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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: January ::
Re: Authenticity
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0236  Tuesday, 29 January 2002

[1]     From:   Steve Roth <
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        Date:   Monday, 28 Jan 2002 09:34:04 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0209 Authenticity

[2]     From:   Takashi Kozuka <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 29 Jan 2002 12:22:33 +0000 (GMT)
        Subj:   Re: Authenticity

[3]     From:   Brandon Toropov <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 29 Jan 2002 05:05:50 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0209 Authenticity


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Roth <
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Date:           Monday, 28 Jan 2002 09:34:04 -0800
Subject: 13.0209 Authenticity
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0209 Authenticity

Sam Small wrote,

>the leading actor arranged the play around himself

I've been quite curious about this. How do we know that the lead did the
arranging? I haven't found any statements to that effect. Would love to
hear about any.

>Another aspect
>sometimes forgot is that some plays were written for a small, royal
>audience.  Almost what we would call today a "studio" audience.  The
>lines were written to be spoken softly to an appreciative, silent
>audience.  A play written for the large, open, noisy Globe would be very
>different.

I think this is the key area where we can never hope to achieve
"authenticity"; we can't re-create the audience (be it private, public,
court, inns of court, other, or all of the above). There's no need to
resort to poststructuralist locutions to say that the audience's
expectations, understandings, and responses have a huge impact on texts
and performances, both in their creation and their delivery.

While sayings like "we're all Elizabethans" (can't remember who said
that--Mark Rylance?) have something to say in terms of how we should
attempt "authenticity," they don't remove the fact that we as audiences
can't engage with performances the way Elizabethans did. So the
performances can't engage us, or attempt to engage us, in the same way
either.

I've often thought it would be fun to see Shakespeare (and other early
modern) performances developed purely for audiences of Shakespeare
scholars--working all those Elizabethan allusions to the hilt in hopes
that a reasonable part of the audience will get the jokes (or at least
jot them down in their table books for later enjoyment).

Thanks,
Steve
http://princehamlet.com

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Takashi Kozuka <
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Date:           Tuesday, 29 Jan 2002 12:22:33 +0000 (GMT)
Subject:        Re: Authenticity

Brian Willis points out,

> I find this statement problematic. Even the New
> Globe is not entirely
> obsessed with achieving an absolutely authentic
> performance of
> Shakespeare. It is also difficult to state that we
> know what Shakespeare
> would approve of as a good performance.

And once we enter the territory of the "performance" (rather than
"manuscripts"/"scripts"), whether or not *Shakespeare's*  own approval
would be considered "authentic", and in what sense it would or it
wouldn't, would be other issues to consider.

Best wishes,
Takashi Kozuka

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brandon Toropov <
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Date:           Tuesday, 29 Jan 2002 05:05:50 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 13.0209 Authenticity
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0209 Authenticity

The "sound-pictures" -- views from the cliff in KING LEAR, moonlight in
MERCHANT and MND, etc. -- in Shakespeare's plays always seem to work
particularly well in (good) audio versions; I have often thought radio
might just be the "best" medium. Audio productions certainly make more
demands on the imagination than most cinematic productions and
contemporary stage efforts, and thus seem (to me) more in line with
Shakespeare's theatre than scenery-heavy renditions and cinematic
spectaculars.

Having now seen work at the New Globe, I wish there were a similar stage
in every major city in the U.S. -- the productions there are authentic
and involving in a way no other theatrical experience has ever been for
me. That's the ideal medium, of course.

As for the lead actor arranging the play around himself -- sounds like
Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre, yes?

Brandon

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