2001

Re: Midsummer Night's Dream

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1189  Wednesday, 23 May 2001

[1]     From:   Al Cacicedo <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 22 May 2001 14:11:07 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1176 Midsummer Night's Dream

[2]     From:   Susan St. John <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 22 May 2001 19:51:19 -0700
        Subj:   SHK 12.1176 Midsummer Night's Dream

[3]     From:   Don Bloom <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 23 May 2001 08:52:16 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1176 Midsummer Night's Dream


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Al Cacicedo <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 22 May 2001 14:11:07 -0400
Subject: 12.1176 Midsummer Night's Dream
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1176 Midsummer Night's Dream

> Watching a production of MND at my local theatre I once again realized
> what a cruel and depressing piece this "comedy" is. The same guy who
> presented us in Romeo and Juliet two lovers who are absolutely sure of
> their love for each other he shows us in MND that every object of love
> is exchangable. The lovers are treated like guinea pigs in a cold
> professor's lab. How can Hermia and Lysander and Helena and Demetrius
> ever be happy and trusting again after all the things that happened in
> the forest?
>
> Robert Peters
> This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Maybe there's a difference in Romeo and Juliet, but I find it hard to
justify saying so.  After all, Romeo exchanges one lady for another at
first sight, and when Laurence asks why, he says that it's because
Juliet loves him back whereas Rosaline does not.  The same sort of male
changeableness occurs in MND.  The constancy, in both plays, is, to
begin with, in the women.  Eventually the men may become constant in
their affection, but both plays come to an end before one can put that
to the test.

One more thing:  my sense is that comedy is almost always, maybe
inevitably cruel.

Al Cacicedo

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Susan St. John <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 22 May 2001 19:51:19 -0700
Subject: Midsummer Night's Dream
Comment:        SHK 12.1176 Midsummer Night's Dream

Robert Peters asked "How can Hermia and Lysander and Helena and
Demetrius ever be happy and trusting again after all the things that
happened in the forest?"

Having recently produced MND in my high school I grappled with this
issue with my students.  We concluded that Hermia and Lysander's love is
real and the fairy spells overcame it just for the night, but after it
was truly restored they had only their *true* love and happiness to look
forward to.  As for Helena...I personally have a very difficult time
with her acceptance of Demetrius' love for her, after she so adamantly
declared him to be making fun of her...and of course, his love is not
true, but still fairy-enhanced...my students however, romantics that
they are, agreed that Demetrius really had loved Helena all along but
was temporarily swayed by Egeus' money and support.  So when he wakes
from the "dream" he awakens completely and truly does love Helena again,
and she can tell that it's now honest and honorable and she responds in
kind.

Now, what really had us puzzled was why Titania accepts Oberon again so
easily after he's totally humiliated her AND stolen the boy she
professed to care so much about...women, sheesh!

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 23 May 2001 08:52:16 -0500
Subject: 12.1176 Midsummer Night's Dream
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1176 Midsummer Night's Dream

 Robert Peters writes,

>Watching a production of MND at my local theatre I once again realized
>what a cruel and depressing piece this "comedy" is. The same guy who
>presented us in Romeo and Juliet two lovers who are absolutely sure of
>their love for each other he shows us in MND that every object of love
>is exchangable. The lovers are treated like guinea pigs in a cold
>professor's lab. How can Hermia and Lysander and Helena and Demetrius
>ever be happy and trusting again after all the things that happened in
>the forest?

I would guess you saw a bad production -- in the sense that the director
never understood the play to begin with and is under the influence of
one of those people who always want to make everything in Shakespeare
ugly, dark, sinister and depressing.

MND is supposed to be funny, and much of it is absolutely hilarious when
done right. The mechanicals should always be funny, of course, whether
they're fussing at each other, or running around the stage shrieking and
bellowing, or presenting their "very tragical mirth" before the Duke.
The love-in-the-woods business is great knock-about farce, and I have
seen several productions (including the one currently running at the
Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery) that had me laughing until
my sides ached. The relationship of Oberon and Puck is very like that of
Antipholus and Dromio (both sets) in "Comedy of Errors." Customs have
changed, and we no longer find beating servants quite so risible a
matter, but if you do it right you can get a lot of physical comedy from
it without putting off the audience with excessive violence. Even the
squabbling of Oberon and Titania can be funny if the actors avoid
pontificating and do the lines more on the order of Ralph and Alice
Cramden.

