2001

Re: Colorblindness

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1339  Sunday, 3 June 2001

From:           Edward Pixley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 01 Jun 2001 20:28:54 -0400
Subject: 12.1289 Re: Colorblindness
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1289 Re: Colorblindness

>So, if anyone has lasted this long - I wonder if anyone has seen a
>performance of Twelfth Night in which Sebastian was played by a female
>actor - if not, why not?
>
>David Lindley

Can't say that I have, but New York's Judith Shakespeare Company just
finished a run of The Tempest with a female Sebastian, as well as a
female Prospero and Trinculo--with very good critical reception, I might
add.  Artistic Director Joanne Zipay is continuing her company's
commitment to exploring the potential for playing varieties of male
roles as female throughout the Shakespeare canon.  Titus Andronicus,
Comedy of Errors, Julius Ceasar, Macbeth, King John, and The Tempest are
among the plays her company has already produced, and this fall she is
planning to start on the entire sequence of History Plays, beginning
with Richard II.  Besides Zipay's exciting work with female casting,
color-blind casting is simply a matter of course in her company.  Get on
her mailing list:  P.O.  Box 60, Times Square Station, NY 10036.  I
don't have the company's e-mail address handy, but I would be happy to
share it with anyone interested.

Ed Pixley

P.S.  By the way, a lot has been made, and justly, of Denzel
Washington's performance as Don Pedro, but I hope that people also
remember his stage performance as Richard III with the New York
Shakespeare Festival a few years back, with Mary Alice's disarming Queen
Margaret.  And, while I'm on the subject, I have to mention James Earl
Jones' unforgettable King Lear at the same festival about twenty-five
years ago, with Raul Julia as the most memorable Edmund I have ever
seen.  I had the wit to videotape that production, but, unfortunately, I
have [illegally, I'm afraid] shown it to so many theatre appreciation
freshmen that the tape finally disintegrated.

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Re: Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1338  Sunday, 3 June 2001

From:           Richard Nathan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 01 Jun 2001 20:54:39 +0000
Subject: 12.1318 Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1318 Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare

Jennifer Ailles asked about Canadian adaptations of Shakespeare.  I do
not know of any from personal experience, but in the playbill for the
Stratford, Ontario production of "HAMLET" last year, Skip Strand (a
professor of English and dram studios at Glendon College at York
University in Toronto) listed a number of original plays that were
spun-off from "HAMLET," and stated that all but three of the plays were
Canadian.

The plays he listed were:

1. "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead"  (I know that one isn't
Canadian).
2.  "Claudius"
3.  "Elsinore"
4.  "Fortinbras"
5.  "Gerturde and Ophelia"
6.  "Hamlet Machine"  (isn't that one German?)
7.  "Haunted House Hamlet"
8.  "Mad Boy Chronicle" and
9.  "Hamlet's Room."

I'm not sure which six of these are Canadian.

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Lord Chamberlain

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1336  Sunday, 3 June 2001

From:           Dan Wright <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 1 Jun 2001 12:31:22 -0700
Subject:        Lord Chamberlain

In 1594, the Lord Chamberlain informed the Lord Mayor of London that
while "heretofore they [the Lord Chamberlain's Men] began not their
Plaies till towards fower a clock, they will now begin at two, & have
don betwene fower and five," suggesting that two to three hours'
performance was the norm--at least for that company--and other sources
confirm this for other playing groups as well.  We know there were
exceptions to this, however, and some plays may have taken as many as
five hours to perform, as Sir John Davies' "In Fuscum" attests.

Daniel Wright

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Re: Tragic Hero

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1337  Sunday, 3 June 2001

From:           Thomas Larque <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 1 Jun 2001 21:15:32 +0100 (BST)
Subject:        Re: Tragic Hero

Thank you to Hardy for his explanation of the problems with my previous
post, and I am sorry if I am now causing him the same problems with this
post.

Since my last posting I have managed to put a few spare minutes, during
my library research, to looking into Ms. Amit's arguments.  Ms. Amit's
suggestion that "Merchant of Venice" "was banned" looks even more
dubious after a little research.  It turns out that a break of a century
between documented productions is not unique to "Merchant".  A Quarto
edition of "Love's Labours Lost" apparently states that it was performed
at the Blackfriars, which would mean sometime after 1609 when the
Blackfriars began to be used by the King's Men.  The next documented
production of "Love's Labours Lost" was in 1800.  Nobody, to my
knowledge, has ever suggested that the play must have been banned in
order to explain such a gap.

