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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: January ::
Re: Distinctions
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0169  Thursday, 24 January 2002

[1]     From:   Steve Roth <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Jan 2002 10:18:04 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0125 Distinctions

[2]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Jan 2002 19:46:35 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0147 Re: Distinctions

[3]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Jan 2002 19:43:16 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0147 Re: Distinctions


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Roth <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Jan 2002 10:18:04 -0800
Subject: 13.0125 Distinctions
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0125 Distinctions

>No one in Shakespeare's company would have dreamed of casting Will Kempe
>or Robert Armin as Hamlet,

I disagree on this one. While we know Burbage played Hamlet, nothing
says that he always played Hamlet.

And the Hamlet I perceive--a pretty despicable (if humorous and
eloquent) Fool- and Vice-inspired character--would be perfect for Armin.
(This view of Hamlet's character is set out--excellently if perhaps too
categorically--in McGee's The Elizabethan Hamlet.)

It would be especially amusing to hear the Kemp-bashing lines
(especially the Q1 stuff) coming from Armin.

I address this Armin-as-Hamlet item, sort of in passing, at the end of a
recent article:

http://www.shu.ac.uk/emls/07-3/2RothHam.htm

I would love to see Hamlet played the way Armin [would have] played him.
Beale approached it, but (FWIW) that performance didn't gel for me. Felt
flat.

Thanks,
Steve
http://princehamlet.com

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Jan 2002 19:46:35 -0000
Subject: 13.0147 Re: Distinctions
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0147 Re: Distinctions

Martin Steward writes,

> Weinstein must get very upset whenever he sits down to read
> King Lear once again - indeed, I am sure we all do, but few of
> us would want to react to the experience in the way that Nahum
> Tate or Samuel Johnson did, or Weinstein himself appears to.
> It is indicative of the perfect muddle Tate made for himself that
> he should have eradicated the Fool while emphasizing the
> comic-romantic elements of the play.

For a defence of Tate's Lear, and an argument that Tate treated Q and F
as independent versions when working on his adaptation, see Sonia Massai
"Nahum Tate's revision of Shakespeare's _King Lear's_" Studies in
English Literature 40 (2000) pp. 435-450.

Massai argues that Tate's invention of a love affair for Cordelia and
Edgar, and the generally increased role for women, "are clearly a
tribute to the new practice" of women acting. Omitting the Fool was an
ideological matter: a source of criticism of the king had to go.
(Turning a regicidal tragedy into a comedy was, of course, an act of
reparation for 1649.) Tate makes explicit Lear's flaw in the opening
scene (characters discuss his rashness, "Chol'rick and suddain") but at
the same time makes it forgivable. In Q-LR, Lear isn't abdicating, only
settling marriage portions, and he's generally stronger than in F; thus
is he the more wronged by the events. Tate used this from Q but then
jumped to using F because he wanted the audience to feel sympathy (which
F generally does better).

Whether or not one agrees with Massai's readings, it seems rather harsh
to dismiss Tate's adaptation as a "perfect muddle". The Globe Education
"Read not Dead" staged reading of it (with Julian Glover as Lear), just
prior to the Theatre's 2001 season, convinced spectators I spoke to that
it should be taken serious on its own terms.

Gabriel Egan

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Jan 2002 19:43:16 -0000
Subject: 13.0147 Re: Distinctions
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0147 Re: Distinctions

Charles Weinstein writes,

> No one in Shakespeare's company would have dreamed of
> casting Will Kempe or Robert Armin as Hamlet, Lear, Othello
> or Macbeth; but ours is an age that confounds vital distinctions,
> including those between low comedy and high tragedy, the
> bourgeois and the royal, character actors and heroic agonists.

No-one in Shakespeare's company would have dreamt of casting a women
actor in a female role, either. By your logic, it would seem that their
age confounded vital distinctions which we have got right. Is that so,
and should we privilege the ones they didn't confound?

Gabriel Egan

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