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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: May ::
Re: Conspicuous Silence
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1444  Tuesday, 28 May 2002

From:           Clifford Stetner <
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Date:           Monday, 27 May 2002 16:21:40 -0400
Subject: 13.1401 Re: Conspicuous Silence
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1401 Re: Conspicuous Silence

> Though it has some
> explanatory power, such an argument begs questions: why write an ending
> that silences a(n apparently) major character to give the stage to a(n
> apparently) minor figure? what does such a decision reveal about the
> play, the theater, the audience, the company? what are performers to do
> with this silent elephant?  Is anyone aware of performance studies that
> address this issue?
>
> Regards,
> Christopher Fassler
> University of Uta

"--if I do not know something, Cavell says, that implies a blank spot of
ignorance; there's something missing in the body of my knowledge. But if
I fail or refuse to acknowledge something, the point is that almost the
opposite situation pertains: "A 'failure to acknowledge' is the presence
of something, a confusion, an indifference, a callousness, an
exhaustion, a coldness." Cavell most powerfully aligns this second
failure, this acknowledgment-gap, when (like Berger) he shows that, in
Lear and elsewhere, characters refuse or fail to reveal themselves to
others, and in that masking gesture fail to 'acknowledge others.'"

however:

"This emphasis on discourse involves a problematic notion of
Shakespearean drama in general, which it is Berger's purpose to develop
in the light of his apparent distaste for performance-centered
criticism, and against which he counterposes a strongly text-centered
criticism."

From Angus Fletcher's review of `Making Trifles of Terrors:
Redistributing Complicities in Shakespeare,' by Harry Berger, Jr.
Shakespeare Studies, 1999, Vol. 27, p37, 5p

For more performance based commentary:

Kermode, Frank. "Shakespeare's Silences." Takada, Surprised by Scenes
[F]: 16-26. [Considers the proverbial background and dramaturgical and
rhetorical uses of silence in Shakespeare's plays.]

Clifford Stetner

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