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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: December ::
Re: Cordelia and Listening to the Play
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.2448  Friday, 20 December 2002

[1]     From:   C. David Frankel <
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        Date:   Thursday, 19 Dec 2002 09:27:48 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 13.2439 Re: Cordelia and Listening to the Play

[2]     From:   Martin Steward <
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        Date:   Thursday, 19 Dec 2002 14:42:06 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2439 Re: Cordelia and Listening to the Play

[3]     From:   W.L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Thursday, 19 Dec 2002 15:39:52 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2439 Re: Cordelia and Listening to the Play

[4]     From:   W.L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Thursday, 19 Dec 2002 15:59:48 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2430 Re: Cordelia and Listening to the Play

[5]     From:   Anna Kamaralli <
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        Date:   Friday, 20 Dec 2002 17:02:00 +1100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.2412 Re: Cordelia and Listening to the Play


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           C. David Frankel <
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Date:           Thursday, 19 Dec 2002 09:27:48 -0500
Subject: 13.2439 Re: Cordelia and Listening to the Play
Comment:        RE: SHK 13.2439 Re: Cordelia and Listening to the Play

In talking about scripts to undergraduates, I make a distinction among
what I call the fictive world, the dramaturgical world, and the
theatrical world (of course, borrowing heavily from many sources).

This distinction allows us to talk about the fictive world, including
the characters, as if they were "real" -- for most students, and for
many playgoers, the fictive world attracts the most immediate attention
and understanding.

In talking about the dramaturgical world, the focus shifts to how the
playwright constructs the play, including the particular ways he or she
presents the fictive world.  So, discussions of character explore their
function in the play -- from the simplest (this character in this scene
functions as a confidant, this character functions to give information
to the audience) to the more complex -- how do prevailing conventions of
representation (during the playwright's time) contribute to the play.
The dramaturgical, of course, also focuses on issues of structure (why
is this scene here instead of elsewhere?  why is it in the play at
all?), language (what kind of words does the playwright give this
character?), and so on.  One of the important points made here is that
all the lines of a play are ultimately addressed to the audience.  I
also include in the dramaturgical the theatrical conventions (as best
they can be determined) of the playwright's times, a kind of virtual
theatrical world.

The theatrical world, then manifests in performance.  Every performance
creates its own theatrical world, and we can look at specific
performances, discuss the choices made, and talk about how those choices
relate to the fictive and dramaturgical worlds.  A part of this
discussion would also be how the dramaturgical and fictive worlds are
experienced through performance.

All of this, I'm sure, is fairly elementary, but it does allow
undergraduate students with little or no experience reading or seeing
plays to get a sense of the multiple ways of listening to a play.
Generally, I will also suggest that looking at the relationship between
the fictive and the dramaturgical worlds brings the rhetoric of the play
into focus -- that is, not rhetoric used *in* the play (that is
discussed in both the fictive and the dramaturgical worlds, for
different reasons), but the rhetoric *of* the play -- and I use rhetoric
here broadly, following Kenneth Burke.

In conclusion, I don't think you can listen to the play without
listening to the characters as if they were real people.  But I don't
think you can listen to a play without understanding that the characters
are constructs who say and do what the playwright wants them to say and
do -- and that they exist (on the page) enmeshed in a large net of
conventions and dramaturgical needs.  Finally, the play in performance
(and what is any individual reading except a virtual performance) brings
its own rhetorical devices to bear and what it says will change, to
greater and lesser degrees, depending on how it manifests the fictive
and dramaturgical worlds (and, of course, on the nature of the audience
-- but that's a different discussion).

cdf

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <
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Date:           Thursday, 19 Dec 2002 14:42:06 -0000
Subject: 13.2439 Re: Cordelia and Listening to the Play
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.2439 Re: Cordelia and Listening to the Play

Carol Barton wrote:

"A king's legitimate love for his people and his country causes him to
behave like a benevolent father; a king's perception that he is God, or
near-God, in that he can order people to love him in the manner in which
he demands that love, and apportion property he does not own to the
detriment of the people who do own it, is abusive . . ."

Well, yes, if you share Lear's essentialist or paternalist understanding
of government. Those of us who live in the modern world (including
Shakespeare, I suspect) call it taxation, grumble a bit, and cough up in
order to preserve the State. Lear's error is that he doesn't understand
redistribution of wealth (it all goes on his useless retinue), indeed he
doesn't understand wealth, or economics, at all - I reiterate, Where are
the peasants and yeomanry in this play? Goneril and Regan, for all their
Machiavellian scheming, have a clearer notion of the social contract
than their dumb father (or their equally dumb sister).

Also abusive, Carol Barton adds, "is a king's assumption that he can
turn the homes of private citizens into barracks for his troops, or tax
people to fund his private agendas, etc. etc. etc."

The King, of course, doesn't have a "private agenda". His is a political
body - l'etait c'est moi, as Barton quoted Loius XIV. Again, that's the
problem with Lear - he has a strange notion of what his political body
constitutes (if it constitutes anything at all). It wasn't the problem
with either James or Charles, however, who both had very clear ideas
about what their political responsibilities were. Lancelot Andewes
preached a very interesting sermon on Matt 22:21 in 1601, in which he
remembered the Gaulonites who rose against taxation under "Judas of
Galilee" [Acts 5:37], "Men indeed of tumultuous spirits, but in shew
zealous preservers of the people's liberties", and contrasted them with
Christ, who was "ready to acknowledge what due is to either, both of
faith to God and allegiance to C

 

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