2002

Re: Why Hawthorne Hated the RSC

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1489  Tuesday, 4 June 2002

From:           Jan Pick <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 4 Jun 2002 10:16:14 +0100
Subject: 13.1486 Why Hawthorne Hated the RSC
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1486 Why Hawthorne Hated the RSC

A similar 'abandonment' was described by two of the actors in the
current MSND.  They said that after the reviews came out - which were
scurrilous - no one from the production was there to nurse them through
- their director had disappeared to direct something else, Adrian Noble
- whose job it should have been as head of the company was too busy
directing Chitty to appear at all, and they definitely felt they had
been abandoned to sink!  I may say that the actors were speaking to a
study group and that one of the group immediately rose and apologised on
behalf of the Company for this unacceptable and hRe: orrific state of
affairs - he was a governor!  So, the RSC has definitely sunk as a
company if this is what is now considered acceptable!  It is becoming a
commercial churn out the product!

Jan

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Re: Hermeticism

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1488  Tuesday, 4 June 2002

From:           Robin Hamilton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 4 Jun 2002 00:59:53 +0100
Subject: 13.1481 Re: Hermetic and Prospero's Books
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1481 Re: Hermetic and Prospero's Books

Clifford Stetner, in the context of Hermeticism, raises the possibility
of a link between _The Tempest_ and the Pimander.  Another possible link
might be with Marsilio Ficino's _Theologia Platonica_.

In Prospero, there may be a reflection of that ideal man, the mental
magus, which is found in Ficino.  In this sense, Prospero through his
magic activities throughout the play acts as just such a magus as is put
forward in general by Ficino for admiration and more specifically
Prospero is one who demonstrates the Ficinian ideal as presented in the
_Platonic Theology_:

        "Let us therefore consider ... the liberal arts ... the subtle
reckoning of numbers, the curious drawing of figures, the obscure
movements of lines and the awe-inspiring consonance of music, the
long-continued observation of the stars, the inquiry into natural
causes, the investigations of things long past ..." (Ficino)

It is someone with just these interests who is represented by Prospero,
who is "for the liberal arts / Without a parallel, those being all my
study" (I,ii,73-74), and who describes himself as "being transported /
And rapt in secret studies" (I,ii,76-77); who:

            . . . thus neglecting worldly ends, all dedicated
        To closeness and the bettering of my mind
        With that which, but by being so retir'd,
        O'er-priz'd all popular rate ...
                                (I,ii,89-92)

thus lost his power to his brother.  Prospero is again like Ficino's
ideal man in that he, in the words of the _Platonic Theology_:

       " ... uses not only the elements, but also all the animals which
belong to the elements, the animals of the earth, of the water, and of
the air, for food, convenience and pleasure, and the higher, celestial
beings for knowledge and the miracles of magic." (Ficino)

Prospero uses the elements, the storm and the rain, for his purposes;
he uses the representative of, if not the animals, then at least the
sub-human, Caliban, for his convenience and pleasure; and finally, of
course, he uses the celestial creature, Ariel, for the miracles of
magic.  Prospero is in general very close to the figure of the ideal man
which Ficino presents, in that he is shown as exercising a god-like
authority over beast and spirit, acting as a god to other men, and
raising himself to an almost divine plane, and more particularly, we can
see Prospero, in his studies and activities as described and
demonstrated in the second scene of the play, as perhaps reflecting even
more specific aspects of Ficino's _Platonic Theology_.

Robin Hamilton

[Re the Pimander.  Ficino gave the title "Pimander" to the _Corpus
Hermeticum_ as a whole, which he translated into Latin.  I think the
first translation into English was by Thomas (General) Fairfax, about
the middle of the seventeenth century.  Curiously enough (but I may
simply have missed it), Thomas Stanley doesn't seem to touch on the
CH/Pimander and Hermes Trismegistus in his seventeenth century _History
of Philosophy_, though the other Usual Suspects -- Zoroaster, the
Chaldean Oracles, Psellus, Patrizzi, etc. -- are included.  RH.]

