Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: January ::
Re: Postmodern Shakespearean Performance
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0170  Thursday, 24 January 2002

[1]     From:   Charles Weinstein <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Jan 2002 19:19:56 -0500
        Subj:   Postmodern Shakespearean Performance

[2]     From:   Al Magary <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Jan 2002 17:29:06 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0155 Re: Postmodern Shakespearean Performance


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Charles Weinstein <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 23 Jan 2002 19:19:56 -0500
Subject:        Postmodern Shakespearean Performance

1.My position on the criticism of acting is shared by several eminent
practitioners, and for reasons that I have already discussed, I believe
that it is defensible.  In any case, I have yet to read a convincing
argument against it.

2. A listmember who sends a death-wish to another listmember
("Weinstein, I hope you die of brain cancer damn soon") is in a dubious
position to claim the moral high-ground.  A listmember who "apologizes"
for such behavior by blaming it on the recipient of the death-wish ("I
descended to your level") is, if anything, in an even more dubious
position.  Would Mr.  Evett defend such behavior as "disinterested
indignation"?  Would Ms.  Kranz?   May Simon and Brustein expect to
receive e-mails wishing them dead as well?

--Charles Weinstein

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Al Magary <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 23 Jan 2002 17:29:06 -0800
Subject: 13.0155 Re: Postmodern Shakespearean Performance
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0155 Re: Postmodern Shakespearean Performance

David Evett wrote,

>  People who claim a disproportionate share of the goodies on
> the ground that who they are, not what they have done, entitles them to
> it...get
> legitimately trashed and bashed.  To exclude from their share of
> opportunities to play Iago or Hamlet people who are fat or gay or
> female-regardless of their other claims on these spoils-is to claim for
> the slender or the straight an unfair portion.

We are in the middle of such an argument here in San Francisco, where
the aggrieved mom of a young girl who was denied a place in SF Ballet
School is suing.  The Ballet position (ha) is that the girl has the
wrong body shape for classical ballet.  The mother says that's
discrimination:  "My daughter can dance."  The Ballet disagrees on that
point as well, but the suit may be fought on grounds of discrimination.
(Incidentally, the mom was an unsuccessful ballerina herself and seems
to be a classic backstage mother.)

I'm with the Ballet on this:  as currently defined by classical ballet
tradition, ballet companies, company dancers, most aspirants, ballet
audiences, and perhaps most of all, ballet underwriters, girls must be,
to start with, slender and straight and have great flexibility in their
joints.  Classical ballet is simply not an equal opportunity endeavor.

Without applying that principle to all art, let me apply it to some
degree to Shakespeare.  Of course Shakespeare doesn't have rigid
physical requirements, perhaps not for any of a thousand roles, though
I'm sure there are exceptions.  Nevertheless the principle applies to
most Sh. roles at least to the extent that some physical attributes for
some roles are just *unacceptable* and many others barely tolerable to
most of those involved either behind the curtain or in front of it.

If all 3 billion of us tried out for Richard III, for example, at one
end of the range of talent, acting skill, etc. would be a few of the
world's greatest actors (consensus) and at the other would be some
unfortunate souls who are, say, catatonic most hours of the day.

I could conceive of a version of R3 with a capable actor in a wheelchair
(whether the actor was disabled or not) in the title role but not a
person who sleepwalks gently from stage left to stage right, or sleeps
on the throne, with someone in gray standing behind him doing the
lines.  (I am assuming no saving graces or an artificial environment,
such as a production in an institution, a la Marat/Sade.)  Am I bigoted
in being realistic about the *unlikelihood* of artistic achievement in
such a production?  One need not even consider other aspects, such as
audience acceptance or market success.

There is such a thing as believability as a casting criterion.  The
audience must accept so very much in theater that to see and hear actors
with one or more unbelievable major characteristics is to experience
diminished drama.

I claim no professional credentials in this argument, only the just
expectations of an audience member who has paid admission.

Al Magary

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, 
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
The S H A K S P E R Webpage <http://ws.bowiestate.edu>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.