2001

Re: Joy Leslie Gibson's "Squeaking Cleopatras"

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1737  Wednesday, 11 July 2001

[1]     From:   Peter Groves <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 11 Jul 2001 09:31:27 +1000
        Subj:   Re: Joy Leslie Gibson's "Squeaking Cleopatras"

[2]     From:   David Kathman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Jul 2001 23:20:42 -0600
        Subj:   Re: Joy Leslie Gibson's "Squeaking Cleopatras"


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Groves <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 11 Jul 2001 09:31:27 +1000
Subject: 12.1726 Re: Joy Leslie Gibson's "Squeaking Cleopatras"
Comment:        RE: SHK 12.1726 Re: Joy Leslie Gibson's "Squeaking Cleopatras"

> From:           Thomas Larque <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
> I agree with your main point here, and will certainly try to get hold of
> your Monograph - but would your system really mark as few "potential
> intonation breaks" as Joy Leslie Gibson does?

On the contrary, it would mark a great many more; they're only
potential, however--you'd have to be desperately (even pathologically)
short of breath to use them all.

Peter Groves

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Kathman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 10 Jul 2001 23:20:42 -0600
Subject: 12.1726 Re: Joy Leslie Gibson's "Squeaking Cleopatras"
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1726 Re: Joy Leslie Gibson's "Squeaking Cleopatras"

Thomas Larque wrote:

>>From Dave Kathman:
>
>> I have not yet had a chance to read Gibson's book, but the second-hand
>> reports I've received accord well with what you describe: most of the
>> arguments are based on internal analysis of the plays themselves, which
>> I've always found to be a very perilous practice.  I prefer to go with
>> concrete, documentary evidence where it's relevant (as it is here).
>
>I agree completely and was very much disappointed by the lack of such
>evidence in Joy Leslie Gibson's account.
>
>> >In this quarter's "Shakespeare Bulletin" (Vol. 19, No.2 - Spring 2001)
>> >there is an interesting article by Marvin Rosenberg ... "The Myth of
>>>Shakespeare's Squeaking Boy Actor - Or Who Played Cleopatra?".
>
>> I have not yet seen this either, but I was very interested when I saw it
>> in the table of contents here on SHAKSPER.  What, specifically, are
>> Rosenberg's claims?  Who does he believe played the female roles on
>> the Shakespearean stage?
>
>Impressed by performances by middle-aged male actors in modern
>transvestite roles, such as Mark Rylance as Cleopatra in the
>Shakespeare's Globe's 1999 "Antony and Cleopatra", Rosenberg believes
>that "we had to look for a veteran male actor -- of the kind we see
>acting so entrancingly in the cross-dressing theatres of our own day".
>"In the adult companies", he suggests, "the actors of mature female
>roles had to be as a matter of course trained, experienced, professional
>*men*".

What seems most plausible to us in the 21st century does not always
accord with the historical facts.  Regardless of Rosenberg's belief, no
adult male actor on the pre-Restoration stage is known to have played
any significant female role; conversely, in every case where we know the
name of the actor who played a significant female role, and that actor's
age can be determined, the actor in question was a teenager.  (There are
a couple of apparent instances of an adult male actor playing very minor
female roles, of zero and six lines respectively, but even these are
questionable.)

>Unlike Joy Leslie Gibson, Rosenberg does marshal some concrete evidence
>for his claims of the kind that was seen in the SHAKSPER discussion on
>this subject.  In the Coventry mystery plays a "man" had been specified
>for two female roles.  John Rainolds "Th'overthor of stage-playes"
>refers to "young men ... trained to play women's parts" (I would have
>thought the use of the word "young" would clash with Rosenberg's
>"veteran", but apparently Rosenberg thinks not - he ignores references
>to youth in a couple of his other sources as well).  William Prynne's
>"Histrio-Mastix" refers to "our men-women actors" and "men [who] ...
>adulterate, emasculate, metamorphose and debase their noble sex".

Most of these have been discussed on this list, and will be addressed in
my article.  As I've said numerous times, a teenage boy could (and can)
certainly be referred to as a "young man", and "men" by itself is
ambiguous, especially in an age where the conceptual category "teenager"
did not exist.

