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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: April ::
Re: Feathers
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0818  Tuesday, 10 April 2001

[1]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Monday, 9 Apr 2001 16:12:39 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0777 Re: Feathers

[2]     From:   Ann Carrigan <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Apr 2001 00:17:08 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0777 Re: Feathers


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <
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Date:           Monday, 9 Apr 2001 16:12:39 -0400
Subject: 12.0777 Re: Feathers
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0777 Re: Feathers

Had I seen the play, I undoubtedly would have thought that I was meant
to think of the great warring houses of York and Lancaster as great
birds of prey warring on some higher plane of reality, but this
interpretation would depend on which color feathers fell at what moments
in the action.

Clifford Stetner
CUNY
http://phoenix.liu.edu/~cstetner/cds.html

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ann Carrigan <
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Date:           Tuesday, 10 Apr 2001 00:17:08 EDT
Subject: 12.0777 Re: Feathers
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0777 Re: Feathers

David Evett <
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 > wrote:

Not to poop the party, but I saw the RSC first tetralogy in Ann Arbor,
and don't think those feathers had anything to do with uses of feathers
in other early modern texts.  The made part of the production's
(singular, the four plays clearly conceived as one great unit) striking
3-dimensionality (e.g.  Jack Cade egging on his mob from a trapeze 10
feet above the stage), and in their brilliance and chromatic intensity
and purity their slow drift to the floor (which may explain why feathers
rather than something else) was both beautiful and disturbing.

I'm with you, David. I didn't take notes at the performances but wrote
up my impressions a full week later. I missed some details. But I
definitely remember red and white feathers cascading down on key deaths
of Yorks and Lancasters. To a certain point I thought they "represented"
(in an indirect way) both the falling of blood and the falling of
(heaven's) tears.  Yes, that wonderful vertical planning (ropes,
ladders, trapezes, etc.) was certainly effective.

Looking back I can't construct a systematic set of symbolic meanings
(which doesn't mean that there wasn't one); they mostly appeared at
moments of death, and might, indeed, have been white for dead Yorkists
and Red for Lancastrians.  Has anybody tried to ask Michael Boyd?

I am pretty sure they were white for York and red for Lancaster. What
I'm not clear on is exactly who got the feather effect and who didn't.
My companions had pretty good memories. I'll ask if they noted it.

I missed Mike Jensen's original post on the subject somehow and just now
went back to read it in the archive. After the first few responses I
kept thinking of the feather as "panache" as in Rostand's Cyrano.

Peace and joy,
Ann Carrigan

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