2002

Criticism, Authority and Simon Russell Beale

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0101  Thursday, 17 January 2002

From:           Charles Weinstein <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 16 Jan 2002 19:03:50 -0500
Subject:        Criticism, Authority and Simon Russell Beale

1. A negative review is a satirical attack on bad art.  Those who think
that satire should never be savage had better re-read Catullus, Martial,
Juvenal, Dryden, Swift, Pope, Byron et al.  If those examples strike
them as too lofty or remote, they need only look at Forbidden Broadway
and Saturday Night Live.

2. As Mike Jensen has so eloquently written, "criticism is not a
democratic process."   The victory belongs to those with superior
knowledge, education, experience and insight.  We may justly look to
such spirits as examples and guides.  That is why I quoted John Simon
and Robert Brustein, the most learned, rigorous and insightful drama
critics in America.  They are also the most experienced--for example,
Brustein is Artistic Director at the A.R.T. where Thomas Derrah is
currently playing Iago.

3. It seems that Brian Willis and I both have "preconceived" or optimal
notions of what Hamlet should be like.  We both believe that he should
be "powerful, intelligent, funny, tragic and charismatic."
Unfortunately, Beale was none of those things.  Moreover, it is not the
case that Simon's, Brustein's or my review focussed exclusively on
Beale's face and physique, deplorable as those were.  On the contrary,
Simon wrote of Beale's wretched verse-speaking, squealing voice and
charmless personality.  Brustein discussed Beale's middle-class or
suburban aura, his tiresome and unvarying air of snide disdain, his lack
of sexual chemistry with Ophelia.  My own review cited many of the same
defects while focussing on Beale's gray monotony, his sluggish mind and
spirit, his failure to be moving or even interesting.  Mr. Willis is
free to deem these murky qualities "luminous." I believe that Simon,
Brustein and I have reached a more accurate assessment.  Thanks to Simon
and Brustein's imprimatur, it is an assessment which no honest theater
historian can ignore or misrepresent.

--Charles Weinstein

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Doyle's Prose

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0100  Thursday, 17 January 2002

From:           John Velz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 16 Jan 2002 14:31:07 -0600
Subject:        Doyle's Prose

In re: 13.0093:

Don Bloom effectively puts *The White Company* (at least in this sudden
stab context) down as second rate.  It is worth remembering that Doyle
said once that of all he wrote *The White Company* and *Sir Nigel* were
"The most complete, satisfying and ambitious thing that I have ever
done."

Yours for good prose,
John

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Re: Ancient Iago

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0098  Thursday, 17 January 2002

[1]     From:   David Evett <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 16 Jan 2002 12:49:32 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0090 Re: Ancient Iago

[2]     From:   Mary Jane Miller <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 16 Jan 2002 14:30:54 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0090 Re: Ancient Iago

[3]     From:   Clifford Stetner <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 17 Jan 2002 03:53:58 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0090 Re: Ancient Iago


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 16 Jan 2002 12:49:32 -0500
Subject: 13.0090 Re: Ancient Iago
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0090 Re: Ancient Iago

Iago's social status is blurred by the Venetian setting; it is always
difficult to align the mercantile societies of the Italian city-states
with the land-based English system.  But it seems to me that most of the
signs indicate that he's a gentleman.  He associates as comfortably (and
in remarkably similar ways) with Roderigo as Sir Toby does with Sir
Andrew, speaks well, can aspire to relatively high military rank.  His
wife is deemed a suitable lady-in-waiting for the high-born Desdemona,
and speaks familiarly (as does Iago) of elevated Venetian society.  Then
as later, the army was a way for younger sons to make an independent
life.  The other character most like Iago, of course, is Edmund-gently
born, in a sense, and gently educated, but precluded by the accident of
birth-order from the kind of comfortable security offered to his
brother.

David Evett

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mary Jane Miller <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 16 Jan 2002 14:30:54 -0500
Subject: 13.0090 Re: Ancient Iago
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0090 Re: Ancient Iago

Don Bloom says,

"Iago has always struck me as having -- his insanity aside -- a classic
senior non-com mentality. Moreover, his dissatisfaction with his rank
was further evidence of that insanity. Normally, non-coms do not want to
be officers, nor thought of as gentlemen with all those expectations.
They want considerable power and respect within a limited combat or
administrative group, but the social expectations of officers fill them
with horror."

And that is exactly  the way he is played on the BBC Othello as directed
by Jonathan Miller by ( I think) Bob Hoskins.

Mary Jane

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 17 Jan 2002 03:53:58 -0500
Subject: 13.0090 Re: Ancient Iago
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0090 Re: Ancient Iago

As Sean points out, the use of large ordinance requires mathematics, not
only in engineering, but simply in the calculation of angles of
trajectories on paper when positioning large cannon. Othello's selection
of Cassio is evidence of his superior military wisdom (as his selection
by the Venetian doges over their native sons is therefore of theirs). In
the "ancient" form of warfare the motiveless malignancy of warriors is
an asset. Across the late middle ages and renaissance periods in Europe
this was no longer so, so the literature of the period is filled with
allegories of the replacement of the berserker warrior by the refined
and educated chivalric military commander, just as the anger of Achilles
is identified by Homer as no longer conducive to Greek imperialist
conquest in an earlier analogous process.  But just as Iago's kind is
obsolete because of his disdain for mathematics, Othello's is obsolete
for other reasons, and Lodovico and Cassio emerge as the new model for
the European military  state, which accounts for its successful
repulsion of the Turks, very much in question at the ostensible
historical period of the play.  There's no denying that Iago is a
talented warrior, as we see him effectively bringing down his opponent,
but his talents will not serve the new conditions of the war against the
Turks. That his own passions and ambitions outweigh considerations of
the greater good of the state is one of the qualities that made a
valuable commander in "barbarian" times, but, as with Achilles, it
becomes counterproductive in modern warfare.

My own experience as an enlisted man in the Navy was that the Chiefs,
while holding Ensigns and Lieutenant JG's in contempt, did not consider
themselves officer material and very rarely aspired beyond Warrant
Officer status.

Clifford

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opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
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Re: Pregnant Gertrude

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0099  Thursday, 17 January 2002

From:           Alan Dessen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 16 Jan 2002 14:50:20 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 13.0088 Re: Pregnant Gertrude
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0088 Re: Pregnant Gertrude

I have nothing to add to the discussion of how playgoers will "read" or
react to a visibly pregnant Gertrude.  I am reminded, however, of one of
my favorite theatre anecdotes--with the joke at my expense.  In the
1980s I saw a production of *Henry VIII* in which an actor I much admire
played Cranmer in distinctive white make-up, applied so heavily that it
called attention to itself.  When I queried him after the show, he said
that he had two explanations.  The first was for the general public:
that Cranmer was a scholar who rarely saw the light of day, etc.  The
other explanation was for me alone: that after over twenty years of
playing a wide assortment of roles, in the series of performances that
summer he finally had the opportunity to use up the white make-up he had
accumulated.  What then happens to my instant symbolic interpretation?

Alan Dessen

_______________________________________________________________
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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.

Re: Elizabethan Coins

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0097  Thursday, 17 January 2002

From:           Mike Jensen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 16 Jan 2002 08:11:11 -0800
Subject: 13.0092 Re: Elizabethan Coins
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0092 Re: Elizabethan Coins

Larry Weiss asks,

>Have you considered the possibility that what you have are clipped
>coins?

Yes.  There is enough of a ridge around the edge to suggest they were
not clipped.  Striking coins a bit off center was common.  I guess it
was difficult to hit them "right on the money."

Mike Jensen

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email 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.

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