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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: February ::
Re: Place of Performance
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0394  Monday, 11 February 2002

[1]     From:   Whitt Brantley <
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        Date:   Friday, 8 Feb 2002 11:13:59 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0380 Re: Place of Performance

[2]     From:   Mari Bonomi <
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        Date:   Friday, 8 Feb 2002 12:29:28 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0380  Re: Place of Performance

[3]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Friday, 8 Feb 2002 13:12:59 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 13.0380 Re: Place of Performance


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Whitt Brantley <
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Date:           Friday, 8 Feb 2002 11:13:59 EST
Subject: 13.0380 Re: Place of Performance
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0380 Re: Place of Performance

>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

Ironically, there are NO internal monologues in Shakespeare!

I don't mean to single any one person out, because it is a great
misconception in this day and age with Stanislazsky, Meisner, and the
others....

"Contemporary" theatre is about what is "not said".  What's "in between"
the lines.  Shakespeare is about acting and speaking on the line.  There
are no secrets in Shakespeare.  No inner monologues.  His characters
keep no secrets from the audience.

They literally regurgitate all their thoughts out on to the stage.

Look at Iago, look at Richard III...I would venture to say that there is
NOT one single character in Shakespeare that holds a hidden agenda.  As
a matter of fact, the audience is privy to all secrets.

Regards,
Whitt

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mari Bonomi <
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Date:           Friday, 8 Feb 2002 12:29:28 -0500
Subject: 13.0380  Re: Place of Performance
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0380  Re: Place of Performance

While I have some serious personal reservations about the philosophy of
teaching students literature by having them read/see other works
supposedly dealing with the "same" story/characters/themes in order to
"understand" the work at hand, I have to defend Laura Blankenship in one
key area.

Explaining her students' stunned silence, she says,

 >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.

to which I reply with hearty huzzahs.

As a person involved for years with the preparation and induction of
novices to the teaching profession, I have long taught and demonstrated
the basic pedagogical concept of wait time.  That is, one must give a
time for cognition to begin before one can expect to receive answers
beyond the mundane, ordinary, regurgitative ones too many of us were
expected to provide in our high school and undergraduate educations.

Research into cognition has long supported this approach.  I could go on
for pages about it (it plays a big part in my "teaching for thinking"
workshops along with "brain drain"-- the processes by which brains are
drained of the mundane in order to make room for creative thinking).

I believe that the reason so many students cannot conceive of an image
of Shakespeare's plays (or any other literary work) is not simply that
they have seen the movie and are trapped in that image; it is to me much
more likely to lie in the denial by too many of their teachers of the
opportunity to form their own images... the luxury of TIME to think, to
imagine, and then to delineate their own vision.  Too many houses of
education still, despite whatever lip service they pay to creativity,
demand far more convergent than divergent thinking.  Governmental
imposition of tests (gee, thanks, Dubbya, for giving us still more of
them) demanding essentially the same answer to earn high scores has made
the scenario even grimmer.

I still remember vividly my own department head observing me teaching
R&J, and asking "why might Romeo have told Benvolio to draw and beat
down their weapons (3.1) " and then waiting for at least half a minute
before taking student responses.  He was clearly restive; he also
brought it up at our post observation conference.  I explained to him
the theories of praise and wait time; he never again seemed so restive
when observing me.  He did admit that the answers my students offered
were better than the ones his own students tended to offer up.

Mari Bonomi

PS  It was a student answer to my question above that generated my own
vision of 3.1-- Romeo says that, suggested the student, b/c he's just
come from his marriage in the church and was therefore not armed w/ a
sword.  From this student's attempt to look at the text logically-- that
is, to find implied stage directions <BG>, comes the stage picture I
will always block, I suspect, for 3.1 in my mind.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Friday, 8 Feb 2002 13:12:59 -0500
Subject: Re: Place of Performance
Comment:        SHK 13.0380 Re: Place of Performance

Laura Blankenship writes (of Lear and A Thousand Acres)

>Have you read the novel?  I don't think it's necessarily reductive.<

Yes I have. It reduces the large political, social and economic concerns
of the play (the issues of Kingship, of national governance, of the
structure of society etc) to the smaller domestic focus of personal and
familial relationships, rivalries and finally incest. Your students'
'stunned silence' at the suggestion that the novel might to any degree
illuminate the play strikes me as highly intelligent. I'd be inclined to
join it.

T. Hawkes

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