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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: October ::
Re: Actors' Additions
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2472  Sunday, 28 October 2001

From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Friday, 26 Oct 2001 15:32:15 -0400
Subject: 12.2438 Re: Actors' Additions
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2438 Re: Actors' Additions

Marcys Dahl notes,

>There is . . . 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.

I found what might be interpreted as an actor's addition in Troilus and
Cressida. I give the Q version:

Pan: Here, here, here he comes, a sweete ducks.
Cres. Oh Troilus, Troilus.
(4.4.12-13).

The Folio has: "a sweet ducke."  Final s's and e's look a great deal
alike in the secretary hand. Otherwise the two lines are substantially
the same.

Hypothetically, "a sweete ducks/a sweet ducke" is an "actor's addition."
Take out those three words, and you have a ten syllable line shared by
Pandarus and Cressida.  Shared lines are common in Shakespeare's text.

But there is no evidence (that I know of) that "a sweete ducks/a sweet
ducke" was first spoken by an actor and then added to the script by pen
hand unknown.  Could we assume (until we get solid evidence to the
contrary) that Shakespeare as actor/playwright with an ear for dialogue
wrote the phrase without the help, say, of Robert Armin?

Yours, Bill Godshalk

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