>Rosenberg suggests that "boy" used as a verb, as in Cleopatra's line
>about "Some squeaking Cleopatra boy my greatness" is always used in a
>mocking sense, as by Gabriel Harvey, John Fletcher and Henry Moore (all
>cited in the OED).
>
>Rosenberg cites T.W.Baldwin as mentioning two men playing women's parts
>in 1635 who were aged between twenty-four and twenty-six.

Oh, no, no, no.  This claim by Baldwin was based on false factual
premises and a very tenuous chain of reasoning, which was thoroughly
demolished by W. S. Streett in "The Durability of Boy Actors", Notes and
Queries 218 (1973), 461-5.  The actors in question, Ezekiel Fenn and
Theophilus Bird, were in fact both teenagers when they played the only
female roles that can be assigned to them.

>He mentions
>the Cibber comment about a play being delayed because the Queen was
>shaving.

This was discussed on this list back in 1994, and as I pointed out then,
teenage boys have been known to shave.

>He quotes the prologue to the first performance of "Othello"
>with a female actress in which it is commented that "men act, that are
>between / Forty and fifty, Wenches of fifteen ... When you call
>Desdemona, enter Giant".

This is one of the only pieces of actual evidence for Rosenberg's
position, but as I've pointed out, it was written during the
Restoration, and thus may reflect the writer's perception rather than
actual pre-Restoration practice.  I'm willing to admit that adult men
may have sometimes played very minor female roles, but the principal
roles were all played by teenagers, according to all the evidence
available to us.

>He points out that Edward Kynaston was a young
>man when he played female roles in the Restoration period.

Kynaston was born in 1643, and thus was between 17 and 18 when he played
female roles in 1660-61.  By the time he was 19 he was playing male
roles exclusively.

>He finishes
>by approvingly citing Janet Suzman who claimed that Cleopatra must have
>been written "for a man, perhaps a kind of Shakespearean Danny La Rue
>... some kind of *prima donna* in his company playing women's parts.
>[Cleopatra] could never have been acted by a boy."

Suzman's intuitive opinion, like Rosenberg's, does not count for much
against the documentary evidence.

>> I had been hoping to write an article on this topic this summer, for
>> publication next year, but more pressing commitments (with August
>> and  September deadlines) have forced me to postpone it.
>
>I shall look forward to seeing this article, whenever it finally
>appears, and hope that Dave will be kind enough to let us know via
>SHAKSPER when and where it finally comes out.

I'll do that.

Dave Kathman
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Introducing Shakespeare

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1736  Wednesday, 11 July 2001

From:           Takashi Kozuka <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 10 Jul 2001 17:09:36
Subject:        Introducing Shakespeare

Just in time for our summer reading?!?!

The "Introducing" series now has a volume on Shakespeare by Nick Groom.
(Needless to say, it's entitled Introducing Shakespeare.) OK, I admit
that I bought a copy this afternoon... I'm going to read it on a train
to London when I'm going to a conference at Birkbeck College this
Friday.

Happy reading!

Takashi Kozuka

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Re: Macbett

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1734  Wednesday, 11 July 2001

[1]     From:   Marcia Eppich <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Jul 2001 10:36:06 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1724 Re: Macbett

[2]     From:   Edmund Taft <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Jul 2001 11:45:22 -0400
        Subj:   Re: Macbett

[3]     From:   Evelyn Gajowski <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Jul 2001 10:32:28 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1724 Re: Macbett


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marcia Eppich <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 10 Jul 2001 10:36:06 -0500
Subject: 12.1724 Re: Macbett
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1724 Re: Macbett

Karen wrote:  For that matter, are the witches of "Macbeth" in fact
"evil"?

This is an interesting question. Though the witches are described by
Macbeth and Banquo as being hideous, evil, etc., they are not really
responsible for Macbeth's tragic end. The weird sisters do not suggest a
course of action for Macbeth; however, their scenes are very suggestive
of evil. The very presence of witches is a matter of sensationalism. A
thrill for the Elizabethan audience, if you will. It doesn't really
matter whether or not the witches are inherently evil; they would be
presented as such on stage, don't you think? But the rub, as such, is
that they really don't do anything evil TO anyone in the play, but their
conjuring and whatnot can be considered evil. Then again, the amount of
influence the witches have on Macbeth could change depending on staging
and presentation. As far as the text is concerned though, they are the
catalysts for evil, but they don't seem to participate in the carrying
out of Macbeth's evil doings, obviously.

