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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: January ::
Re: For Sher
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0116  Monday, 21 January 2002

[1]     From:   P. D. Holland <
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        Date:   Friday, 18 Jan 2002 15:26:41 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0112 For Sher

[2]     From:   Bill Gelber <
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        Date:   Friday, 18 Jan 2002 13:23:00 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0112 For Sher

[3]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Saturday, 19 Jan 2002 16:40:13 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0112 For Sher

[4]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Sunday, 20 Jan 2002 11:21:52 -0800
        Subj:   The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0112


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           P. D. Holland <
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Date:           Friday, 18 Jan 2002 15:26:41 -0000
Subject: 13.0112 For Sher
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0112 For Sher

Ah, another generous, thoughtful, discriminating and even-handed report
from Weinstein on a production. I'd hate to miss his report of a
production he really disliked.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Gelber <
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Date:           Friday, 18 Jan 2002 13:23:00 EST
Subject: 13.0112 For Sher
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0112 For Sher

To Charles:

Before I read your name at the bottom of the message I knew it had to be
you doing the Sher-bashing. Okay, you don't like his work. I get it.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Saturday, 19 Jan 2002 16:40:13 -0000
Subject: 13.0112 For Sher
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0112 For Sher

After the excitement caused by one of Charles Weinstein's reviews (which
I usually don't read) I decided to pay attention to him next time.
Yesterday he posted his views on "Casebook of The Winter's Tale", which
is "a two-hour video focusing on the 1999 production directed by Gregory
Doran and starring Sir Antony Sher as Leontes".

I enjoyed this production in the December of 1998, but (as a forgetful
barrister once remarked to the amusement of those on the bench) I
haven't come here to argue. Weinstein says that the male lead was
"small, grotesque, [and] adenoidal", the female lead was "lovely" and
the man playing Polixenes was "oily, old and unattractive".

I expect to hear next that the ladies' dresses were created by 'Monique'
and delighted the gentlemen of the audience, and that by the
technological marvel of focused limelight all were able to enjoy the
craftsmanship of Messrs Dorbiton and Leavit.

Nay, dry your ears: Sher's performance wanted, of all things, the
"glimmer of eloquence".

Gabriel Egan

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Sunday, 20 Jan 2002 11:21:52 -0800
Subject: Conference: SHK 13.0112
Comment:        The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0112

I decided not to respond to Mr. Weinstein's latest tirade against
Anthony Sher and the RSC, and instead confine myself to any future
bigoted comments he may make.  I received a mailing from the RSC on
Saturday that changed my mind.  It is for the tape Weinstein wrote about
so viciously in Friday's post, and gives evidence that he did not take
the tape in its proper context.

While Mr Weinstein does include the fact that the tape is not a
performance of *The Winter's Tale*

>The Royal Shakespeare Company's "Casebook of The Winter's Tale" is a
>two-hour video focusing on the 1999 production directed by Gregory Doran
>and starring Sir Antony Sher as Leontes.

he reviews it as if it were, in that he complaints about the choices of
what to include and exclude.  This rather miss the point.  The brochure
makes it clear that the tape *is presented as a Production Casebook, a
124 minute edited version containing interviews with key members of the
cast and the RSC production that illuminate the creative and technical
challenges of staging this truly great play.*  So the goal was not to
present the play, but present parts of the play *that illuminate* these
challenges.

That being the goal, it seems to miss the point when Mr. Weinstein
complains about the cuts, and the characters who are not explored on the
tape.  Just as with a printed casebook, aspects of the play are chosen
for exploration, sometimes at the neglect of others.  This is perfectly
understandable.  Thus Mr. Weinstein's comment strikes me more as a
condemnation of casebooks, and that makes me wonder if his comments are
valid when they single out this tape.  True, I have not seen the tape,
but the brochure has a very different slant on the producer's goals than
we get from Mr. Weinstein's post.  I defend in principle anyone who
wants to explore only some aspects of a play or production.

Mr. Weinstein has made his contempt for Anthony Sher know before, so it
is no surprise when he comments that viewers:

>will witness the sorry spectacle of a gargoyle straining to be a
>saint:  a small, grotesque, adenoidal comic actor laboring mightily to
>become a Great Tragedian.

It occurs to me that Sher's performance was geared to a large theater,
not a camera, so evaluating it solely by the content of the tape may be
unfair?

The brochure quotes the *Sunday Times* on Sher's Leontes, *One of Sher's
most intense, most fully achieved performances.*  It also quotes the
Daily Mail on the production, *A masterful version of one of the
greatest plays .  . . not to be missed.*  It seems that Mr. Weinstein's
isn't the only opinion.  To be fair to Mr. Weinstein, I believe the
quotes are about the stage production, not the tape, though the brochure
does not indicate.

Still, one wonders why Mr. Weinstein bothered to write about it at all,
unless it was again to trumpet his superiority over Anthony Sher and the
RSC.  Since he long ago made his high opinion of himself clear, one
wonders why he keeps bothering to tell us what we already know?

Mike Jensen

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