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Why Hawthorne Hated the RSC

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1486  Monday, 3 June 2002

From:           Takashi Kozuka <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 3 Jun 2002 11:04:06 +0100 (BST)
Subject:        Why Hawthorne Hated the RSC

[From the Sunday Times (02 June 2002)]

Cover story: Sir Nigel Hawthorne's autobiography:

Extract: The last battle
Shortly before he died, Sir Nigel Hawthorne wrote this savage account of
working for Britain's premier classical acting company, the RSC. He
found it arrogant, heartless and rude.

I had no intention when I set out on my autobiography to arrive at the
end of it with even the slightest trace of bitterness. I embarked on it
with a spirit of fun, even if my intention was to sprinkle it with a few
samples of straightforward honesty.

I'm not by nature a vindictive person. But the time has come to be harsh
about the Royal Shakespeare Company, the RSC. I believe they deserve it.
I know that currently they're having problems and that there's a lot of
bad feeling, but one thing is clear.  They don't know how to behave
towards the people they employ. As an actor, I have been horrified by
their arrogance and their lack of support.

After I appeared in The Madness of George III, with all its associations
with King Lear, a number of people tried to push Shakespeare's great
tragedy in my direction. I managed to fend them off as gently as I
could.

The exertion of playing that massive role for a long period - it's never
just a short spurt - was too daunting even to think about. In addition,
the play had problems, particularly in the first scene where the king's
relationship with his favourite daughter takes a nose-dive for no
discernible reason. So the answer was no. I didn't think King Lear was a
good idea for me. Too many problems, but thanks all the same.

Four years passed. One day in 1998 I was writing some letters in my
office when the phone rang. It was Adrian Noble, the artistic director
of the RSC, telephoning from New York. Would I play Lear for the RSC,
its millennium production, to run over a six-month period, opening in
Tokyo, playing a month at the Barbican in London and then up to
Stratford? It was all a bit much to absorb, but in my head I ran it over
and over and over again: arguably Shakespeare's greatest play, over the
millennium, my first time at Stratford. I was the right age, 69, and, if
I was thinking of retiring from the theatre after 50 years' service,
what better vehicle to choose for an exit? I forgot to ask the name of
the director. It turned out to be Yukio Ninagawa, Japan's most
celebrated interpreter of Shakespeare. I discussed the proposal with
Trevor Bentham, my partner, and accepted.

Ninagawa came over to London and, through an interpreter, we discussed
some of his ideas. He let me have his drawing of the set. There were
small circular objects littering the ground that he identified as rocks.
I asked their function, but he deflected the question with a good deal
of smiling and bowing.

He was an extremely likeable man and I thought there was a good chance
that we'd work well together. If anything went disastrously wrong, we'd
have the paternal, richly experienced, solid and dependable shoulder of
the RSC upon which to lean - or so we thought.

I had a whole year to prepare, so I jumped into my car and eliminated
from every bookshop within miles anything remotely to do with King Lear.
Each day, wherever I was, whatever I was doing, I worked on King Lear,
trying to unravel some of the conundrums that had so often beset me.

One thing I simply couldn't get out of my mind was a little woodcut left
me by my beloved grandmother that I have in my spare room. I've owned it
for 50 years and heaven knows how long my grandmother had it before
then. Since she'd been a student, I supposed. It is a storm scene by
Hiroshige, the great Japanese artist.  Lashing rain. People with
umbrellas struggling to force their way through diagonal lengths of
string, or so they seem, representing the atrocious weather.

The RSC set aside a rehearsal room at the Barbican for three days so
that the cast could get to know each other a bit before we went to
Japan. A visit from Cicely Berry, the official voice coach (whose flat I
used to clean when I was out of work in the 1960s), was promised. She
had done a studio production of the play for the RSC, I think, and saw
herself as something of an authority.