The fact is that Lady Macbeth does participate and goads Macbeth into
"being a man" and killing Duncan. Remember, Macbeth says in 1.7.31, "We
will proceed no further in this business..." And the retort from Lady
Macbeth is vicious - accusing him of being a "sissy" basically, and here
too, she makes the reference to dashing in a baby's skull while nursing.
This reference to nursing a baby, and other references, suggest that
there may be some parts of the play missing... like where is this baby
that Lady Macbeth has nursed?  Anyway, the real point is that Lady
Macbeth holds far more "real" influence over Macbeth than the witches
do.

In Ionesco's Macbett, the genius is that the first witch IS Lady Duncan,
who conspires with Macbett and Banco (Banquo) to murder Duncan, seducing
Macbett from the get-go. After killing Duncan, Lady Duncan marries
Macbett, but then betrays him. There is a scene in which Lady Duncan is
ripping off her royal clothing in favor of her dirty witch clothes -
including an apron with vomit on it. I don't have the book in front of
me or I would quote it, but it's a very interesting scene, showing just
how evil she is. And in the scene in which the witches are revealing the
first prophecies (actually, I think I remember that all of the
prophecies are revealed in the same scene), the two witches really goad
Macbett into the crime, just as Lady Macbeth goads Macbeth. It's a
masterful manipulation of the original text, and it made me feel some
sort of confirmation about my witch theories concerning Macbeth.  Of
course, just because Ionesco manipulates the witches that way doesn't
mean it's the only interpretation.

Marcia

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 10 Jul 2001 11:45:22 -0400
Subject:        Re: Macbett

If I had been Marcia Eppich's thesis advisor, I would have given her
high marks for her proposed thesis that Lady Macbeth is "a great
witch."  In fact, Marcia's idea helps bring us closer to a central
question in the play: Why does "vaulting ambition" (which we all have in
some form) lead to the horrendous acts we see in this play?

Lady Macbeth becomes a hag/crone/witch/wierd sister when she "unsexes"
herself. I wonder if a key to the play isn't that the Macbeths
apparently have no surviving children on which to project their own
hopes?  Many married couples confront the problem of lack of advancement
(on the job, socially, etc.) by redirecting their energies toward their
children and their children's future.
Macbeth and Lady Macbeth lack that outlet. In some ways, this couple is
starkly modern, committed to themselves because they seem to have no
children to be committed to, no way to displace their own frustrated
desires.

The result is that Macbeth turns into a monster and his wife into a kind
of witch. (This is not a politically correct reading, but Shakespeare
is, after all, not always our contemporary.)

At any rate, I think that Marcia's advisor ought to reconsider his/her
criticism of Marcia's proposed thesis.

--Ed Taft

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Evelyn Gajowski <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 10 Jul 2001 10:32:28 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 12.1724 Re: Macbett
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1724 Re: Macbett

For Marcia Eppich:

A few years ago a grad student working with me wrote a final project
titled, "Macbeth's Five Witches in History and on the Heath," and
delivered an abbreviated version of it at a conference.  She included
both Lady Macbeth and Macbeth among the five and established parallels
between Macbeth and the Earl of Bothwell.  I don't have it at hand and
my memory is dim, but suffice it to say that she was not the first to
deal with the suspected witchcraft of the 1580s historical figure.
There is, as I am sure other list members know better than I, a wealth
of material that attempts to read literary and historical witchcraft
intertextually.  Deborah Willis's *Malevolent Nurture: Witch Hunting and
Maternal Power in Early Modern England* comes to mind, as does the work
of witchcraft authorities such as Sydney Anglo, Stuart Clark, Ian
Macfarlane, and Keith Thomas.  Godfrey Watson's Bothwell and the Witches
deals with the specific issue mentioned.  SHAKSPER list members have
discussed the subject of witchcraft before.  If you are interested in
contacting the grad student, please write me off-list.

