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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: June ::
Re: Isabella's Chastity
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1294  Tuesday, 27 June 2000.

From:           Abigail Quart <
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Date:           Monday, 26 Jun 2000 13:23:12 -0400
Subject: 11.1283 Re: Isabella's Chastity
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1283 Re: Isabella's Chastity

I didn't know that Mamet was/is an idiot. Saying an actor's job is only
to "memorize the lines" is right up there with Andrei Serban's "an actor
can only play one emotion at a time" which I recently heard at the CUNY
Shakespeare Conference. HUMANS can't play one emotion at a time. There's
always more than one thing going on (God, I love you so much--am I
getting a cold sore--are you going grey--did I turn off the gas--is
there anything in the refrigerator that will look sexy while I'm eating
it?) even if it's just our autonomic systems feeding us input which
intrudes into consciousness (Hungry. Air, I need air! Noise. Intruder?
Old Spice. Harry! Oooh, my body likes Harry.)

Isabella's silence can be inexplicable or the director and actors can
build to it from the first moment Isabella sees the Duke. He is leaving,
she is entering. They pass. Immediately after that the Duke alters his
plans (He could not have planned to eavesdrop as he did not know she was
coming. He did not know Claudio had a sister.) From here on, he
improvises.

If Isabella is also affected at the moment she sees the Duke, then
stunned silence at the end of the play is not so inexplicable. (And
during her visit to Claudio, how much more emphatic would her insistence
on chastity be if she is suddenly battling her first real impulse to
temptation?) It takes a while to assimilate that God can hear the secret
wishes of your heart and grant them. Since she was inches away from nun
vows and he was dressed as a friar at the time (doubly forbidden, what?)
and now is the guy in charge of the whole neighborhood, speechless would
be my option too.

Speechlessness is often the result of complex and contradictory emotions
clamoring in the brain. Can you portray that just by memorizing the
lines?
 

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