2002

Re: The Laws of Theatre

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.07392  Wednesday, 13 March 2002

[1]     From:   W.L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 12 Mar 2002 16:22:33 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.07370 Re: The Laws of Theatre

[2]     From:   Michael E. Cohen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 12 Mar 2002 19:31:46 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.07370 Re: The Laws of Theatre


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W.L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 12 Mar 2002 16:22:33 -0500
Subject: 13.07370 Re: The Laws of Theatre
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.07370 Re: The Laws of Theatre

R.A. Cantrell writes:

>A member of the audience may have invested in the anticipation of a good
>performance, but his or her judgement sits disinterested till after the
>fact.

Ah, if this were only true of the Supreme Court of the United States.
I'm sure Stanley Fish would say nonsense and point out that I simply
want the justices to have a different bias than they do.

But perhaps our definitions of "disinterest" are different. I define
"disinterest" as "free of all bias," which I take to be an impossible
ideal for humans. To be free of bias is to lack a point of view. I
assume that all spectators, each and every one of them, see the play
from a slightly different place physically and mentally. I don't arrive
at the theatre without my body or all that strange baggage in my brain
that skews my judgment.

Yours, Bill Godshalk

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael E. Cohen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 12 Mar 2002 19:31:46 -0800
Subject: 13.07370 Re: The Laws of Theatre
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.07370 Re: The Laws of Theatre

Sam Small wrote:

> I know it's cinema but my favourite acting quote is from James Cagney.
> "Learn your lines and say them like you mean it."  I actually think that
> is all you need to know about acting.

Well, there is the small matter of what you do when you're on-stage and
NOT speaking....

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Re: Almost Damn'd

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.07391  Wednesday, 13 March 2002

[1]     From:   W.L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 12 Mar 2002 13:42:44 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.07380 Re: Almost Damn'd

[2]     From:   David Bishop <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 12 Mar 2002 16:02:45 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.07380 Re: Almost Damn'd


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W.L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 12 Mar 2002 13:42:44 -0500
Subject: 13.07380 Re: Almost Damn'd
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.07380 Re: Almost Damn'd

Steve Sohmer: "when Cassio says Iago is a Florentine we believe him
(3.1.39)." Cassio says regarding Iago: "I never knew a Florentine more
kind and honest." One of my students recently suggested that Cassio
means, "I never knew one of my own city to be more kind and honest than
Iago." In this reading, Cassio is the Florentine as per 1.1.20, and Iago
is the outsider (could our James be Spanish?) who is just as kind and
honest as any Florentine.

This leaves us with that pesky phrase "A Verennessa, Michael Cassio"
(Folio 2.1.26). Some suggest that Verennessa is a type of ship: "The
ship is here put in, / A Veronesa" (Riverside). Some suggest that the
ship Cassio is sailing has been borrowed from Verona. Or, of course,
Cassio could be from Verona, or the Third Gentleman could be wrong in
his identification of Cassio as Veronese -- another of the play's many
misidentifications.

Steve would have us question Iago's identification of Cassio as a
Florentine, and, indeed, all Iago's unsupported assertions should be
questioned.

Yours, Bill Godshalk

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Bishop <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 12 Mar 2002 16:02:45 -0500
Subject: 13.07380 Re: Almost Damn'd
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.07380 Re: Almost Damn'd

I can't agree with Dana Shilling and Steve Sohmer, among others, about
Cassio. For one thing, I think it's clear from the play that Cassio is a
Florentine. When he says of Iago, "I never knew/A Florentine more kind
and honest" he is not saying that Iago is a Florentine. He is saying
that Iago is as good as the best of Cassio's own countrymen.

Iago mentions that Cassio is a Florentine partly to contrast himself
with those effeminate Florentines. Cassio is "almost damn'd in a fair
wife" because his appearance, manners and character are, in Iago's view,
so feminine as to be damned in a real man. In other words, Iago is
saying, he's a damned fairy. He's so effeminate he'd be almost damned,
in this sense, if he were an actual woman: a fair wife. Even a fair wife
might be damned for being so effeminate. Of course we don't have to--and
don't--take Iago's word for this. The fact that Cassio is a Florentine,
on the other hand, is never contradicted.

Florence has a reputation both for high civilization (one reason Othello
appoints Cassio: he aspires to something higher) and for decadence. They
go together. This is why Cassio has entrappable manners like kissing his
fingers, and kissing women in genteel greeting. His "bookish theoric"
makes him, to Iago, like a fair wife and also a spinster. In this play
an ideal, or a stereotype, of simple "honest" manliness runs up against
a counterimage of "supersubtle"--and feminized--urbanity.

The "Veronessa" is a ship of that type--a specificity that lends weight
to the report. I think that's the point of the word. It would not have a
point if applied here to Cassio. That he's a Florentine does have a
point--multiple points--in the play.

Best wishes,
David Bishop

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Early-modern detective story?

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.07389  Wednesday, 13 March 2002

From:           Martin Steward <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 12 Mar 2002 17:37:51 -0000
Subject:        Early-modern detective story?

