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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: November ::
Re: My Old Brain is Troubled
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2699  Friday, 30 November 2001

[1]     From:   Daniel Traister <
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        Date:   Thursday, 29 Nov 2001 10:06:23 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   My Old Brain Is Troubled

[2]     From:   Sam Small <
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        Date:   Thursday, 29 Nov 2001 15:55:14 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2695 Re: My Old Brain is Troubled

[3]     From:   Sam Small <
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        Date:   Thursday, 29 Nov 2001 15:55:14 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2695 Re: My Old Brain is Troubled


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Daniel Traister <
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Date:           Thursday, 29 Nov 2001 10:06:23 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        My Old Brain Is Troubled

Markus Marti's experienced retort in defense of bad acting to Terry
Hawkes's sentimental and old-fashioned contempt for "lousy acting" --
"The lousier the actors, the better," Marti reminds us: "Lousy acting is
what you need to get your laughs"; "Only lousy acting will get laughs"
-- must explain why the virtues of American actors are praised
throughout the un-terrorized world. Marti's additional throwaway -- his
remark "that there is no comic element left in Shakespearean comedies
that is not known to everyone in the audience" -- certainly explains
something I have always found surprisingly difficult to explain, viz.
the easy familiarity my students display when they read or see
Shakespeare. It is enough to make one consider the attractions of
retirement -- why teach what they already know?

Daniel Traister
University of Pennsylvania

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sam Small <
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Date:           Thursday, 29 Nov 2001 15:55:14 -0000
Subject: 12.2695 Re: My Old Brain is Troubled
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2695 Re: My Old Brain is Troubled

Markus Marti writes,

>The problem, I guess, was rather due to too good acting.  The lousier
>the actors, the better: Lousy acting is what you need to get your
>laughs.

I disagree with Markus Marti.  Lousy acting is not funny.  It is
embarrassing and insulting, especially if you have paid good money to
watch.  However, humour is one thing that is simply not universal either
by culture or century.  German and French humour, for instance, just
leaves me amazed and stupefied.  I know that most Americans and British
feel the same.  (But I have to say that Tati is my favourite film
humourist, though.)  There may be some culture somewhere that finds 1599
London humour hilarious, but I doubt it.  Like the "Carry On" films of
British yesteryear the jokes are dead and gone.  Humour seems to be
fashionable in that it somehow depends on the feel of the times.  We can
appreciate the cleverness and topicality of old humour, but it just
doesn't tickle the giggly bits.

SAM SMALL

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sam Small <
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Date:           Thursday, 29 Nov 2001 16:20:32 -0000
Subject: 12.2683 Re: My Old Brain is Troubled
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2683 Re: My Old Brain is Troubled

Mike Jensen writes,

>I have sat in clueless audiences,
>but usually find the actors at fault when audience does not react.  We
>react to what is presented, most of the time.

For once I have to agree with Mike Jensen.  However, the responsibility
is with the director.  Some performers revere Shakespeare's lines so
much they feel that all they have to do is say them clearly with some
sort of metric emphasis.  I have heard professional actors say as much.
The result is blood-gorging boredom.  On the little recording I have
done (the Sonnets) I realised that it is an extraordinary amount of work
to project meaning without sounding forced.  It felt like driving a
Formula One racing car in that you have to concentrate on every word's
meaning and sound or else you crash off the track.  I propose a golden
rule for actors of Shakespeare: Meaning hath metre; metre none.

SAM SMALL

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