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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: February ::
Re: Place of Performance
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0380  Friday, 8 February 2002

From:           Laura Blankenship <
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Date:           Thursday, 07 Feb 2002 14:35:55 -0500
Subject: 13.0359 Re: Place of Performance
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0359 Re: Place of Performance

>Laura Blankenship urges her students to read 'A Thousand Acres' in the
>belief that 'Perhaps there's some way to encourage them to use the novel
>to help "fill in" the details of King Lear.'

This is not exactly why I "urge" my students to read A Thousand Acres.
My class deals with adaptations of Shakespeare's plays and thinking
about why those adaptations exist, what they might add to our reading of
the original, and how they might, in fact, detract from the original.
What I was thinking, in terms of details, was they if they see those
details fleshed out in the adaptation--setting, costuming, internal
monologue (of which there is considerably more in the novel)--that they
might be more apt to go back to the play and begin to imagine those same
things in the play.  If they see one person's version of, for example,
what the storm scene looks like, they might be able to envision their
own version.  It doesn't have to be the novel they turn to for this; it
could be a production, film or stage, or some other "version" of the
play.  I have, in fact, discussed all the pros and cons of adaptation
and variant performances with my class.

>But to reduce the play to
>the level of a novel, with its commitment to leaden-footed 'character
>development', closes off exactly those performative dimensions of the
>play which her classes are committed to explore.

Have you read the novel?  I don't think it's necessarily reductive.  I
personally prefer Lear, but I can appreciate the adaptation as well.
The novel does more than round out the characters.  I was really
expressing what my students seem to have latched on to as lacking from
Lear.  The form of the novel is much more familiar to them than a play.
As I said in my original message, most of my students have never seen a
play performed.  So performance to them is completely alien.  We are
just at the beginning of the term; I don't expect them to get this
aspect of Shakespeare instantaneously.

>As for a project which
>aims to ' ''fill in'' the details of King Lear', only the revelation
>that such probings 'sometimes inspire stunned silence' from her students
>gives cause for optimism. I'm with them.

I don't think that's my project; it's theirs.  And I think the stunned
silence is related to what Nicole refers to in her message, a lack of
creativity on their part.   In most of their classes, they aren't forced
to think about such things; they're told what to imagine.  In order to
get them to begin to imagine the performance is to put up with some
brief moments of silence while their brains kick in.

Laura Blankenship

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