Mike Jensen asks, with reference to a recent strand about the origins of
the detective story: "Do you really think a plot cannot have an aspect
where a character wonders who committed a killing without putting the
plot in the detective/mystery genre?  Are writers so vulnerable to later
interpretations that this claim is fair?  Aside from that, what do these
plays really have in common with Agatha Christie or Dashiell Hammett?
I'll answer my own question: virtually nothing". Indeed. The detective
story plot actually has nothing to do with death or murder as such, and
more to do with mystery, and with privileged perspectives on the story
being sealed off from the audience.

So here's my candidate: Beaumont and Fletcher's "A king and No King"
(1611).  This play's dramaturgy seems to signal a notable departure from
the usual conventions of plotting and dramatic irony, even as they had
been expanded in Shakespeare's Romances. In A King and No King,
characters engage in dialogue which is informed by the subtext of their
"really-lived" histories, whose wider relevance is withheld from the
audience until the catastrophe.  This has nothing to do with dramatic
irony as conventionally understood - it can only make sense to the
audience after they have seen the last scenes of the play and are
familiar with the really-lived histories of the characters.

Whereas Cymbeline (e.g.) privileges its audience with an omniscient
perspective from the start, A King and No King gives that privilege to a
pair of characters within the play itself - Queen Arane and Gobrius.
Remarkably, they are assumed to exist independently of the drama that
gives them life, and the audience which eavesdrops on that life. So,
when Arane is punished for her attempted assassination of King Arbaces,
Gobrius mercilessly condemns her "that she should stretch her arm /
Against her king", and "think the death / Of her own son"; one would
expect Arane's reply, "Thou know'st the reason why, / Dissembling as
thou art, and wilt not speak", to refer to some terrible secret shared
by the audience. But their secret has never been revealed to the
audience, and at this point the truth is not readily reconcilable with
the characters' words or actions - it is effectively unimaginable. The
couple's cryptic exchange later in the same scene, despite their being
alone onstage, still only hints at this truth.  "Nay, should I join with
you" in killing Arbaces, Gobrius says, "Should we not both be torn? And
yet both die / Uncredited?" It is unclear how the apparently loyal
Gobrius can sympathize with this traitorous woman whom he has just
attacked so bitterly. "I do but right in saving of the king / From all
your plots", he insists, to which Arane responds, strangely, "The king?"
Again, it is not clear why their should be any doubt concerning Arbaces
right to be King, as nobody else in the play raises the issue.

To add to the mystery, Gobrius then assures Arane, that "With
patience... a time would come for me / To reconcile all to your own
content", which seems to promise a removal of Arbaces from the throne;
furthermore, Arane's rash actions are said to "take away my power",
forcing Gobrius to "preserve mine own". Only the playgoer blessed with
astonishing foresight (and perhaps only the twentieth-century mind
conditioned by Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, and the cinematic device of
the "flashback") could deduce from this what is revealed in the last
scene of the play - that Gobrius is the father of Arbaces, and Arbaces
is King by deception (and therefore treason) with Arane. Even Arane's
lament, "Accursed be this over-curious brain / That gave that plot a
birth; accurst this womb / That after did conceive to my disgrace" -
does little more than tease us with the possibility (II.i.8-14, 47-62).
In the context of the early seventeenth-century stage, this is
mind-bending stuff: a brilliant marketing ploy which must almost have
forced the play's audience back to enjoy a second look at the action
from an enlightened perspective, but which also attempted to justify the
most radical questioning of the nature of Kingship by disguising those
questions as harmless experimental dramaturgy.

m

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Re: Shakespeare Journals

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.07390  Wednesday, 13 March 2002

[1]     From:   Edmund Taft <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 12 Mar 2002 12:55:25 -0500
        Subj:   Shakespeare Journals

[2]     From:   Robert C. Evans <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 12 Mar 2002 13:58:39 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.07367 Shakespeare Journals

[3]     From:   John V Robinson <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 12 Mar 2002 17:18:54 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.07367 Shakespeare Journals


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 12 Mar 2002 12:55:25 -0500
Subject:        Shakespeare Journals

Thomas Larque states,

"I am already a reviewer for the "Shakespeare Bulletin" and a
contributor to "A Groat's Worth of Wit", but am hoping to find more
outlets for my writing on Shakespeare."

You might consider sending a review of a book or a production to
_SRASP_: _Shakespeare and Renaissance Association of West Virginia:
Selected Papers_, a juried, refereed annual that prints the best revised
papers from the previous year's West Virginia Shakespeare Conference.
The journal will, however, consider reviews from the outside.

If you are interested, Tom, you can email the editor at
<This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>.

--Ed Taft

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robert C. Evans <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 12 Mar 2002 13:58:39 EST
Subject: 13.07367 Shakespeare Journals
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.07367 Shakespeare Journals

>Does anybody know of any reasonably cheap print Journals dealing
>principally with Shakespeare, Renaissance Drama or Renaissance
>Literature other than "Shakespeare Bulletin", "Shakespeare Quarterly",
>"Upstart Crow", "Shakespeare Newsletter", "A Groat's Worth of Wit" and
>"Shakespeare Magazine"?  By reasonably cheap I mean anything under about
>40 pounds or 60 dollars a year.

