2001

Re: LLW

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2435  Wednesday, 24 October 2001

[1]     From:   M. Yawney <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 23 Oct 2001 14:52:50 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2420 Re: LLW

[2]     From:   Christopher Paul <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 24 Oct 2001 08:41:15 -0300
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2407 Re: LLW


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           M. Yawney <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 23 Oct 2001 14:52:50 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 12.2420 Re: LLW
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2420 Re: LLW

> I think it likely that the First Folio contained all
> of Shakespeare's
> non-collaborative plays because:
>
> (1) it DOES contain all the extant plays that
> scholars agree were his
> alone;
>
> (2) Heminges and Condell, who were his intimates for
> some thirty years,
> SAID they'd collected all his plays.
>
> But I do not find it baffling that some still
> believe the First Folio
> did not contain all of Shakespeare's
> non-collaborative plays.

The operative word is EXTANT. Anyone who has spent any time storing
manuscripts for an author or archiving for a theater knows that things
do disappear.

I guess I misspoke before--I am baffled that people think that all the
plays of Shakespeare (especially the early ones and the less popular
ones) were still extant and locatable at the time the folio was
assembled some years after Shakespeare's death.

Meres is a fairly good authority and if he said there was a LLW, I
expect that there probably was, but it is probably a lost play sharing
the fate of Cardenio and many other tantalizing but irretrievable works
of the period.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Christopher Paul <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 24 Oct 2001 08:41:15 -0300
Subject: 12.2407 Re: LLW
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2407 Re: LLW

Bob Grumman wrote:

>I think it likely that the First Folio contained all of Shakespeare's
>non-collaborative plays because:
>
>(1) it DOES contain all the extant plays that scholars agree were his
>alone;<

There's been much dispute about additional hands, Robert Greene's for
instance, in *Titus Andronicus* and certain sections of *Henry VI*,
among other titles.  While most scholars are now resolved that these
plays were by Shakespeare alone, they are still far from agreement
regarding *Henry VIII*.

--Christopher Paul

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Re: The Merchant of RST

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2434  Wednesday, 24 October 2001

From:           Graham Hall <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 24 Oct 2001 09:58:32 +0000
Subject: 12.2400 The Merchant of RST.
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2400 The Merchant of RST.

As thick as hail came post with post.

Adrian Noble writes to outline "our bold plans for the future" and "put
to rest some of the inaccuracies that have been reported".

The "repertoire ensemble system" will be expanded on three fronts. Five
Shakespeare plays will be undertaken, three of which will be "late"
plays presented "in promenade." Six Elizabethan / Jacobean plays will be
performed further to examine the principles of acting of the period. TOP
will become the home of the "RSC Academy" and will "provide a link
between drama schools and professional theatre" to hone skills in
classical theatre, text and language. (Sounds like a sort of  posh
static version of the "Theatre in the Round" of the sixties). Moreover,
it will attend to experimentation, development and new writing.

The Barbican will become only one of a selection of London venues. (It
would be interesting to see the RSC do a production at the Globe - and
the Globe at Stratford for that matter!)

A "Stratford Theatre Village"(Oh dear! Perhaps sponsored by
Macdonalbain's) will be created between 2003-2007 (that's year not
hour).

This is indeed, as he says, "one of the most exciting, challenging and
ambitious periods in the history of the RSC."

So no mention of an increase in ladies lavatories then. And a
disappointing silence about  intentions regarding  "commercial"
productions, so beloved a feature of recent winters.

List subscribers should go to the RSC site for details and developments.

The RSC magazine (wickedly titled "The Dream Issue" with a pastiche from
Alice in Wonderland on the cover) contains an article by Noble expanding
on the future ideas for the RSC. Further, an article on  Merchant quotes
Ian Bartholomew (Shylock) [...] "the text is ambiguous and allows you to
make decisions[...]" which I would have thought is a tidy encapsulation
of the list's recent (King) Leah thread.

Finally, ibid, a young graduate from the bastard progeny of Oxford
announces the formation of the British Shakespeare Association (Details
at http://www.britishshakespeare.ws) and the inaugural meeting at the
Shakespeare Institute 2-3 Feb 2002 (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) "The gas is on
at the Institute" then , to misquote Betjeman.