Moreover, when the performance rights to Shakespeare's plays were
divided between the two authorised Shakespearean theatres after the
Restoration, "Merchant of Venice" was allocated to the Theatre Royal.
Although the Theatre Royal does not seem to have performed the play, it
is obvious that no performance rights would have been granted if the
play had been banned.  This means that the play was legal in 1605, when
it was performed twice in front of King James, and was still legal in
the 1660s, when it was allocated to the Theatre Royal.  This leaves only
40 years in which the play could have been banned before the performance
of an adaptation of the play in 1701.  If the ban had been so recent
then it seems unlikely that it would have existed without being recorded
or that it would have been lifted without comment.

On my way back from the Shakespeare Centre Library, I dropped into the
Shakespeare Bookshop and picked up a copy of James Shapiro's
"Shakespeare and the Jews".  This interesting book, which I have only
had time to dip into, contains a number of comments that are relevant to
our discussion.

Ms. Amit seems unable to accept that a Renaissance play might contain a
Jew acting villainously and inhumanly.  She tells us that these are
"absurdities that should have given the audience pause", and then seems
to demand that Shakespeare depict his Jewish characters (of which there
are only two, Shylock and Tubal) with psychological and historical
realism .  She says "It is absurd for a man to want a pound of any man's
flesh, quite as absurd as had been the libel of blood that it parodies.
It is likewise absurd that a Jew in dispersion, willy nilly, without a
very good motive, would call attention to himself and to his brotherhood
so dangerously by a proposal so demonstrably evil. It is absurd that
because a bigot perfunctorily spits upon his clothing during a time of
expulsions, of trials and even death for Marranos, of book burning and
the confiscation of property by the inquisition, that a Jew would choose
such a relatively innocuous deed as Antonio's, to 'revenge' himself
upon. While his interest would be to survive the persecution. It is
absurd for an observant Jew who would be under the daily jurisdiction of
Rabbinical law, to confuse monetary matters with criminal penalties or
that such a savage forfeiture would be countenanced by the rabbis and
therefore by himself.  It is absurd that a Jewish father who had lost
his only child would cry out in a 16th century Venetian square,  'my
daughter, my ducats'."  Ms. Amit seems to me to be demanding that a
Renaissance author write for a 21st Century, post-holocaust, liberal
audience.  Many Renaissance writers and audiences would not have
accepted Ms. Amit's suggestions.  Not only would people accept a
fictional villain demanding his pound of flesh and crying for his money
(something that was expected of all fictional villains, whatever their
religion), but people were happy to accept supposedly factual accounts
which painted Jews as equally inhuman and bloodthirsty in real life.

Shapiro cites a sermon by John Donne in which the poet and preacher
claimed that "a barbarous and inhumane custom of the Jews" was to
"always keep in readiness the blood of some Christian, with which they
anoint the body of any that dies amongst them, with these words, 'If
Jesus Christ were the Messiah, then may the blood of this Christian
avail thee to salvation' " (p.2).  Shapiro adds that other factually
stated beliefs included that "Jews stank and Jewish men menstruated; how
Jews abducted Christian children; how Jews sought to emasculate
Christian men".  This latter belief is illustrated in the text by an
amusing illustration from "Coryat's Crudities" titled "fly from the
Jews, lest thy circumcise thee" and showing a traditionally dressed Jew
pursuing a running Englishman while brandishing a knife.  Given this
background of hostility and credulousness, Ms. Amit's confidence that
neither Shakespeare nor his audience could have taken seriously a
fictional Jew demanding a pound of flesh seems exceedingly na


King John's Boys

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1335  Sunday, 3 June 2001

From:           Graham Hall <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 01 Jun 2001 18:51:01 -0000
Subject:        King John's Boys

The current KJ at the Swan substitutes the boy actor playing Arthur for
a mannequin in a wig and throws it off the "walls" (4.3). This may well
be to meet the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act or to
avoid complaints from the lad's mother. Using a live boy every
performance in times past would substantiate John Jowett's theory
regarding shortages of boy actors however.

During the performance I attended, a member of the audience remarked
(loudly) as the dummy plummeted to the stage, "Hopefully, that was the
director." This was not an opinion to which I fully subscribed although
there were the odd moments during the performance when I would have been
sympathetic to the wish.

All in all they made a good fist of it.

_______________________________________________________________
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.
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