There are, of course, dark elements to the play, the more so, I suppose,
because of the perfervid imagination of WS. But once again the director
(like the critic) has to make choices: what is most important, what
less, what least. A reading / production of MND as you describe it is to
me "bad" or "wrong" because I think the choice has been made to
emphasize elements of lesser importance at the expense of those of much
greater importance.  Presenting "Dream" as tragedy is exactly equivalent
to presenting "Lear" as farce. It can be done, but why bother?

regards,
don

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Re: Tragic Hero

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1188  Wednesday, 23 May 2001

[1]     From:   Terence Hawkes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 22 May 2001 13:29:19 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 12.1169 Re: Tragic Hero

[2]     From:   Edmund Taft <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 22 May 2001 14:19:04 -0400
        Subj:   Re: Tragic Hero

[3]     From:   Florence Amit <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 22 May 2001 22:09:06 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1169 Re: Tragic Hero


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 22 May 2001 13:29:19 -0400
Subject: Re: Tragic Hero
Comment:        SHK 12.1169 Re: Tragic Hero

The pomposity of some of the attacks on Stephanie Hughes has become
quite breathtaking.  Sean Lawrence's sonorous 'Philosophy generally
trumps history' finally takes the cake. What on earth can it possibly
mean?  Such high-minded posturing outstrips anything of which Ms Hughes
is accused.

Terence Hawkes

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 22 May 2001 14:19:04 -0400
Subject:        Re: Tragic Hero

Concerning MoV, Clifford Stetner writes:

>I do think a two
>part allegory in which the narrative of the play serves as a parallel
>for contemporary political and cultural events is characteristic of a
>great many plays.

Yes. And the really interesting thing about Shylock, as I see it, is
that he points opposite ways, depending on your frame of reference. From
a Renaissance, conservative, religious point of view, Shylock is a man
of the past -- part of a tribe that used to be favored by God, but is
now out of favor, outmoded, outdated, and impoverished of spirit.  Yet
from an economic point of view, Shylock is the man of the future, not
only able to trade with the best of them, but also willing to loan at
interest (as many Elizabethans did!), and able, like a
good-proto-capitalist, to commodify things and relationships, and thus
quantify the qualitative, the hallmark of the new capitalism.

I wonder if this paradox (if that's what it is) made Shylock more of a
problematic character to Elizabethan audiences than, say, C.S. Lewis
recognized.

--Ed Taft

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Florence Amit <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 22 May 2001 22:09:06 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 12.1169 Re: Tragic Hero
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1169 Re: Tragic Hero

I am prepared to answer with as much precision that I can muster
questions that any members of the forum may want to put to me. For
instance: where Belmont might be from where Portia leaves for a short
land journey and then must take the identification papers of her servant
for a ferry ride, or how may those young men be classified , that
Solanio and Salaria disdain to converse with, but who never the less
select just them to witness an "elopement".

However Ms. Bonomi disqualifies herself from heeding me. She already
knows all the answers she needs, including those relating to my personal
psychology. I have a few times written her that she is mistaken about
the character of my "devotion". But she knows better. On the other hand,
I need not try to please Ms. Bonomi by my contributions, nor to ask
permission from her that they be shown. I do intend to stay a while
despite nuisance attacks which I will no longer regard.

Florence Amit

_______________________________________________________________
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Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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Re: Baby Shakespeare

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1186  Wednesday, 23 May 2001

From:           Terence Hawkes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 22 May 2001 13:26:12 -0400
Subject: Re: Baby Shakespeare
Comment:        SHK 12.1165 Re: Baby Shakespeare

Tanya Gough is too dismissive:

'All in all, the tape is an oblique, disjointed array of images and
sounds . . . No story line, no linear progression of thought.'

Sounds like Cymbeline to me.

T. Hawkes

_______________________________________________________________
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Re: Colorblindness

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1187  Wednesday, 23 May 2001

[1]     From:   Mike Jensen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 22 May 2001 10:28:00 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1175 Colorblindness

[2]     From:   Richard Burt <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 22 May 2001 14:00:45 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1175 Colorblindness

[3]     From:   Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 22 May 2001 14:28:46 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1175 Colorblindness

[4]     From:   John Velz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 22 May 2001 23:37:40 -0500
        Subj:   Color Blind Casting

[5]     From:   Pat Dolan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wed, 23 May 2001 06:47:09 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1175 Colorblindness


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 22 May 2001 10:28:00 -0700
Subject: 12.1175 Colorblindness
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1175 Colorblindness

Mr. Weinstein's observation:

>We do not see black actors playing Scotsmen in Braveheart or Rob Roy or
>British aristocrats in
>Merchant-Ivory films.  I don't hear anyone raising a hue-and-cry about
>this; so why the different standard for theatre?

may be true of the films he mentions.  I think of Denzel Washington
playing Don Pedro, and Adrian Lester as Dumaine in two of Ken Branagh's
Shakespearean films.

