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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: October ::
Re: Actors' Additions
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2438  Thursday, 25 October 2001

[1]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 24 Oct 2001 12:19:17 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2422 Re: Actors' Additions

[2]     From:   Robin Hamilton <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 24 Oct 2001 17:12:44 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2422 Re: Actors' Additions

[3]     From:   Marcus Dahl <
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        Date:   Thursday, 25 Oct 2001 05:57:47 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2422 Re: Actors' Additions


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Wednesday, 24 Oct 2001 12:19:17 -0400
Subject: 12.2422 Re: Actors' Additions
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2422 Re: Actors' Additions

Bill Godshalk questions

> But why would anyone add extra-metrical, meaningless phrases to a
> script? What would be the point? And do we have an evidence at this was
> ever done?

It could be done to enhance the significance to the audience of the
metrical meaningful passages.  A play in performance consists of a great
deal more than the speeches; the pauses in between are often at least as
important, and extra words might be added to provide the needed beats.

For example, in Ham,III.i.101 (Riv), Ophelia adds the unmetrical,
relatively meaningless, "There my lord" to the end of the speech which
would otherwise end with the highly significant completely metrical

        "Take these again, for the noble mind
          Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind."

I conjecture that the extra three words were added to provide the
necessary beats to enable Burbage to register the realization that
Ophelia has been thoroughly prepped by Polonius and is, to his mind,
traitorous.  Of course, there is no reason to assume that WS himself did
not write these words, but it is also possible that they were added in
performance by an actor who found a need to say something to cover the
pause while Hamlet registers the realization and conveys the necessary
information to the audience.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robin Hamilton <
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Date:           Wednesday, 24 Oct 2001 17:12:44 +0100
Subject: 12.2422 Re: Actors' Additions
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2422 Re: Actors' Additions

> From:           Tony Burton <
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 >

> Homer (if he ever existed), Plato (if his
> teachings are accurately preserved), their scriveners and translators,
> and on and on.

Tony:

I presume you mean here Socrates (as presented by Plato) rather than
Plato himself.  There isn't that much instability in the MSS of Plato,
is there?  (Leaving aside the fuzzy edges like Alcibiades II and the
Seventh Letter.)

I'm still rather drawn to Kierkegaard's undergraduate dissertation, _The
Concept of Irony with Constant Reference To Socrates_.  SK argues that,
of the three witnesses to Socrates (Xenophon, Plato, and Aristophanes),
Aristophanes is the most accurate.

Rather like that view myself -- prioritising the poet and playwright
over the soldier or the scholar.

Robin

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marcus Dahl <
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 >
Date:           Thursday, 25 Oct 2001 05:57:47 EDT
Subject: 12.2422 Re: Actors' Additions
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2422 Re: Actors' Additions

Another point to add to this discussion is that actors additions need
not be added by the actors themselves. According to folkloric analysis
one would call this process of addition, omission etc the 'oral milling'
of the text.

A case in point from my own work is in 3HVI (a folio only text) Act3
(modern editions) when the 'characters' Sinklo and Humfrey enter. Try
counting the number of times the words 'deare' and 'here/heare' are
repeated in a very short section directly after the explicit mention of
actors names (i.e.  Sinklo and Humfrey) within what is usually presumed
to be an 'unperformed' text. These repetitions (and there are many more
examples) form part of the wider pattern of oral transmission noted in
the folkloric tradition.

There is as Bill Godshalk notes a certain mystery in WHO wrote down the
amendments to the text and in what context but the wider phenomena is
nothing unusual in theatrical and orally derived texts. The traditional
explanation for the orally derived amendments in Shakespearean studies
has of course been 'pirates' and 'surreptious' copiers by ear.

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