwright and have had this
illusion myself, but also because over the past 30 years I have listened
to hundreds of other writers at critiques, and have read accounts of
their composition process by as many others as I can procure through
interlibrary loan or through the Dramatists Guild. Not all playwrights
think of their characters as real people who, once "captured", dictate
their dialogue to the transcriber, and are capable of doing and saying
things that surprise the writer and even upset his carefully worked out
plots.  But it is common, and seems to be much more common than the view
that they are merely artifacts to be manipulated.

Perhaps realistic logical people who know the difference between reality
and make believe aren't attracted to writing for the theatre?

Geralyn Horton, Playwright
Newton, Mass. 02460
<http://www.tiac.net/users/ghorton>

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Friday, 23 Jun 2000 17:57:43 -0400
Subject: 11.1276 Re: Isabella's Chastity
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1276 Re: Isabella's Chastity

Ed Taft elaborates on an observation I made (along with others, such as
Sean) that Isabella shows no sign of being thrilled with the prospect of
marrying the Duke:

> What woman wants to
> marry a man whom she has addressed throughout as "father" and who has
> addressed her as "daughter"?  It's really a kind of incest by proxy,
> isn't it?  And what good "father" wants to marry his "daughter"?  Well,
> this former "good father" does, doesn't he?  It was Sean Lawrence, I
> think, who reminded us that Isabella's wordlessness speaks volumes, and
> I think he is right.  Between the Duke's first proposal and his second
> is a span of 42 lines in which Isabella soundlessly registers her
> bewilderment and, then, her understanding: like Angelo, the Duke has
> been after her all the time!  Like Angelo, he has laid a trap for her,
> but this time, there is no escape!  Like Isabella, the audience has the
> same chance to figure out what has really happened here.  Their beloved
> father/friar has been exposed for what he really is, just as Lucio
> exposed him in the same scene some 200 lines earlier.

> This Duke is a first-class jerk!

>
> Counselor, I rest my case.

I am afraid I find the case overstated.  Isabella's silence is
intriguing, and a director can do almost anything he or she wants with
it.  But I don't think that we can extrapolate that into resistance to
Oedipal fantasies.  Terrance's position looks damned good when this sort
of free-wheeling psychoanalytical musing is the alternative.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dale Lyles <
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Date:           Saturday, 24 Jun 2000 12:56:46 EDT
Subject: 11.1266 Re: Isabella's Chastity
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1266 Re: Isabella's Chastity

Terence Hawkes writes. "In short, Shakespeare makes it SEEM AS IF his
characters think."

Seems?  Nay, we know not seems...

We've jumped through these hoops before, and I know Terence is right
about the characters on the page not actually being--that's the artist's
job, and the illusion of life is one we create in our own minds.

However, that presumes that we're only reading the plays.  What is
happening when we see the plays performed, and more to the point, when
we're the ones performing them?  Especially in the rehearsal process,
that boundary between the artist's words on the page and the "living"
character vanishes, does it not?  Or do we think Mamet is right, that
the actor's only job is to "memorize the lines"?

Dale Lyles
Newnan Community Theatre Company
http://newnantheatre.com
 

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