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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: January ::
Re: Postmodern Shakespearean Performance
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0181  Friday, 25 January 2002

[1]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Thursday, 24 Jan 2002 17:19:21 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0170 Re: Postmodern Shakespearean Performance

[2]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Thursday, 24 Jan 2002 09:57:31 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0170 Re: Postmodern Shakespearean Performance

[3]     From:   Brandon Toropov <
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        Date:   Thursday, 24 Jan 2002 11:31:14 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0170 Re: Postmodern Shakespearean Performance


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Thursday, 24 Jan 2002 17:19:21 -0000
Subject: 13.0170 Re: Postmodern Shakespearean Performance
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0170 Re: Postmodern Shakespearean Performance

Al Magary lists the desiderata for ballerinas:

> 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.

You forgot anorexia and a willingness to endure osteoporosis in later
life.

Female actors generally get forced to take their tops off early in their
careers. That this is "simply" what happens doesn't make it right, Al.

Gabriel Egan

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Thursday, 24 Jan 2002 09:57:31 -0800
Subject: 13.0170 Re: Postmodern Shakespearean Performance
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0170 Re: Postmodern Shakespearean Performance

Mr. Weinstein asks,

>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.

Good point.

>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.

Not a good point.  One option is to regard this listmember as someone
who did something deplorable, knows it, and learned from the mistake.
Has it happened again?

Mr. Weinstien and I clearly do not have the same belief system, but I
forgive people when they make a mistake, then cease the behaviour.  And
let's be clear about the moral high turf.  Just because I, or any other
adversary of Mr. Weinstein's, is on morally shaky ground, does not
redeem Mr. Weinstein's homophobically questionable statements (which
have not reappeared recently, but did get this ball rolling).  Showing
that others are bad people does not make Mr. Weinstein good.  Mr.
Weinstein's well established pattern of statements are the best
indication of his moral nature - until such time as he changes that
pattern.

Mike Jensen

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brandon Toropov <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 24 Jan 2002 11:31:14 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 13.0170 Re: Postmodern Shakespearean Performance
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0170 Re: Postmodern Shakespearean Performance

Al Magary wrote ---

> 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 couldn't agree more. I do want to note, though, that Richard III is
perhaps the easiest example to pick. We should go further and point out
that those hard-to-define but impossible-to-ignore qualities known as
"charisma" and "physical attractiveness" are essential components of any
romantic lead in Shakespeare. To argue otherwise is to make a mockery of
the business Shakespeare was in: the ass business.  He was in the
business of getting people's asses into the Globe (or their shoe
leather, in the case of the groundlings).

Whether we think it's fair, unfair, or both at the same time, audiences
*expect* Romeo or Beatrice or Viola or whoever to look "a certain way"
-- or, perhaps more to the point, to inspire a certain primal curiosity.
(Precisely how adolescent boys went about eliciting that curiosity when
playing roles like Beatrice or Viola is, or course, another question,
but I feel quite confident that they did elicit it, or they lost their
jobs.)

So:

a) Some people really are wrong, in a fundamental sense, for some parts.

b) A successful theatrical performance depends on retaining the interest
of the audience.

c) It's not repressive to factor in audience interest and "buy-in" when
considering the appropriateness of a given actor to a given part. It's
human. (And can we seriously persuade ourselves that Shakespeare would
have done anything else in casting his plays?)

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