Evelyn Gajowski
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

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Re: Hamlet's Clashing Ideals

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1735  Wednesday, 11 July 2001

[1]     From:   Karen Peterson-Kranz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Jul 2001 10:20:50 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1727 Re: Hamlet's Clashing Ideals

[2]     From:   David Bishop <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Jul 2001 14:36:12 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1727 Re: Hamlet's Clashing Ideals

[3]     From:   Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Jul 2001 18:37:13 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1727 Re: Hamlet's Clashing Ideals


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karen Peterson-Kranz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 10 Jul 2001 10:20:50 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 12.1727 Re: Hamlet's Clashing Ideals
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1727 Re: Hamlet's Clashing Ideals

Paul Doniger writes:

> I'm sorry, but I see no place where Gertrude offers
> the drink to Hamlet,
> neither before nor after she drinks. Hamlet does say
> that he dares not
> drink, but this is not in reaction to anything
> Gertrude has said.

I could have sworn that she does offer him the cup, so I got out the
Riverside.  Sure enough, Paul is quite right, BUT it is interestingly
ambiguous.  Claudius offers the pearl, and toasts Hamlet:

"...Here's to thy health!  Give him the cup.
     *Drum, trumpets [sound] flourish.  A piece goes off [within].*
Ham.  I'll play this bout first, set it by a while.
Come.  [*they play again.*]  Another hit; what say you?
Laer.  [A touch, a touch,] I do confess't.
King.  Our son shall win.
Queen.             He's fat, and scant of breath.
Here, Hamlet, take my napkin, rub thy brows.  The
Queen carouses to thy fortune, Hamlet.
Ham.  Good madam!
King.              Gertrude, do not drink.
Queen.  I will, my lord, I pray you pardon me.
King.  [*Aside*] It is the pois'ned cup, it is too late.
Ham.  I dare not drink yet, madam; by and by.

While (unsurprisingly) there is no stage direction indicating who
Claudius is directing to "Give him the cup," since Hamlet answers, after
Gertrude drinks, "I dare not drink yet, madam," it seems reasonable to
assume that Claudius is telling the queen to offer the cup to her son.
And this is the way every production *I* have seen handles it.  Gertrude
drinks, then extends the cup to Hamlet, who refuses it with the line
above.  So, given all this, it seems reasonable that many of us have the
false memory of Gertrude *verbally* offering the poisoned wine, quite
unwittingly I would think.

> What
> is more, Gertrude's response to Claudius's
> insistence that she doesn't
> drink could be considered as having a very
> interesting sub-text: "I will
> drink, rather than let my son drink and therefore
> die by your hand."

IF Gertrude offers the wine (after she drinks) to Hamlet, there doesn't
seem much room for the above subtext.  At least to me it doesn't seem
so.  Again, I am probably prejudiced by the productions I have seen.
Paul mentions Olivier's version, which I haven't looked at in years, and
productions he has seen that support the subtext he outlines above.  So
I may be quite mistaken about all of this.  Comments, anyone?

Cheers,
Karen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Bishop <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 10 Jul 2001 14:36:12 -0400
Subject: 12.1727 Re: Hamlet's Clashing Ideals
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1727 Re: Hamlet's Clashing Ideals

I appreciate Paul Doniger's clarification of his position. It is not as
bad as I thought, though I still strongly disagree.

The ghost says,

But howsomever thou pursuest this act,
Taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive
Against thy mother aught. Leave her to heaven...

The contrast here is not, I would say, between mind and soul, though
they may be subtly distinguishable. It is rather between "this act", of
killing Claudius, and "that act": tainting thy mind or contriving aught
against thy mother. An overly simple translation, but one that caught
the main force of the line, would be, "Don't kill your mother, nor even
think about it."

On the grammar of "nor" I may be wrong in calling it literally an
intensifier, in a technical sense. In a non-technical sense, though, I
still find that a good term for how it works. The contrastive emphasis
falls on "mother", and is then reiterated in the emphasis on "her",
again in contrast with Claudius, in "Leave her to heaven". For support
here I would cite Jenkins's note in the Arden edition.

To think the ghost is advising a "pure" revenge makes no sense to me. I
don't understand what that would mean: to give it meaning would take
considerably more than this one phrase. We may drag possible meanings in
from elsewhere, but I don't believe Shakespeare would have left all that
meaning so implicit. If the ghost had any complex feelings about
Hamlet's revenge on Claudius he would say more about them--and he would
be a much different character than he is. Much of the emotional and
dramatic force of the play, as I think Steve Roth is saying, depends on
the ghost's command to take revenge on Claudius being both powerful and
unequivocal. The sources of Hamlet's hesitation come from elsewhere, and
work in opposition to the ghost.