May I (ahem) put in a word for the _Ben Jonson Journal_, which publishes
pieces not only on Ben but also on Shakespeare and on many other aspects
of Renaissance culture?  The price per volume ($25) is very reasonable,
especially considering that recent volumes have been running close to,
or sometimes well over, 400 pages.  (Volume 7, which contains a special
on Catholicism, runs to close to 700 pages).  Volume 8 is now out, and
volume 9 should be out by fall.  More information is available at
www.benjonsonjournal.com (please forgive the annoying pop-ups).

With best wishes -- Bob Evans (and, I confess, one of the editors of
BJJ)

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John V Robinson <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 12 Mar 2002 17:18:54 EST
Subject: 13.07367 Shakespeare Journals
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.07367 Shakespeare Journals

>I am already a reviewer for the "Shakespeare Bulletin" and a contributor
>to "A Groat's Worth of Wit", but am hoping to find more outlets for my
>writing on Shakespeare.
>
>     Thomas Larque.
>     "Shakespeare and His Critics"
>     http://shakespearean.org.uk

Most journals will publish your stuff if it's good enough. Try Note and
Queries, ANQ, Explicator, Hamlet Studies, or English Language Notes. I'm
sure other members will have more suggestions.

_______________________________________________________________
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Re: Machiavelli

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.07388  Wednesday, 13 March 2002

[1]     From:   Don Bloom <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 12 Mar 2002 11:00:20 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0733 Re: Machiavelli

[2]     From:   Clifford Stetner <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 12 Mar 2002 13:01:38 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.07373 Re: Fishy

[3]     From:   Bill Arnold <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 12 Mar 2002 10:02:09 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.07382 Re: Machiavelli


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 12 Mar 2002 11:00:20 -0600
Subject: 13.0733 Re: Machiavelli
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0733 Re: Machiavelli

I refuse to rise to the bait any longer.

Now if Martin Steward had written, "Sounds Fishy to me," at the outset,
I would have known exactly what he meant.

Cheers,
don

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 12 Mar 2002 13:01:38 -0500
Subject: 13.07373 Re: Fishy
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.07373 Re: Fishy

> Now my experiment: I sat under a tree today. Describe the tree.
>
> Yours, Bill Godshalk

Unfair, unfair! We all "sat" "under" a "tree" today, several in fact.
There is the genealogical tree from which each of us derives. There is
Ygdrassil the World Tree of which we similarly all are fruit. There is
the protective shade of our national Constitutions grown from the roots
of centuries of political struggle. There is the rood tree on which our
saviour was ignominiously sacrificed. I have renditions of trees by both
Monet and Van Gogh hanging above chairs in my living room. An accurate
description of one of the trees under which I now sit is an inaccurate
description of the others. Any answer to the question as you pose it
must therefore be wrong.

Clifford

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 12 Mar 2002 10:02:09 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 13.07382 Re: Machiavelli
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.07382 Re: Machiavelli


Clifford Stetner quotes me, then writes, "'I even suggested they might
see Marlowe's ghost in the ghost of Hamlet's father, and thus have to
digest mentally if the ghost which opened _Hamlet_ was a "Machiavellian"
ghost?  Maybe Hamlet's father's ghost was the ghost of  the dead Marlowe
in Shakespeare's mind...'  Some time back I suggested to an
unenthusiastic response that the name Horatio would evoke Kyd who had
just died from illness sustained from the Tower rack and who is credited
on thin evidence with the alleged 'Ur-Hamlet.'"

Loving the English histrionics for melodrama, I want to play a member of
the lower house and cry, "Hear, Hear!!"

Let me just say, that the history of late Elizabethan London, with all
the plots to overthrow the Queen, the Tower stories, the tortures, the
live quarterings, the disembowelings, et al., must have made Shakespeare
cringe to think he was so close to royalty and a maker of plays.  So, I
am even surprised that he was brave enough to do _Hamlet_ with a Danish
setting in that horrific climate.  I'm surprised he didn't place the
setting in _China!_  I do _not_ think that Shakespearean scholars have
given enough credit to Shakespeare the _man_ in all this.  I am _not_
enough of a student of Shakespeare to really back up _your_ suggestion.
But I do believe that if the history of London is looked upon as the
metaphor for the background of _Hamlet_, perhaps you will be found to
have stumbled upon more of the truth than supposed.  Do _not_ forget
that the Earl of Essex, Robert Devereux, was house imprisoned by the
Queen over rumors by him and his cohorts, on numerous occasions, and
according to Robert Lacey in _Robert, Earl of Essex_, in order to save
his own skin this same favourite of the Queen had her finally convinced
to disembowel her own personal physician on the rumor he'd tried to
poison his own patient, HRH the Queen herself.  Thus, all the _poison_
and _rumors_ in _Hamlet_ by the participants, including the ghost of
Hamlet-s father, for me, recalls the horrific _real_ events leading up
to the drafting of the script by Shakespeare which eventually became
_Hamlet_ of 1600.  In fact, the play should be subtitled, _Poisons and
Rumors_.

Bill Arnold

_______________________________________________________________
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.
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DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
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