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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: July ::
Re: Cressida (Ashland)
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1853  Wednesday, 25 July 2001

[1]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 24 Jul 2001 08:02:29 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1849 Re: Cressida (Ashland)

[2]     From:   Karen Peterson-Kranz <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 24 Jul 2001 11:34:59 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1849 Re: Cressida (Ashland)


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Tuesday, 24 Jul 2001 08:02:29 -0700
Subject: 12.1849 Re: Cressida (Ashland)
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1849 Re: Cressida (Ashland)

I'm a bit puzzled by Richard Nathan's comments.

>I think the production made clear that Cressida was not Helen in the
>scene in which the Greeks demanded kisses of Cressida.  Mike Jensen
>suggested that any sympathy for Helen came from the performance of the
>actress in the role.  But in the scene where the Greeks demand kisses,
>they are clearly threatening rape.  This results in Cressida having to
>turn to Dimodes for protection.  I think that is enough to make it >clear
>that Cressida is not Helen.

Perhaps you meant that I suggested that any sympathy for CRESSIDA came
from the performance?  Actually, I didn't.  I wasn't discussing
sympathy, but character motivation.  Sympathy may be included, I
suppose, but that was not my intent.

As for the rest of the comment, I mostly agree, so I don't see the
problem.  Actually, this was one of the things that really worked for me
in OSF's production.  The way Taylor Layton played the kissing scene was
wonderful of heart wrenching.  At was a gang rape of the lips.  Each
kiss made her more wretched and violated than the previous.  It was
ugly, and hard to watch the progression of her soul's violation.
Cressida seized the opportunity of Menelaus claiming his kiss to avoid
being raped by yet another man, in a way that seemed exactly right.  It
was very well done.

As for Cressida not being equated to Helen, I went to some pains to
point out the differences that I saw in the production, but the fact
that they are given identical dumb shows should not be ignored.

Mike Jensen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karen Peterson-Kranz <
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Date:           Tuesday, 24 Jul 2001 11:34:59 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 12.1849 Re: Cressida (Ashland)
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1849 Re: Cressida (Ashland)

> The first time I read "Troilus and Cresida," and I
> got to the ending, my reaction was - "WHAT????
> THAT'S IT???  WHAT KIND OF RESOLUTION IS THAT?  WHAT
> HAPPENS NEXT?"  And that's still my reaction.  The
> play seems to me like part one of a mini-series,
> waiting for part two.

I was interested that Richard Nathan noted the "unfinished" quality in
the playtext.  That quality seems to be in the story itself, not just
Shakespeare's version.  Chaucer's telling inspired at least one "sequel"
by another hand: Robert Henryson's late 15th century "Testament of
Cresseid," in which we catch up with Our Heroine years later, listen to
her bemoan and renounce her past "sins."  Henryson, like some
interpreters of Shakespeare's play, assumes -- rather unthinkingly --
that Cresseid is a "whore." Which is rather odd, since (at least in my
reading) Chaucer's Chriseyde is presented quite sympathetically.  I have
always thought that Shakespeare showed himself to be an attentive reader
of Chaucer, as demonstrated by his allowing his Cressida to retain the
complexity which others (like Henryson) stripped from her in their
desire to characterize her as the quintessential "false" woman.

Cheers,
Karen Peterson

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