2002

If Beowulf is dead,

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1459  Wednesday, 29 May 2002

From:           Al Magary <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 28 May 2002 12:29:35 -0700
Subject:        If Beowulf is dead, can Chaucer and Shakespeare be far behind?

The AnSax list, being full of defenders of Old English, is affronted by
a weekend article "Blazing canon" by the versatile
poet-professor-journalist James Fenton, in the Guardian
(http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4420589,00.html).
This is in turn an extract from his new book, An Introduction to English
Poetry (in the UK, pub. by Viking this Thurs.; in the US, to be pub. by
FSG in Nov.).  I quote an extract from the article here because he has a
view of Shakespeare in text and performance, and an opinion on the
famous Leo + Claire film that some on this list will find disagreeable.
The extract follows.

-------------
Let us say that we have about five centuries of English poetry behind
us.  This poetry did not emerge out of nowhere, but the fact is that
beyond those five centuries it becomes increasingly difficult to
comprehend. It is true that to understand Shakespeare (1564-1616) in
detail, we need the help of notes, and it has been true at certain times
in the past that readers have found large parts of Shakespeare
incomprehensible or barbaric. The current assumption that all the plays
are in principle both performable and worth performing is comparatively
new.

But the really striking thing about, say, Baz Luhrmann's 1996 film Romeo
+ Juliet, is the effectiveness with which the poetry communicates, and
does so when delivered at great speed. Leonardo DiCaprio did not slow
down in order to get a complex point across. He simply made sure that he
understood the point and assumed that his understanding would be enough
to carry the audience with him. This is what any actor has to do. When
we study Shakespeare on the page, for academic purposes, we may require
all kinds of help. Generally, we read him in modern spelling and with
modern punctuation, and with notes. But any poetry that is
performed--from song lyric to tragic speech--must make its point, as it
were, without reference back. We can't, as an audience, ask the actors
to repeat themselves, or slow down, or share their notes with us. We
must grasp the meaning--or enough of it--in real time. That Hamlet still
works after 400 years is an extraordinary linguistic and poetic fact.

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Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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Re: Macbeth Discussion

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1458  Wednesday, 29 May 2002

[1]     From:   Jan Pick <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 28 May 2002 20:26:53 +0100
        Subj:   Re: Macbeth Discussion -- Directorial Interpretations

[2]     From:   Brian Willis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 28 May 2002 10:02:11 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: Macbeth Discussion -- Directorial Interpretations

[3]     From:   Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, May 29, 2002
        Subj:   Re: Macbeth Discussion -- Directorial Interpretations


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, May 29, 2002
Subject:        Re: Macbeth Discussion -- Directorial Interpretations

Further suggestions about directorial choices in Macbeth should be sent
directly to Alan J. Sanders at <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Willis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 28 May 2002 10:02:11 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 13.1429 Re: Macbeth Discussion -- Directorial
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1429 Re: Macbeth Discussion -- Directorial
Interpretations

>I've often thought that "Macbeth" would be great
>staged in a Wall Street
>corporate office. You know, Duncan is the CEO,
>Macbeth a VP, and LM a
>social climber.

Branagh has been considering just this setting for the play on film for
some time. Whether it comes to fruition is still to be seen...

Brian Willis

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jan Pick <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 28 May 2002 20:26:53 +0100
Subject: 13.1429 Re: Macbeth Discussion -- Directorial
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1429 Re: Macbeth Discussion -- Directorial
Interpretations

'Macbeth' is one of the most difficult plays to stage - mostly because
it is so deceptively straighforward!  As a veteran of many, I'm bored to
tears with the 'modern relevant' touch.  This is a play about deep
superstitions and beliefs - Orson Welles Voodoo Macbeth was said to be
stunning - set in a society that still believed in the supernatural -
don't try to excuse the weird sisters as many productions do, or reduce
them to silly old women, the 'witches' are the real key to a successful
'Macbeth'.  Actually, now the 'Macbeth' I really want to see is the
Irving 1880s, with 100s of witches - Shakespeare meets Lloyd Webber, but
I don't suppose I ever will!

Jan

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Re: Unmoored

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1456  Wednesday, 29 May 2002

From:           Tim Perfect <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 28 May 2002 09:08:14 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 13.1445 Unmoored
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1445 Unmoored

>Sinister mood-music sounded during Iago's soliloquies, vainly seeking to
>impart the emotional coloration which the actor himself was unable to
>provide.

