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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: February ::
Re: Representing Ariel
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0257  Wednesday, 12 February 2003

[1]     From:   Kristen McDermott <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 11 Feb 2003 11:20:25 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0239 Representing Ariel

[2]     From:   David Evett <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 11 Feb 2003 12:17:20 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0239 Representing Ariel

[3]     From:   Graham Hall <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 11 Feb 2003 18:15:30 +0000
        Subj:   Aunty Beeb's Ariels

[4]     From:   Stuart Manger <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 11 Feb 2003 18:18:37 +0000
        Subj:   SHK 14.0239 Representing Ariel

[5]     From:   Jan Pick <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 11 Feb 2003 22:36:21 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0239 Representing Ariel


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kristen McDermott <
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Date:           Tuesday, 11 Feb 2003 11:20:25 EST
Subject: 14.0239 Representing Ariel [was BBC Series]
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0239 Representing Ariel [was BBC Series]

I was moved by the conception of Ariel in the production featured in the
PBS "Behind the Scenes with Julie Taymor" video.  The character was
created by a dark-veiled puppeteer, who voiced Ariel and held a simple
white mask in her hand.  The mask swooped and fluttered to indicate mood
and movement, while the puppeteer's body was mostly still except for
moving around the stage -- quite eerie and lovely.  I'm interested to
see which director will soon decide to tackle "The Tempest" using the
latest CG effects -- I can imagine a wonderful Caliban created in the
same way as Andy Serkis' Gollum in "The Two Towers."

Kristen McDermott

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
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Date:           Tuesday, 11 Feb 2003 12:17:20 -0500
Subject: 14.0239 Representing Ariel [was BBC Series]
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0239 Representing Ariel [was BBC Series]

I haven't seen the BBC *Tempest* since it was first broadcast in the US
because I thought it too dreadful to be worth the time and trouble.  I
thought then, however, that a very peculiar feature of a made-for-TV
version of the play was the half-arsed use of the possibilities inherent
in the medium for special effects--as I recall, nothing more spectacular
than stopping the camera briefly a couple of times so that Ariel could
suddenly vanish or appear.

Dave Evett

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Graham Hall <
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Date:           Tuesday, 11 Feb 2003 18:15:30 +0000
Subject:        Aunty Beeb's Ariels

The only decent Aunty Beeb Ariel sticks atop Broadcasting House in
Portland Square, London. Another, as I recollect, was their house
magazine which, unless I'm mistaken, has folded. Although I may be
confusing this with the name they gave the staff canteen - which didn't
do banquets well at all.

Best,
Graham Hall

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stuart Manger <
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Date:           Tuesday, 11 Feb 2003 18:18:37 +0000
Subject: Representing Ariel [was BBC Series]
Comment:        SHK 14.0239 Representing Ariel [was BBC Series]

David Lindley and I will both remember a notable recent challenging and
successful RSC Stratford production that had Ariel in multiple,
sometimes androgynous, sometimes sex-specific forms. I suspect that
Ariel - even more than Puck? - is arguably the most visually elusive and
problematic stage character Shakespeare ever created - as indeed he
(she?? it?? - there we go!) seems to intend, judging by what he/she/it
says of him/her/itself, BUT Ariel is so entirely and so wonderfully
theatrical a trope.

But doesn't theatre frequently depend on such visual surprise,
make-believe, defiance of expectation and/or convention, so that any
stage representation of Ariel is bound to enthral or polarise or
exasperate audiences who have a pre-conceived notion of how each
character should be realised. The burly Ariel of Simon Russell Beale
happened to outrage me, but others found it totally consonant with the
comic framework of the play. I have produced the play twice in the last
fifteen years in the school in which I teach: first time we used a very
slim, ethereal looking 14 yr old boy with brilliant and naturally white
hair - uncannily like Legolas in the current Lord of the Rings films ,
the second time a strapping shaven headed Glaswegian lad of 18.

BUT the way you cast / direct Propsero in each context is critical to
the play's visual and even emotional and theatrical logic. The poetry's
the thing anyway. Unless you make the Ariel trope so seriously radical -
in my view that is what Russell Beale did - audiences are fantastically
tolerant and curious - possibly more so in The Tempest than any other of
Shakespeare's plays, and actively enjoy the puzzle / challenge you set
them by such casting.

Stuart Manger

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jan Pick <
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Date:           Tuesday, 11 Feb 2003 22:36:21 -0000
Subject: 14.0239 Representing Ariel [was BBC Series]
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0239 Representing Ariel [was BBC Series]

Mary Todd follows the outdated idea that Shakespeare is for the study
only, then?  A mistake to put the plays on stage at all!  I find the
BBCs useful as a basic introduction - my own children were introduced to
the plays we were going to see on stage through them so that they could
pace the performance on stage - my daughter saw 'Romeo and Juliet' at
age 6, both as a video (BBC) then at Stratford - and has been hooked
ever since, so we, in our superior wisdom, should not knock them too
much.  She passed on her enthusiasm to a large number of her friends.
Not many series inspire a child so that by the time she is 18 she has
seen all but three of the plays and many of them many times!  My son's
special was 'Coriolanus', which he thought was fantastic!

Jan Pick

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