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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: October ::
Re: Actors' Additions
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2397  Friday, 19 October 2001

[1]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Thursday, 18 Oct 2001 12:03:04 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2365 Re: Actors' Additions

[2]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Thursday, 18 Oct 2001 13:13:19 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2379 Re: Actors' Additions


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Thursday, 18 Oct 2001 12:03:04 -0400
Subject: 12.2365 Re: Actors' Additions
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2365 Re: Actors' Additions

P. D. Holland writes:

>For precise details of a (reasonably) early example of an actor's
>additions, people might look at Joseph Wood Krutch's Comedy and
>Conscience After the Restoration (1924). . . .
>The examples were accumulated by
>informers in the audience who were working for one of the Societies for
>the Reformation of Manners or similar organisations in the wake of
>Collier's attack on the stage.

P. D. Holland's example would suggest that actor's additions were NOT
copied into (or onto) the play script. The additions were attested to by
informers in the audience, not by examining the script.

Hamlet admonishes the players: "let those that play your clowns speak no
more than is set down for then" (Oxford ed. 3.2.38-39).  Would it be
appropriate to generalize this admonition?  Would Shakespeare have
approved of adding meaningless, extra-metrical phrases to his text?  No
matter how you answer that question, why would someone take the time to
do it?  And if we are going to blame actors for these additions, why
can't we blame the compositors?

Yours, Bill Godshalk

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Thursday, 18 Oct 2001 13:13:19 -0400
Subject: 12.2379 Re: Actors' Additions
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2379 Re: Actors' Additions

William Proctor Williams points out that he

>  wasn't raising the copyright
> question but responding to it in the previous postings by several
> people, who suggested it as a restraint on modern practice of adding or
> not adding actors' additions to scripts/texts.

My apologies for misunderstanding.

But this raises an interesting question:  Is it customary when mounting
a new play for the actors' contracts to provide that any changes they
might make (inadvertently or not) are works made for hire?  That should
eliminate the dilemma facing an author who has to decide whether to
accept or reject an actor's improvement.

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