Are these exceptions?  Yes.  Mostly Mr. Weinstein is right, but the
exceptions seem worth noting.

I tend to think it would it be more productive to put this question to a
casting agent, than to members of this list, but we have clever and
informed people, so who knows?  I was once called a bigot for suggesting
that if is perfectly all right for a black man to play Hamlet, and it
is, then it is perfectly all right for a white man to play Othello, but
what does a bigot like me know?

Mike Jensen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard Burt <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 22 May 2001 14:00:45 -0400
Subject: 12.1175 Colorblindness
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1175 Colorblindness

Well, Kenneth Branagh has cast black actors to play roles conventionally
played by whites in his films of Much Ado, Hamlet, and LLL.  So color
blind casting  is not entirely confined to theater.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 22 May 2001 14:28:46 -0400
Subject: 12.1175 Colorblindness
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1175 Colorblindness

Charles Weinstein astutely makes a point that I was saving for later:

> We do not see black actors
> playing Scotsmen in Braveheart or Rob Roy or British aristocrats in
> Merchant-Ivory films.  I don't hear anyone raising a hue-and-cry about
> this;

and then he asks rhetorically

> so why the different standard for theatre?

I don't think there is much of a different standard in the theater
generally, just the classics.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Velz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 22 May 2001 23:37:40 -0500
Subject:        Color Blind Casting

> We do not see black actors
> playing Scotsmen in Braveheart or Rob Roy or British aristocrats in
> Merchant-Ivory films.
>

Yet we do see Denzel Washington playing a very suave aristocratic Don
Pedro in the Branagh *Much Ado* film.

Cheers for colorblindness!

John

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pat Dolan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wed, 23 May 2001 06:47:09 -0500
Subject: 12.1175 Colorblindness
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1175 Colorblindness

Charles Weinstein wrote:

> We do not see black actors
> playing Scotsmen in Braveheart or Rob Roy or British aristocrats in
> Merchant-Ivory films.  I don't hear anyone raising a hue-and-cry about
> this; so why the different standard for theatre?

If you don't hear any hue and cry about the lack of opportunity for
minority actors in the entertainment industry, it's because you aren't
listening. See for example, today's Salon magazine online at
http://www.salon.com/ent/tv/feature/2001/05/23/black_tv/index.html.

This is a factual matter: there have been substantial complaints from
African Americans, Asians and other actors, production personnel and
others about the number of jobs and portrayal of minorities in the
corporate entertainment world. And someone like Spike Lee is quite
willing to use the word "racist" for the ideological system that debars
African Americans from equal access to the roles that pay best and have
the most status.

The more interesting question is the one that Mr. Weinstein poses at the
end. I assume that he wants to say that there is little difference
between Braveheart and a production of Antony and Cleopatra. (Why are
contemporary white actors capable of playing Cleopatra, who was some
variety of Mediterranean human being? Greek? Black? Arabic? Short, dumpy
with bad teeth?) I think this is a questionable assumption.

While Shakespeare and his culture didn't envisage the photography of a
motion picture, they certainly left traces--the epilogue to the Tempest,
for example--that suggested that the willingness of the audience to
participate in the dramatic moment was key. In other (my) words, if you
believe African Americans can't play Scots, their performances won't
work for you, because you refuse your participation. If you decline the
invitation because of their lack of skill, that's one thing. But my
point is that while your participation may depend on features of your
cultural and ideological makeup which are neither conscious nor
particularly malleable, it's about you and not about the nature of the
theatre or the plays.

By the way, there's an interesting film by Jay Koh out there called
"Truth." It opens with a Korean American actor daydreaming about playing
one of the great Shakespearean roles (Lear? Prospero?). He wakes to find
that he's missed his cue with the spotlight he's running and we realise
that no matter how good an actor he may be, he will face severe
handicaps playing the prized roles in the canon because of his race. The
movie's not terribly well acted since it was self-financed by Mr. Koh.
(He's particularly hard on his own performance, but the price was
right.) But the opening sequence highlights exactly what we're talking
about.

Cheers,
Pat

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Webpage <http://ws.bowiestate.edu>

Pronouncing Shakespeare's Words

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1185  Wednesday, 23 May 2001

From:           Billy Houck <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 22 May 2001 13:12:06 EDT
Subject:        PRONOUNCING SHAKESPEARE'S WORDS

Does anyone know if or when a paperback edition of "Pronouncing
Shakespeare's Words" by Dale F. Coye will be published?

Billy Houck

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Webpage <http://ws.bowiestate.edu>

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