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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: October ::
Re: "The Scottish Play"
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2384  Thursday, 18 October 2001

[1]     From:   Stuart Manger <
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        Date:   Thursday, 18 Oct 2001 00:15:31 +0100
        Subj:   SHK 12.2376 Re: "The Scottish Play"

[2]     From:   Brian Willis <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 17 Oct 2001 19:32:10 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2376 Re: "The Scottish Play"

[3]     From:   David Kathman <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 17 Oct 2001 21:03:59 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2376 Re: "The Scottish Play"

[4]     From:   Martin Steward <
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        Date:   Thursday, 18 Oct 2001 09:12:35 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2362 Re: "The Scottish Play"


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stuart Manger <
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Date:           Thursday, 18 Oct 2001 00:15:31 +0100
Subject: Re: "The Scottish Play"
Comment:        SHK 12.2376 Re: "The Scottish Play"

Anne Robinson is NOT a joke and she is indeed merciless, vicious,
humiliates losing contestants on air, and this was almost certainly a
deliberate attempt to pressurise an actor knowing full well what his
superstitions were. The audience and the ratings seem to love her. What
does that tell you about how Elizabethan audiences might have behaved
towards Malvolio for example?

We see her a lot in UK, and she is not a lady to mess with on air!

Stuart Manger

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Willis <
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Date:           Wednesday, 17 Oct 2001 19:32:10 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 12.2376 Re: "The Scottish Play"
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2376 Re: "The Scottish Play"

Well, this actor was just trying to be cute. The curse only occurs if
the name Macbeth is uttered INSIDE the theatre or acting space being
used. Unless "The Weakest Link" was a play, it shouldn't have mattered
very much. Anne Robinson was, and always is, very strict in her
acceptable answers.

B Willis

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Kathman <
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Date:           Wednesday, 17 Oct 2001 21:03:59 -0600
Subject: 12.2376 Re: "The Scottish Play"
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2376 Re: "The Scottish Play"

Don Bloom wrote:

> Martin Steward  writes,
>
>>On an edition of The Weakest Link featuring contestants who were actors
>>in the soap opera Eastenders, one of the questions required the answer,
>>"Macbeth". The contestant hesitated before offering, "The Scottish
>>Play".  Ann Robinson was merciless in her refusal to accept this answer.
>>Therefore, this should stand as an example of an actor's refusal to say
>>"Macbeth" resulting in bad luck.
>
>For reasons I find difficult to explain, this anecdote fascinates me.
>Stateser that I am, I don't know the show or Ms. Robinson, but the
>implication of "mericiless" is that she knew of the superstition and
>used her position of power in order to try and compel an actor who
>believed in it to violate it. This sounds very arbitrary and tyrannical
>(or at least quite mean), not qualities you ordinarily find in quiz show
>hosts. At least, you don't usually see them displayed over the air.
>
>Was it as strange and ominous as it sounds? Was it ominous but covered
>up with jocularity? Or completely innocent and I'm allowing my
>imagination to run away with me?

Actually, Don, there is also an American version of "The Weakest Link",
with the very same Anne Robinson as the host.  It's on NBC on Monday
nights.  Part of the gimmick of the show is that Robinson is mercilessly
insulting to the contestants.  She never smiles and never says anything
nice to anybody.  Somebody I know in another online community was
actually a contestant on the show, and he said they never interacted
with Ms. Robinson until just before the cameras started rolling, and
were whisked away right after the cameras stopped, with the host
remaining "in character" the entire time.

Dave Kathman

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[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <
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Date:           Thursday, 18 Oct 2001 09:12:35 +0100
Subject: 12.2362 Re: "The Scottish Play"
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2362 Re: "The Scottish Play"

Don Bloom asks, with reference to the "Weakest Link" anecdote, "Was it
as strange and ominous as it sounds? Was it ominous but covered up with
jocularity? Or completely innocent and I'm allowing my imagination to
run away with me?" The answer, I guess, is "ominous but covered up with
jocularity". The show has become synonymous with cod-Nietzschean
(Machiavellian?) nastiness. Contestants who perform least well during a
round of questions are told by Ann Robinson, with a contemptuous glare,
"You are the weakest link - goodbye". This has rapidly become a
ubiquitous catchphrase in the UK (there is currently an economist
advertisement which assures the potential buyer, "You are the strongest
link"; and I believe it has even been used in the House of Commons). The
show has been to the US, briefly but recently and with the same
presenter, and I gather it enjoyed moderate success.

As for "The Scottish Play", I think that the anecdote lends credence to
an earlier correspondent's suggestion that this and other actors'
superstitions offer some kind of "guild"-like respectability. In the
past, one can imagine that this was essential to a profession which was
considered less than dignified. Today, when screen actors populate the
new Pantheon, it performs a different function. The contestant in
question played one of the more, shall we say, "sad" male characters in
the soap opera Eastenders; I think he has been a member of the cast
since the show's inception back in about 1985, and as far as I know he
has never played any other role on stage or screen.  The temptation to
invoke the "curse" must have been irresistible, conferring as it does
the status of "real" actor, and associating, in some small way, the
humblest jobbing mummer with the Larry Oliviers of this world. Having
written this, I have come to a new appreciation of Robinson's question
as the cruellest (and most ingenious) barb I have ever witnessed during
the course of The Weakest Link.

Goodbye,
Martin S.

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