Best wishes,
Graham Hall

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Re: Hall's Editions

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2432  Wednesday, 24 October 2001

From:           Mike Jensen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 23 Oct 2001 08:45:33 -0700
Subject: 12.2409 Re: Hall's Editions
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2409 Re: Hall's Editions

My thanks to everyone who wrote, both on and off-list, with answers to
my question about the edition(s) Hall used for his 1959 and 1962 *MND.*
I didn't actually get an answer, informed speculation was the order of
the days, but I am still grateful for the time and trouble you took.

all the best,
Mike Jensen

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Trevor Nunn's "The Merchant of Venice" on PBS

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2433  Wednesday, 24 October 2001

From:           Charles Weinstein <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 23 Oct 2001 17:24:51 -0400
Subject:        Trevor Nunn's "The Merchant of Venice" on PBS

In its conceptual strategies and interpretive choices, Nunn's production
marks no advance whatsoever over the Miller-Olivier Merchant of 1970.
Both productions transpose the play to a later period; both present the
Venetians as shallow, effete and despicable; both whitewash Shylock;
both make the Christians uneasy at their victory over the man; both
conclude with a Jewish song and the image of a remorseful Jessica.
Refusing to acknowledge that the Christians have considerable virtues to
offset their vices, and that Shylock has considerable vices to offset
his virtues, both productions opt for a simplistic melodrama of
decadence trampling on decency.  Nunn simply exaggerates these choices,
sentimentalizing Shylock to a nauseating degree.  It's significant (and
depressing) that the National's approach to this play has not changed in
thirty years.

Nevertheless, the texture of Nunn's production is often interesting,
thanks to his talent for finding novel yet valid ways of playing a line
or a moment.  If the dots, connected, do not add up to a new picture,
the process of following their connection is at least absorbing.  True,
some of the moments are borrowed from other productions.  Portia
flinging the hated caskets every which way when Bassanio wins her hand
is taken from John Barton's Merchant for the RSC, as is Tubal whipping
out an invoice in response to Shylock's lament about the unknown cost of
finding the thieves.  Similarly, Shylock's instant precognition of his
doom upon hearing the opening word "alien" in the statute read aloud by
Portia is quietly lifted from a brilliant moment of Olivier's.  Yet many
of Nunn's choices are new, at least to me:  the courtroom's disgust at
the immaturity of "Balthasar;" his/her resulting nervousness and
uncertainty, increasing the tension of the Trial Scene; Shylock
provoking Salerio into attacking him on "If a Jew wrong a
Christian...;"  Antonio reacting to Shylock's offer of an interest-free
loan with angry incredulity, stalking away until Shylock's protestations
of sincerity draw him back.  Perhaps the most original stroke is
Portia's clear attraction to Morocco despite her racist disclaimers to
the contrary--though Nunn blunts the force of this by casting a Black
actor as Salerio and sprinkling other well-to-do Negroes among the
Venetian haut monde.  This self-defeating adherence to the colorblind
ethos undermines the alienness of Morocco and the presentation of the
Christians as bigots; it also clashes with the historical and social
realities of the 1930s setting.

At times, Nunn shows a distressing tendency to impose moments on the
script, of which the most egregious example is Shylock and Jessica's
Yiddish duet.  Nunn promptly compounds this imposition with another,
having Shylock slap Jessica and then pantomime groping remorse.  The
slap can be justified, but not the remorse:  there is nothing in the
text which allows the actor to play such a moment, and his lines become
meaningless counters in a game of fabricated drama.  Nunn also cuts more
lavishly than he was wont, intent on denying the Christians most of
their moments of poetic idealization and beauty ("On such a night...").
Occasionally he plucks a line or a speech from its proper context and
shifts it to another scene, a flatly illegitimate tactic for which Orson
Welles has long since answered in the Afterlife.