Perhaps I'm wrong, but were not Shakespeare's plays "underscored" in the
same manner by musicians up in the "heavens" at the Globe and other such
theatres?

Tim Perfect

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R and J in Disney's Proud Family

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1457  Wednesday, 29 May 2002

From:           Richard Burt <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, May 28, 2002 10:56 AM
Subject:        R and J in Disney's Proud Family

An episode of The Proud Family (a Disney animated sit-com about an
African American family) airing Friday, May 24, 2002 from 7-7:30 EST
involved extensive quotations from Romeo and Juliet. It's called "Romeo
Must Wed." The episode was about Jenny's (the daughter) romance with a
Chinese immigrant son named Wong. Their romance blossoms as they play
Romeo and Juliet in the school production, but Wong's family has
arranged a marriage for him. Romeo Must Die is mentioned. Jenny decides
not to play Juliet, but her Aunt, an actress, encourages her to do it,
and so she does. We first see a black character doing the Prologue and
then, after Jenny sows, the balcony scene. (Jenny's presence means that
an Hispanic girl named La Cienaga does not get to play Juliet as she had
hoped.) Wong breaks out of his role to tell Jenny that he and the woman
he was supposed to marry hated each other and that he loves Jenny. She
smiles and says "Really?" and jumps off the balcony into his arms. The
audience looks baffled. After a commercial break, the play continues in
the death scene and Jenny raps (with music on the soundtrack) her final
speech before killing herself with the dagger. This is a rehearsal and
the teacher approves by saying, as had a black character earlier,
"Brave-o. Brave-o."

Episode at

http://disney.go.com/disneychannel/ProgramGuide/zap/shows/proud.html

The show website is at

http://disney.go.com/disneychannel/zoogdisney/shows/proudfamily/index_main.html

_______________________________________________________________
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 Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

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.

Editing Henry VI for Performance

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1454  Wednesday, 29 May 2002

From:           Janet OKeefe <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           28 May 2002 09:00:57 -0700
Subject:        Editing Henry VI for Performance

There was a question a week or so back about editing the three Henry VI
plays down to two for performance.  I thought this article from the
Detroit News on the editing of the current Stratford Festival production
might be of interest.  I am typing this in myself because the site won't
allow me to cut and paste.  If you want to read the original, here is
the URL: http://detnews.com/2002/entertainment/0205/25/d02-498799.htm

Janet T. O'Keefe

Special 2-part production combines 3 'Henry VI' plays by Lawrence B.
Johnson / The Detroit News

One of the most intriguing ventures of the Stratford Festival's golden
anniversary season is a two-part consolidation of Shakespeare's three
plays about the tumultuous and bloody times of England's Henry VI.

Full-length stagings of Henry VI, Parts 1, 2 and 3, generally believed
to be the Bard's earliest work, are rare.  Area Shakespeare buffs
enjoyed the complete cycle when England's Royal Shakespeare Company
visited Ann Arbor under the auspices of the University Musical Society
in March 2001.
Stratford, which has not mounted more than a foreshortening of all three
plays into a single production, commissioned British director Leon Rubin
to create the two-part distillation, renamed Henry VI:  Revenge in
France and Henry VI: Revolt in England.  Shakespeare exercised
considerable dramatic freedom with history: reversals England suffered
in France in the mid-15th century and with ensuing political upheaval in
England toward the century's close.
But Rubin, who also directs the Stratford staging, says that aside from
deleting a few marginal characters and lopping some nonessential scenes,
his own objective was to preserve Shakespeare's core concept and his
language.

"The original plays include a number of what I call red-herring plots,
which go nowhere," Rubin says from Stratford.  "And a few characters,
including Falstaff, make brief appearances, but are not satisfactorily
developed.

"Other cuts also actually helped to clarify the action for modern
audiences.  Multiple battles at different places have been combined into
a single battle.  And there are a few death speeches and declaration
speeches - - about honor, for example - - as well as elaborate details
of family relationships that can be quite happily lost."

Rubin, a veteran of the Royal Shakespeare Company, says an educated
Henry VI serves both Shakespeare and today's audiences.

"The plays are uneven," he says, "and this gives us the opportunity to
focus on writing of very high quality."

_______________________________________________________________
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 Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

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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