Cicely walked in, scattering photocopies of a Shakespearian sonnet about
the floor like a farmer distributing seed. The actors obediently scooped
them up and she invited us to read through the sonnet, each actor
entrusted with one line. That achieved, we sat down to read the play.
Miss Berry sat next to me, which was a bit unnerving, and announced with
authority in a loud stage whisper: "Lear is a Marxist play."

I remember the first reading of a production of Pinter's The Caretaker
when the director announced to a startled cast: "Now, as you all know,
this is a play about Jesus Christ." The silence that followed was every
bit as full of meaning as one of Harold's own.  Under such
circumstances, you have only two options -get up and go home, or be
patient and hope the director will return to his senses.

The flight to Japan was a long one, and I have since suspected that my
enforced sedentary position over such a lengthy period was the harbinger
of the deep-vein thrombosis that clotted my arteries and later led to so
many of my health problems.

Japan looked to the newcomer like a large number of cities seamlessly
joined together, but I loved the area of Ikebukuro where we were
staying. The girls were as pretty as dolls, and in their anxiety to
avoid looking identical they dressed themselves in skimpy frocks, wore
massive moon boots, painted their faces, dyed their hair orange and
remained as alike as peas in a pod.

We all gathered on the first day in one of the vast rehearsal rooms for
the first of many receptions.  There was a huge Japanese turnout. The
entire crew, the assistants and representatives of the various
departments - wigs, make-up, publicity, sound, music.  Everybody was
dressed in black. After the speeches, Ninagawa invited us to look at the
theatre. The massive procession followed him down a very long linoleum
corridor at the end of which were some doors.  With a proud flourish, he
flung them open.

I don't think I've ever been more shocked in my life.  The monumental
set was already in place, fully painted. A team of black-uniformed
experts were busy focusing the lights. Backstage there were racks of
practice clothes, swords, bows and arrows, spears, carcasses of wild
animals for the hunting scene, various items of furniture, including a
throne, cloaks for disguises.

It was almost as if the Japanese were saying: "All right. You are
members of the Royal Shakespeare Company over here to perform King Lear.
We have invested 


Re: Suicide

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1487  Tuesday, 4 June 2002

[1]     From:   Helen Ostovich <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 3 Jun 2002 00:43:43 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1480 Suicide

[2]     From:   Rick Jones <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 03 Jun 2002 11:52:16 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1480 Suicide

[3]     From:   Brian Willis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 3 Jun 2002 11:26:13 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1480 Suicide

[4]     From:   Peter Hyland <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 3 Jun 2002 14:35:59 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1480 Suicide

[5]     From:   Markus Marti <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 04 Jun 2002 01:35:35 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1480 Suicide

[6]     From:   Charles Weinstein <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 3 Jun 2002 23:23:54 -0400
        Subj:   Suicide


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Helen Ostovich <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 3 Jun 2002 00:43:43 -0400
Subject: 13.1480 Suicide
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1480 Suicide

Sordido, in Every Man Out of his Humour, in 3.2 (Revels).

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Rick Jones <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 03 Jun 2002 11:52:16 -0500
Subject: 13.1480 Suicide
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1480 Suicide

>Does anyone know of any play, other than A&C, in which a character tries
>to commit suicide and fails?

I'm not sure if Marvin Rosenberg's question refers specifically to
Shakespeare.  If not, there are certainly a number of examples, the best
known (at least off the top of my head) being Chekhov's _Sea Gull_.

Rick
Stephen F. Austin State University

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Willis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 3 Jun 2002 11:26:13 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 13.1480 Suicide
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1480 Suicide

Lear - Gloucester on the cliffs at Dover.

Brian Willis

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Hyland <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 3 Jun 2002 14:35:59 -0700
Subject: 13.1480 Suicide
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1480 Suicide

Would Gloucester's "leap" from the cliff at Dover be classifiable as
attempted suicide?

