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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: April ::
Re: Keep Looking
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1043  Tuesday, 16 April 2002

[1]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Monday, 15 Apr 2002 09:11:55 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1012 Re: Keep Looking

[2]     From:   R.A. Cantrell <
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        Date:   Monday, 15 Apr 2002 11:51:39 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1040 Re: Keep Looking


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <
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Date:           Monday, 15 Apr 2002 09:11:55 -0500
Subject: 13.1012 Re: Keep Looking
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1012 Re: Keep Looking

It is, perhaps, unwise to attempt even an oblique defense of the
much-abused Mr. Weinstein, but I don't think all of those who jumped on
him for his snide remark on Pacino and Curtis

(> > Let's not forget Pacino, who speaks Shakespeare in a
> > manner unheard in
> > these parts since Tony Curtis uttered the immortal
> > line "Yonduh lies duh
> > castle of my fadduh duh caliph.")

have thought all the way through the question of the correct (or
not-incorrect) accent for doing Shakespeare.

I am no defender of accent-snobbery, but it is a fact that accents are
intimately associated with social groups -- by nationality, region,
economic class, race and so on. We tend to associate Shakespeare with
England, for reasons too obvious to mention. Thus a Hamlet or Juliet or
Rosalind or Prince Hal speaking Brooklynese (or Jamaican, Strine,
Glaswegian, Texan, or you name it) sounds absurd. We associate those
accents with fairly specific locales that are some distance
(spiritually) from the English upper class that WS was replicating.

Those accents are perfectly correct in other plays, or if you are going
to do a "concept" version where everyone is speaking in various non-U
accents that are coordinated and meaningful. (This can be especially
effective in comedy.) But just out there by themselves they sound dumb,
as Charles said.

The problem is that they call attention to themselves. You start
listening to the accent rather than the words. In comedy this
possibility can be accepted, even desired, as with the delightful
cockney of the gravediggers in the BBC "Hamlet." But in tragedy and in
the more serious side of comedy the losses from an obtrusive accent are
too great to be ignored. The best accent is one that is essentially
transparent.

Cheers,
don

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           R.A. Cantrell <
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Date:           Monday, 15 Apr 2002 11:51:39 -0500
Subject: 13.1040 Re: Keep Looking
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1040 Re: Keep Looking

> OK I'll bite
>
> Does anyone believe that Mr Gibson understood or knew the meanings of
> the words he spoke?

Good points. I'll have to check with MR. B---------'S agent for the
correct form of his professional name. The post was directed to C.
Weinstein specifically, which I thought to accomplish by the
header/reply mechanism.  I certainly would not like to be the sole cause
of your next event. As to the meaning of the words spoken, not many of
us are possessed of a native Elizabethan idiom and must learn it,
usually, as the redoubtable G.  Taylor has put it, "by virtue of the
labors of centuries of annotators." Perhaps you have not availed
yourself of these labors and know the meaning of the words Mel Gibson
spoke intuitively, perhaps not. Most of the actors I have seen do
Shakespeare are not perfect in their understanding, and sometimes this
shows to the detriment of the performance, sometimes not. Often, quite
often, large segments of dialog from the plays have little or no meaning
to those speaking them not to the vast majority of those hearing them
spoken. Do you suggest corporal or capital punishment?  Shall those of
us who just don't care how Kenneth B spells his name and are too lazy to
look it up scape whipping?

All the best,
R.A. Cantrell

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