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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: January ::
Re: Postmodern Shakespearean Performance
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0085  Wednesday, 16 January 2002

[1]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 15 Jan 2002 16:41:45 -0800
        Subj:   Postmodern Productions

[2]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 15 Jan 2002 10:13:52 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0066 Re: Postmodern Shakespearean Performance

[3]     From:   Brian Willis <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 15 Jan 2002 10:15:04 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0080 Re: Harbage and the Postmodern

[4]     From:   Karen Peterson <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 16 Jan 2002 03:12:49 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0080 Re: Harbage and the Postmodern


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Tuesday, 15 Jan 2002 16:41:45 -0800
Subject:        Postmodern Productions

>>>Weinstein's post is absurd.  His attempt to quote others who agree with
>>>him, as if that validates him, suffers from illogic when confronted by
>>>the facts. I direct Weinstein's attention to *London Theatre Record,*
>>>which has all the London newspaper reviews of Beale's Hamlet, and to the
>>>sensitively observed review in *Shakespeare Newsletter*. If it is a
>>>matter of counting the votes yea or nay, Weinstein loses.

But criticism is not a democratic process.  The person with the most
knowledge, and who uses it to make the most incisive points, wins an
audience.  This is why the *SNL* review is so impressive.  Since
Weinstein tends to write about what he does not like in a production, as
if the production itself is corrupt when those very things often work
for others, Weinstein loses again.

Hiding behind the excuse that another reviewer may have made a bigoted
remark to justify his own habit of doing so is also unconvincing.  What
is it that two wrongs don't make?

Mike Jensen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Tuesday, 15 Jan 2002 10:13:52 -0000
Subject: 13.0066 Re: Postmodern Shakespearean Performance
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0066 Re: Postmodern Shakespearean Performance

Karen Peterson wrote,

> I cannot bear to see films or plays or television
> programs in which animals are treated badly and/or are killed.  The RSC
> currently features a play which has received a glowingly enthusiastic
> reception, *The Lieutenant of Inishmore."  I know that this play
> involves doing Bad Things to a cat (not to mention even worse things to
> humans!).  I do not intend to see this play because I KNOW that I would
> be unhinged by the cat-abuse (yes, yes, I know that it's "all pretend"
> and that no actual animals are actually hurt during the performance,
> etc.  It doesn't matter.  I still would get upset).

The play does not involve "doing Bad Things to a cat", although in the
story a cat comes to harm accidentally. The suffering of the humans is,
however, largely intentional. That audiences, and at least one of the
protagonists, find the former more unbearable than the latter is rather
the playwright's point, I should think.

Gabriel Egan

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Willis <
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Date:           Tuesday, 15 Jan 2002 10:15:04 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 13.0080 Re: Harbage and the Postmodern
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0080 Re: Harbage and the Postmodern

I wrote extensively on Simon Russell Beale's Hamlet for my dissertation
at the Shakespeare Institute. The two reviews cited here are
representative of every single review I read in one way: within the
first two paragraphs, they ALL commented on the physicality of Beale. I
was forced to address my dismay at such a common occurrence.

However, these reviews are in the vast minority when it comes to their
reception of the performance. A great deal of the reviews disliked most
things about the production but were enamored with Beale's performance
of the title role. Although I believe everyone is entitled to their
opinion on performances since they are such idiosyncratic things in
themselves, I do believe that every person who saw the production who
were able to put aside their preconceived notions of what Hamlet "should
look like" found the performance to be powerful, intelligent, funny,
tragic, and charismatic. The vast majority of the reviews support this
reception. Perhaps it is the view that "Hamlet shouldn't be short or
fat" that kept Beale from playing the part for so long. And that is a
shame. I'm glad that it was worth the wait. It is a luminous performance
that I will never forget as long as I live.

Brian Willis

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karen Peterson <
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Date:           Wednesday, 16 Jan 2002 03:12:49 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 13.0080 Re: Harbage and the Postmodern
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0080 Re: Harbage and the Postmodern

Charles Weinstein writes that in response to my previous posting,

> I would like to quote from two reviews
> of Beale's Hamlet, both of which appeared after
> mine.

Mr. Weinstein misses the point.  Or perhaps he does not miss the point
and is attempting to create a diversion.

I will not take the bait.  The list has already discussed at some length
Simon Russel Beale's performance in the National's recent production of
*Hamlet*.  By citing two reviewers who happen to share Mr. Weinstein's
views, he does no more than to prove that he is not alone in holding
narrow, exclusive, and (yes, that word again) *bigoted* views and
stereotypical preconceptions about personal and physical characteristics
of actors performing various Shakespearean roles.

Mr. Weinstein concludes his diversionary foray by writing,

> I also support [Brustein's] and Simon's right to
> comment on any actor's face, physique, age, voice
> and personality, the suitability of these attributes
> to the role he or she is playing, and their
> contribution to (or detraction from) the ultimate
> artistic effect.  And of course I claim the same
> right for myself.

I believe this is called setting up a straw man.  I, and others, have
been quite clear in saying that Mr.  Weinstein does indeed have the
right to voice his opinions, howsoever obnoxious I or others may find
them.  I quite strongly stated that he should not be silenced.  I *did*
suggest that he examine his own opinions, and *perhaps* temper or not
include those that reflected no more than his own highly personal
preferences and that were likely not to contribute to greater
understanding on the part of his readers.

I write this in the attempt to clarify.  I realize that Mr. Weinstein's
objective was to throw me and others into a defensive stance.  I am
reluctant to indulge him past the point of the above clarification.

Mr. Weinstein has the right to think and say whatever he wants.  Those
of us who find *some* -- not *all* -- of his views repellant also have
the right -- no, the *obligation* -- to speak our minds as well.
Perhaps in this process we may succeed in producing not only heat but
also light.

Karen E. Peterson
University of Wales, Lampeter

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