Finally, Nunn's eye for casting has lost some of its erstwhile
sharpness, and his actors are a decidedly mixed bunch.  Henry Goodman's
celebrated Shylock is pedestrian in every respect:  it's amazing that
Nunn should have entrusted this role to so undistinguished a performer.
I did like Alex Kelly's Nerissa, Gabrielle Jourdan's Jessica and
especially Derbhle Crotty's Portia, her actor's intelligence triumphing
over a truly hideous hairstyle.  Alexander Hanson's aging Bassanio (is
Portia seeking a surrogate father?) is too bland to be satisfying, while
David Bamber's bloated and mannered Antonio appears tipsy throughout.
Chu Omambala brings a raw, engaging coltishness to Morocco, but Raymond
Coulthard's Aragon is simply inept, failing to manage a Spanish accent
or a recognizable burlesque of one.

Charles Weinstein

_______________________________________________________________
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Re: Leah and Merchant

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2431  Wednesday, 24 October 2001

[1]     From:   Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 23 Oct 2001 09:48:56 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2403 Re: Leah and Merchant

[2]     From:   Bruce Young <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 23 Oct 2001 17:29:35 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2418 Re: Leah and Merchant


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 23 Oct 2001 09:48:56 +0100
Subject: 12.2403 Re: Leah and Merchant
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2403 Re: Leah and Merchant

Louis Swilley asks

> Should the "Law" of the play really be extrapolated to
> consider how a Venetian might be dealt with who
> had:"by direct or indirect attempts " sought the life of
> an *alien*?   Applying this kind of thought to matters
> elsewhere in the play, might we not wonder why
> Antonio sought elsewhere for his loan, or why, after
> the loss of his argosy, he was not saved by loans from
> friends - or why this possibility, fraught as it is with such
> delicious potential for questioning the "Christianity" of
> these Christians, is never even discussed in any
> part of the play?

Stephen Orgel's plenary paper "Shylock's tribe" at the Seventh World
Shakespeare Congress in Valencia on 22 April 2001 offered an answer to
this question: we are to infer that Antonio is already a known bad risk
among the Christian money lenders, hence his resort to the Jew.

Gabriel Egan

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bruce Young <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 23 Oct 2001 17:29:35 -0600
Subject: 12.2418 Re: Leah and Merchant
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2418 Re: Leah and Merchant

As has been amply argued, Leah could be just about anybody.  More often
than novels, plays (unless they're written by someone like Shaw, with
his long prefaces, afterwords, and stage directions) give us details
that are not fully explained--that we're expected to make sense of.
That means, of course, that multiple interpretations are not only
possible, but inevitable.  We have to do our best to make sense of the
details, perhaps in a way that will make the play more coherent,
resonant, and potent.  (But of course some playgoers may do their
interpreting with other aims in mind.)

In trying to make sense of the ring Leah gave Shylock, I notice a couple
of things, in addition to the many that have already been mentioned.
One is that Shylock, talking with Tubal, drops the name Leah and the
allusion to his having been a bachelor without further explanation
(except that he would not have given it in exchange for a wilderness of
monkeys).  This suggests (possibly) that Tubal knows who Shylock is
referring to and may even know something of Shylock's bachelorhood.

The other thing I notice is that this is not the only ring in the play.
The ring trick played by Portia and Nerissa makes the point (if I can be
reductive) that "men should not give away their wives' (or their
intended's) rings to someone else."  Since the ring Leah gave has been
given (or rather traded) away by Jessica, there's an obvious parallel,
and if the parallel is pursued, then the idea that Leah was Shylock's
wife or intended will present itself.

Shylock has already foreshadowed Bassanio and Gratiano's fault in giving
away the rings when he said: "These be the Christian husbands"
(4.1.295).  The context makes clear that he sees Christian husbands as
untrustworthy.  We might reasonably infer from this that Shylock thinks
Jewish husbands (like himself) would be more trustworthy.  Again, we may
be led to connect this sentiment with the ring given by Leah: unlike the
Christian husbands, Shylock would never have given it away.  And if this
says something about him as a Jewish husband, then Leah might, quite
naturally, be his wife.

Another way to put all of this is that, though we're never told who Leah
is, other details in the play set up patterns into which the turquoise
ring nicely fits, if Leah was Shylock's wife.

But nobody's forcing us to notice those details or follow their
implications.

Bruce Young

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Webpage <http://ws.bowiestate.edu>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

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