Jenkins also adds a stage direction in the last scene. Gertrude drinks
"and offers the cup to Hamlet". I don't see another way of reading this.
Hamlet doesn't just say he dares not drink, he says "I dare not drink
yet, madam--by and by." That Gertrude has given him her napkin
establishes that she is standing next to him--and she's still there a
moment later when she says "Come, let me wipe thy face." One could of
course move her around the stage in between, and have her pick up
another cup, but that would lose the dramatic point of "I dare not
drink". There would be no tension in the line if he were not being
offered the poisoned cup. Those, like Olivier, who want a suicidal
Gertrude, therefore cut that line.

Best wishes,
David Bishop

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 10 Jul 2001 18:37:13 -0400
Subject: 12.1727 Re: Hamlet's Clashing Ideals
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1727 Re: Hamlet's Clashing Ideals

>From Paul Doniger:

> ALSO -- Larry Weiss wrote:
>
> >I have always thought that the opposing ideas are the nouns ("mind" and
> >"soul") not the verbs ("taint" and "contrive"),
>
> Yes, that is true, too. As an actor, however, I was always trained to
> focus on verbs. Could the Ghost mean both?

Possibly, but the accents are more heavily on the nouns.

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Re: To be or not to be

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1733  Wednesday, 11 July 2001

[1]     From:   Vick Bennison <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Jul 2001 11:23:46 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1729 Re: To be or not to be

[2]     From:   Arthur D L Lindley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 11 Jul 2001 10:18:20 +0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1729 Re: To be or not to be


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Vick Bennison <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 10 Jul 2001 11:23:46 EDT
Subject: 12.1729 Re: To be or not to be
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1729 Re: To be or not to be

Bruce Young states:

>He could perhaps be thinking of suicide if he thinks he owes God (or
> someone else) a death (compare 1 Henry IV 5.1.126; 2 Henry IV 3.2.235;
> Timon of Athens 3.5.82).
> But I think it more likely he's referring to revenge.  His father has
> been killed.  He believes--perhaps wrongly--that he has a duty, "owes"
> it to his father or to the code of honor he has been socialized to
> accept, to take revenge.

But taken in the context of the speech, how would killing Claudius be
payment for

                                "the whips and scorns of time,
     The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
     The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
     The insolence of office and the spurns
     That patient merit of the unworthy takes, "

In other words, you seem to be saying that Hamlet is saying "why should
I suffer all this crap when I could settle my accounts by getting
revenge on Claudius".  That doesn't make any sense.  How would getting
revenge on Claudius change his suffering the crap, unless, of course, he
assumes he will die in the process.  His statement doesn't make any
sense unless his death is part of the "quietus".  But why throw in the
topic of revenge at that point of the speech?  He says "who would bear
[this crap] when he himself [could do something with a dagger that would
make all this crap go away]"  He must do something with the dagger that
results in his death.  That is the only thing I can think of that would
make all the crap go away.  So "his quietus make" = doing something that
results in his death and, in my amateur opinion, the quieting of his
spirit.

- Vick Bennison

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Arthur D L Lindley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 11 Jul 2001 10:18:20 +0800
Subject: 12.1729 Re: To be or not to be
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1729 Re: To be or not to be

The available range of meanings for 'quietus est' might be suggested by
the Duchess of Malfi's use of the term in her proposal scene with
Antonio (1.2.380 in Brennan's New Mermaid edn.)  There the term is part
of the commercial language relating to A's role as her steward but is
also part of her promise of peace in marriage.  Since the proposal
follows directly upon Ferdinand's and the Cardinal's threats, the
audience will recognize that her quietus is also a death sentence.

By the way, I'm writing an article about the suppression of carnality
and the carnivalesque in DM.  At one point I mention in passing that the
world of Webster's play realizes the evils latent in Act I of As You
Like It (murderous fraternal hostility, for example). Has anyone
discussed this (probably loose) analogy?

Arthur Lindley

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