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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: January ::
Re: Orlando
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0018  Wednesday, 3 January 2001

[1]     From:   L. Swilley <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 2 Jan 2001 19:58:30 -0600
        Subj:   I vote that Orlando and Rosalind should both be aware

[2]     From:   Ann Carrigan <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 2 Jan 2001 22:34:40 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0014 Is Orlando as dumb as he seems?

[3]     From:   Annalisa Castaldo <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 3 Jan 2001 08:55:11 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 12.0014 Is Orlando as dumb as he seems?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           L. Swilley <
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Date:           Tuesday, 2 Jan 2001 19:58:30 -0600
Subject:        I vote that Orlando and Rosalind should both be aware

John Marwick writes,

" And has anyone seen it played where Orlando knows that Ganymede is
really Rosalind... This idea came from reading Harold Bloom who says "it
would be an aesthetic loss if Orlando were not fully aware of the charm
of his situation."I have so far not come across a commentary that
mentions that idea - though it certainly seems to add another whole
level of comedy, subtlety and attractiveness to the story.  And how much
does Rosalind perhaps have an inkling that she has been found out - do
they both carry on pretending that they think the other one doesn't know
they know?"

A delightful idea!  ("O do it, England..."). Unless the argument of the
rest of the play denies the possibility of such a reading, please,
please, please make it happen.

I saw the play done too many years ago to admit to (Ronald Pickup was a
principal and about 18 years old at the time).  The production had an
all-male cast (as must the original have had), the effect of which was
to send the audience's minds into a delightful tailspin watching a man
playing a woman playing a man being practiced on by a man who supposedly
thought - or did he, as you will have it? - that this man was a woman
(but played by a man). (It is difficult to believe that Shakespeare did
not capitalize on this necessity of an all-male cast to delight and
baffle his audiences.)

May we hope that you will be using an all-male cast for a further
mystifying effect?

L. Swilley

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ann Carrigan <
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Date:           Tuesday, 2 Jan 2001 22:34:40 EST
Subject: 12.0014 Is Orlando as dumb as he seems?
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0014 Is Orlando as dumb as he seems?

From: John Marwick <
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> This idea came from reading Harold Bloom who says "When Ganymede plays
>  Rosalind in order to rehearse Orlando in life and love, are we to assume
>  that her lover does not recognise her?" (Shakespeare: The invention of
>  the human, Fourth Estate, London, 1999.  p 221) He goes on to say that
>  "Aside from straining credulity it would be an aesthetic loss if Orlando
>  were not fully aware of the charm of his situation."

I found much of Bloom's book to be very enjoyable and sometimes his
opinions were in line with mine or enriched mine. However, there are
some points (such is this one you cite) where I wonder where he's coming
from.  There are so many instances in the plays -- mainly the comedies
and romances -- that don't really approach real-life plausibility.  Our
disbelief needs to remain suspended, and we must acknowledge both the
magic of love and the magic of theater. Disguises, throughout centuries
of drama, are supposed to *work.* I just finished reading Beaumont and
Fletcher's "Philaster," which requires that a father not recognize his
own daughter, even in close conference with the girl (who's been
disguised as a male page.)  In fact, there's no textual hint, not even
an aside, that declares her to be a woman until the final scene.

I do think of Orlando as being somewhat slight as a character, compared
to other sighing lovers such as Romeo, Troilus or Orsino. I guess that
sort of implies there's less internal conflict in him than in the
others.  Maybe if his brother hadn't been made so two-dimensional
there'd be more seen of Orlando's depths. But Bloom makes his adoration
of Rosalind pretty clear, which made his entire take on AYLI somewhat
too biased for my taste.

Just my opinion, of course. The funny thing is that so many people rave
about Rosalind but I've never seen a really great performance of that
character.  I'll have two chances this year so maybe I'll change my tune
by midsummer.

-- Ann Carrigan

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Annalisa Castaldo <
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Date:           Wednesday, 3 Jan 2001 08:55:11 -0500
Subject: 12.0014 Is Orlando as dumb as he seems?
Comment:        RE: SHK 12.0014 Is Orlando as dumb as he seems?

The tradition in Renaissance drama is that the most pitiful of disguises
always works perfectly, so I believe that the original intention was
probably that the deception worked. However, we are far from the
original intention or the original audience and it could be an
interesting and subtle approach to have both characters slyly courting
through the masks of deception.

Annalisa Castaldo
Temple University
 

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