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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: April ::
Re: Film and Other Adaptations
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0894  Saturday, 1 April 2002

[1]     From:   Sam Small <
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        Date:   Friday, 29 Mar 2002 16:13:32 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0881 Re: Film and Other Adaptations

[2]     From:   Geralyn Horton <
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        Date:   Friday, 29 Mar 2002 13:48:55 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0881 Re: Film and Other Adaptations

[3]     From:   Billy Houck <
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        Date:   Friday, 29 Mar 2002 19:36:14 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0881 Re: Film and Other Adaptations

[4]     From:   Janet Costa <
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        Date:   Friday, 29 Mar 2002 17:44:57 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0881 Re: Film and Other Adaptations


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sam Small <
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Date:           Friday, 29 Mar 2002 16:13:32 -0000
Subject: 13.0881 Re: Film and Other Adaptations
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0881 Re: Film and Other Adaptations

Brian Willis wrote:  War and basketball both have absurd importance to
our societies. It seems that increasingly nations and boys have little
practical gain from winning a war or a game except to wipe out or defeat
your enemy and inflate your own ego.

All sports are a load of old "Capulet and Montague", if you ask me.  The
very notion of sports competition is to degrade the opposition - not to
forgive them.  And forgiveness will save the world, if nothing else
does.  The opening scene from R&J could be any football hooligans from
the English scene, Jew/Arab, Irish/British etc etc.  As Dylan (Bob) said
"When will they ever learn?"  In my view, it wouldn't be extreme to
suggest that sportsmen (and women) encourage the warlike, unforgiving
mindset that enable young girls to blow themselves up in crowded
supermarkets.

SAM SMALL

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Geralyn Horton <
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Date:           Friday, 29 Mar 2002 13:48:55 -0500
Subject: 13.0881 Re: Film and Other Adaptations
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0881 Re: Film and Other Adaptations

> Edward Albee does not let anyone perform his
> plays. He rarely allows productions off-Broadway to be staged so that
> "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" has been performed under 10 times
> EVER. He doesn't want amateurs or merely competent companies to ruin its
> reputation. No high schools, no amateurs.

You are mistaken about the degree of denial of the rights to WAVW.
There have been at least 4 amateur or small-scale professional
productions of this script in Boston in the last 3 years.  Albee does
have a reputation for strictness: you must produce the script as
written: no unauthorized cuts or changes, no setting it on Mars or
casting men as Martha or Honey-- but WAVW? is produced frequently, at
various levels.  My daughter performed Martha in it at her high school,
and I've acted in a community theatre production of it myself.

OTOH, the holders of the professional rights to such plays are jealous
of "competition" when a first class production is to take place in a
major venue, and contract to withdraw the rights from all other would-be
producers until that Broadway or LORT production has closed.  (I don't
know if anyone has ever tested the legality of this in court) IMHO, this
is a foolish business practice, as well as a failure of artistic
conscience. Theatre audiences would not skip seeing Glenn Close because
they saw Aunt Tillie last week in a church basement.  We who love the
theatre love such opportunities for comparison.  A bad production of a
good play whets the appetite for a good one, and a good one wakes dreams
of a great.

> My friend tried to purchase
> the rights for his dream production and was denied outright.

Geralyn Horton
http://www.stagepage.org

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[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Billy Houck <
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Date:           Friday, 29 Mar 2002 19:36:14 EST
Subject: 13.0881 Re: Film and Other Adaptations
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0881 Re: Film and Other Adaptations

Brian Willis writes:

<< "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" has been performed under 10 times
EVER. He doesn't want amateurs or merely competent companies to ruin its
reputation. No high schools, no amateurs.  >>

Am I misunderstanding you here?

I have seen MANY college and amateur productions of Virginia Woolf. I
even saw a high school production of it once. These were not pirate
productions.  The amateur rights are readily available from Dramatists
Play Service.  I think what you may be thinking of is Albee's famous
control over professional productions. He is widely rumored to have shut
down productions that in any slight way veered from the original text or
his concept of the play.

Billy Houck

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Janet Costa <
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Date:           Friday, 29 Mar 2002 17:44:57 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 13.0881 Re: Film and Other Adaptations
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0881 Re: Film and Other Adaptations

Dana Shilling: ' Well, the Capulets aren't short of a bob or two, if
they can have a posh party, and if Count Paris is a cousin, they can't
be the Jukes and the Kallikaks either. The households are "alike" in
dignity, and the family members are of a status to carry swords'.

Yup, it's the definition of 'dignity'. My comments obviously implied
that 'dignity' could equal financial and socio-political power. And in
'traditional' presentations, this definition is certainly bourne out.
The colour coding of red and blue is one of the more visual
manifestations of this traditionalism that suggests that the audience
needs to be guided through the play. I can see that. There are certainly
times when a rose is a rose is a rose.

But the Capulets COULD be short a bob or two and still have a posh party
(creative financing or business expense?). I can see the 'old accustomed
feast' as possibly a potluck supper or a backyard barbecue, or, as I
have once witnessed, the County Paris could have fallen on hard times as
the Romanoffs had done, in a Verona that may be suffering from a
depression or recession. And I think that despite these conditions, for
'men so old as' they, their dignity could survive, if their 'dignity' is
defined as a strong code of moral behaviour, which the play does
textually support.

Dignity may not be a flexible commodity such as the accoutrements of
wealth, and that may be an important enough point of the play for a
director to underline it in his interpretation. This emphasis is
especially evident and significant in film where the camera mediates
seeing.  'Shakespeare in Love' creatively exploited metatheatricality to
emphasize that 'these our actors' were just that, actors, poor,
struggling actors, neither hand nor foot nor Montague nor Capulet. What
they brought to life were the characters of the play, who only have
personalities and life when their dialogue is delivered through the
actor. These characters have lived the same five days over and over
again for 400 years (talk about 'Groundhog Day'!).

I think that the important thing is not to label directorial choices and
interpretations as 'bad' Shakespeare. They may result in a 'bad' film,
or at the very least, one that is questionable in taste. Some one may
(and many have) love a film I loathe. But for all that, it is still the
subjective reaction to the director's choices that often causes hastily
and wildly applied labels to survive. As my acting teacher taught me
many moons ago when I begged to leave the theatre after Act One, there
is still something to learn even in a 'bad' performance - perhaps even
more.

Janet

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