Peter Hyland

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Markus Marti <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 04 Jun 2002 01:35:35 +0100
Subject: 13.1480 Suicide
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1480 Suicide

> Does anyone know of any play, other than A&C, in which a character tries
> to commit suicide and fails?

The most tragic character I know in this respect is Papageno in the
Magic Flute, but I am also happy that he fails. The comic relief with
the Pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-geno-Pa-pa-pa-pa-gena- duet is too nice.

And then there are, of course, most characters in Beckett's plays. And
there are Harold and Maude. Or does it have to be characters in a play
by Shakespeare?

And what is it that you are looking for? Is it a suicide that we would
not like to happen? Or do you just want to see people trying to kill
themselves without success?

- Hamlet seems to consider a suicide or two from time to time, but
unfortunately he has not got the guts to do it - the play could be much
shorter otherwise, and less blood would be spent. Try to think of it
from the perspective of the other people in the play. From the middle of
the play onwards he begins to kill other people: Is that better?

- Orsino or Olivia in 12th Night: But we all know that boredom or
exaggerated mourning is not the best means to kill oneself - although it
might lead to an entry in the Guiness Book of records. Still, it is a
failure. Unless you think that matrimony is another way of suicide.

- Pyramus and Thisbe try hard to kill themselves, and their attempts
seem ridiculous, but they do not really fail, do they? Romeo's and
Juliet's deaths are somehow ironic, but they are not really "failed
suicides".

- Timon of Athens seems to need several attempts, because he writes
several epitaphs. But then, with the Roman plays and the histories
things get more problematic anyway: Is there not a suicidal element in
the mere idea to be, to stay or to become a ruler? Julius Caesar
succeeds in having himself killed. Do not also both Brutus and Mark
Antony play with the possibility that they might get killed by the
populace? What about Cinna the poet -why does he not say that he is a
mender of soles?

-Or Richard III, does he know that Lady Anne will not kill him, or is he
just gambling for his life? Does he really think he will get away with
everything, or does he just try to go on till he is stopped?
Why does Macbeth follow what seems to be his destiny? Why does anybody
want to become a king or ruler? Do not those who become the HEAD of a
society at the same time cry for their henchman: Here is my head - chop
it off or hang me? At the end of Titus Andronicus, the remaining
Andronici become leaders because they threaten to kill themselves
otherwise. What about duels? Hotspur seems to succeed as a suicidal
maniac, Prince Hal doesn't.

Ducking my head,
Markus Marti

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Charles Weinstein <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 3 Jun 2002 23:23:54 -0400
Subject:        Suicide

In Act III of The Seagull Treplev enters with his head bandaged:  he
tried to kill himself with a pistol-shot, but failed.  At the end of the
play he tries again; this time he succeeds.  Neither incident is shown:
the failed attempt occurs in the interval between Acts II and III; the
final suicide takes place offstage, though the gunshot is heard.
Perhaps, then, one could say that Antony and Cleopatra is the only play
that depicts a failed suicide attempt onstage.

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Halliday Correction?

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1485  Monday, 3 June 2002

From:           Mike Jensen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 02 Jun 2002 23:59:01 -0700
Subject:        Halliday Correction?

For those who, like myself, make the occasional marginal correction:
F.E. Halliday's book *The Cult of Shakespeare* (New York: Thomas
Yoseloff, 1960/London publication was 1957) may have an error on page
139, where Halliday wrote,

>>>By 1841, Collier... was acknowledged as the leading authority on
>>>Shakespeare and the early drama, and in that year he founded the
>>>Shakespeare Society<<<

The seal on the Shakespeare Society's publication of the play *The
Marriage of Wit and Wisdom* has this legend,

>>>The Shakespeare Society Founded 1840<<<

If Halliday is mistaken, it is a small blemish on an otherwise engaging
book.  My intent is not to discredit Halliday, but to make sure the
matter on the record.

Mike Jensen

_______________________________________________________________
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.
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DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
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