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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: November ::
Re: "most wonderful"--Twelfth Night
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2638  Wednesday, 21 November 2001

[1]     From:   Fran Teague <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Nov 2001 11:30:03 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2629 Re: "most wonderful"--Twelfth Night

[2]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Nov 2001 10:09:26 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2629 Re: "most wonderful"--Twelfth Night

[3]     From:   Jimmy Jung <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Nov 2001 14:43:38 -0500
        Subj:   "most wonderful"--Twelfth Night

[4]     From:   M. Yawney <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Nov 2001 15:08:52 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2629 Re: "most wonderful"--Twelfth Night


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Fran Teague <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Nov 2001 11:30:03 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 12.2629 Re: "most wonderful"--Twelfth Night
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2629 Re: "most wonderful"--Twelfth Night

In the discussion of twins and TWELFTH NIGHT, the subject of
Shakespeare's one other twin play, COMEDY of ERRORS has come up. The
comments, especially about Ben Jonson, have puzzled me.

Ben Jonson comments in CONVERSATIONS WITH DRUMMOND that "He had an
intention to have made a play like Plaut[u]s' AMPHITRIO, but left it off
for that he could never find two so like others that he could persuade
the spectators they were one." That remark does not seem to me to be an
attack on one of Shakespeare's plays, nor does it seem to be an unduly
restrictive literalism. What it does suggest is that if one wants to
consider how twins are represented on stage, it might be a good idea to
look to Plautus (as Jonson does) and consider MENAECHMI and AMPHITRUO.
In both plays the text insists upon the identical appearance, although
how one performs that feature is, of course, going to vary depending on
the conventions of performance and the assumptions of the culture.

Fran Teague <http://www.arches.uga.edu/~fteague>

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Nov 2001 10:09:26 -0800
Subject: 12.2629 Re: "most wonderful"--Twelfth Night
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2629 Re: "most wonderful"--Twelfth Night

With apologies, I worded something very badly in my post on Tuesday.

>Actually, experience suggests otherwise. Several productions have had the
>same actor
>playing one or both twins,

In the case of *Comedy of Errors,* the play I had in mind, this could be
interpreted as one actor played 4 roles, both sets of twins.  This is
not what I intended.  I meant that there have been productions where one
actor played both characters named Antopholus, and another actor played
both characters named Dromio.  Sorry if this confused anyone.

Mike Jensen

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jimmy Jung <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Nov 2001 14:43:38 -0500
Subject:        "most wonderful"--Twelfth Night

"Actually, experience suggests otherwise.  Several productions have had
the same actor playing one or both twins, which requires some slight of
hand for the last scene."

I'd love to know what slight of hand is used to pull this off?  They
exchange quite a few lines regarding dad's mole and drowning.

jimmy

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           M. Yawney <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Nov 2001 15:08:52 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 12.2629 Re: "most wonderful"--Twelfth Night
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2629 Re: "most wonderful"--Twelfth Night

> M. Yawney wrote,
>
> >For the joke of a twin play to work, it is
> important that the twins do
> >NOT look too much alike. The audience must be able
> to tell them apart.
> >If they look too much alike, the audience will
> share the other
> >character's confusion, rather than standing outside
> it and finding it
> >funny.
>
> Actually, experience suggests otherwise.  Several
> productions have had
> the same actor playing one or both twins, which
> requires some slight of
> hand for the last scene.  Perhaps this was done most
> famously by Des
> Barrit at the RSC a decade ago, in Ian Judge's
> production.  The audience
> was able to figure it out.

True, but when I have seen this done If he did not distinguish them by
either affect the thrill of his virtuosity would be absent, making the
exercise pointless.

>the actor altered his manner to distinguish the twins.

Of course twins could distinguish themselves from each other, but you
lose the point of having identical actors there as proposed earlier.

The joke in plays of mistaken identity (from Plautus to The Parent Trap)
is almost always based on the unexpected differences between to
similar-looking people--rarely is it funny that they are so much alike.

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