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's The Tempest
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0362  Thursday, 7 February 2002

[1]     From:   David Lindley <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 6 Feb 2002 18:51:43 GMT0BST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0356 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest

[2]     From:   Matt Henerson <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 6 Feb 2002 23:59:20 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0356 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Lindley <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 6 Feb 2002 18:51:43 GMT0BST
Subject: 13.0356 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0356 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest

> > Well I never!  It's as if most of the academic criticism of the play,
> > and virtually all the major productions of the last 45 years had never
> > happened. Can anybody really quite believe this any more?
>
> I'm intrigued. "40" as a shorthand for "40ish" I'd have given you,
> David, but the precision of "45 years" demands explanation. Just what
> happened in 1957?

Gabriel,

I think I chose the number simply because '40' would suggest the 60s
invented the dissonant Tempest (which they didn't) - but, fortuitously
perhaps, it was also the year of Gielgud's performance in Brook's
Stratford production. This performance, Dymkowski suggests, is the one
which 'decisively broke the mould' of benign, quasi-divine Prosperos.
(Though one should note that, in the end, Brook reintroduced the 'ship'
at the end, with, therefore, a strong suggestion of some redemptive
force in the ending - it was in 1963, when Brook and Clifford Williams
insisted in the programme note - written by the latter - that the play
as a whole doesn't come to tidy conclusions.)

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Matt Henerson <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 6 Feb 2002 23:59:20 EST
Subject: 13.0356 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0356 Re: Shakespeare's The Tempest

>Just what
>
>happened in 1957?

One of the things that happened in 1957 was Peter Brook's first
production of "The Tempest" at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre with
John Gielgud as Prospero.  This was the third of Gilegud's four stage
Prosperos, and, by all accounts, his most embittered.  Production
photographs show him in clothes supplied from what was available on the
island (skins and furs etc.), and I think I recall one shot of him
threatening Caliban (Alec Clunes) with a club.

This is entirely subjective, of course, but I tend to date the
theatrical re-imagination of "The Tempest" from Brook's second time
through the play.

This was a production he co-directed with Clifford Williams in 1962 for
the newly-formed Royal Shakespeare Company.  Tom Fleming (Kent in
Brook's "Lear" on stage and in the film) was Prospero and Roy Dotrice
was--for the first time so far as my understanding of the play's
production history goes--a recognizably human Caliban.  Here are a few
quotations from the program notes:

"...The play is full of movement and change, a flux of character in
which only Ariel and perhaps Antonio are stable: if there is any
reconciliation at the end, there is infinitely more irresolution.

It is this irresolution, which we believe is deliberate, that we've
tried to present.  A man spends his life trying to perfect his responses
to the world, to control himself and nature: he still ends up senile.
In this play, Shakespeare includes all the themes from his earlier
work...he draws them all together as if to find the key to it all, but
there is no such key.  ...Prospero returns to Milan not bathed in
tranquility, but  a wreck...

At one time we thought of...putting all the characters of the finale in
clown's costumes, to underline the derisory nature of the play's
'resolution.'

Perhaps this (Caliban's "seek(ing) for grace hereafter") needs a
stronger dose of de-sentimentalizing if we, and the audience, are to cut
through the preconceptions which surround the play.  As it is, one of
the front-of-house staff has resigned because of Caliban's phallic
gesture with his bone, although I talked to two Irish nuns about it, and
they were perfectly happy.  'It's part of man,' they said."

As I recall, this production wasn't very well received, although
something in the darkness and ambiguity of the approach must have struck
a chord, as major productions, both in Britain and the US, began
thereafter to explore some of the play's uglier possibilities.

Matt Henerson

_______________________________________________________________
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.