Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: February ::
Re: Shakespeare from the bottom up
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0341  Wednesday, 6 February 2002

[1]     From:   Don Bloom <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 5 Feb 2002 10:20:25 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0319 Re: Shakespeare from the bottom up

[2]     From:   Ann Carrigan <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 05 Feb 2002 12:13:55 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0287 Reading Shakespeare Backwards

[3]     From:   Edward Pixley <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 06 Feb 2002 08:58:22 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0306 Re: Shakespeare from the bottom up


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 5 Feb 2002 10:20:25 -0600
Subject: 13.0319 Re: Shakespeare from the bottom up
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0319 Re: Shakespeare from the bottom up

To add my two cents to the "bottom up" thread: I discovered (or imagined
I had, after reading of it someplace), that one could clarify many of
Shakespeare's plays wonderfully by starting at the end and working
backwards (or upwards). This worked with "Shrew" (first, as I recall)
and then with other commonly misunderstood / misread / over-interpreted
works ("Hamlet," "Merchant," any of the Prince Hal plays, among others).

What is the author actually saying at the end, where, if he has been
successful, the reader or audience-member is most under the power of his
work? That should be the checkpoint for all critical and dramatic
interpretations.

Two more points:

1) If you find yourself compelled to read or act the ending
"ironically," you need to reconsider whether the irony is really there,
or whether you are imposing it in order to protect some beloved
interpretive insight which would lose much of its validity if exposed to
the plain truth.

2) I have found the technique also useful in dealing with novels (pace
Forster), even those that prove the rule like "Great Expectations."

Cheers,
don

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ann Carrigan <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 05 Feb 2002 12:13:55 EST
Subject: 13.0287 Reading Shakespeare Backwards
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0287 Reading Shakespeare Backwards

Whitt Brantley wrote -

<<On the monologues, try having the students read from the bottom up. In
other words, begin with last sentence first. You'll be surprised what
you'll find.>>

Martin Steward responded:

<<I am not a teacher with a bunch of students at hand upon whom to try
this experiment; I am sure I will not be alone in wanting to know what
the effect is!!! Do tell!! One would expect gobbledygook...!>>

I, too, am curious what this will yield. It seems a bit hard to do
sometimes, because in many cases, they are not easy sentences to break
down and rearrange.

Since I'm revisiting Troilus and Cressida at the moment (in conjunction
with an online discussion elsewhere) I chose Troilus's speech upon
seeing Cressida and Diomedes. Here it is rearranged (as close to "by
sentence" as I could muster).

<<The bonds of heaven are slipp'd, dissolved, and loosed;
And with another knot, five-finger-tied,
The fractions of her faith, orts of her love,
The fragments, scraps, the bits and greasy relics
Of her o'er-eaten faith, are bound to Diomed.

Cressid is mine, tied with the bonds of heaven:

Instance, O instance! strong as heaven itself; strong as Pluto's gates;

Instance, O instance!

Within my soul there doth conduce a fight
Of this strange nature that a thing inseparate
Divides more wider than the sky and earth,
And yet the spacious breadth of this division
Admits no orifex for a point as subtle
As Ariachne's broken woof to enter.

where reason can revolt
Without perdition, and loss assume all reason
Without revolt: this is, and is not, Cressid.

Bi-fold authority!

O madness of discourse,
That cause sets up with and against itself!

If souls guide vows, if vows be sanctimonies,
If sanctimony be the gods' delight,
If there be rule in unity itself,
This is not she.

If beauty have a soul, this is not she;

no, this is Diomed's Cressida:

This she?>>

I'm not sure what I gleaned from reading it backwards except to note
that in reverse, Troilus grows more confused. And the rhythm is lost.
Maybe I'm not giving it the right spin?

One activity I have on occasion found very rewarding in understanding
character is to do what Joseph Papp suggested in his introduction to The
Festival Shakespeare edition of Troilus and Cressida. He lay out
Cressida's lines in the "parting scene" (if memory serves, a
continuation of 4.2 and 4.4) by themselves -- essentially, the "sides"
for Cressid's part. Absent everyone else's speech, it can inform on a
character and a situation from a a single perspective. Try just Shylock
or just Caliban, p

--Ann Carrigan

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edward Pixley <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 06 Feb 2002 08:58:22 -0500
Subject: 13.0306 Re: Shakespeare from the bottom up
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0306 Re: Shakespeare from the bottom up

> I've observed it in action a few times in the past.
>
> Once, was with a professional actor who was having trouble connecting
> the thoughts in the monologue.  He tended to gloss over what he
> subconsciously did not or could not understand.
>
> I think it was the opening speech in Richard III.  Anyway, the director
> asked him to go line by line....backwards.  And in his opinion, it
> seemed to help give each line a new and distinct clarity...an
> independence within the whole...
>
> It also help him to find where the transitions were in the speech.

Some of you may be familiar with David Ball's marvelous little book,
"Backwards and Forwards," in which Ball, who, in his youth, served as
dramaturg at the Guthrie Theatre, lays out this technique
systematically.

Cheers,
Ed Pixley

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, 
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
The S H A K S P E R Webpage <http://www.shaksper.net>

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.
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.