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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: February ::
Re: "The Shakespeare Session" on PBS
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0345  Monday, 24 February 2003

[1]     From:   John W. Kennedy <
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        Date:   Friday, 21 Feb 2003 09:51:19 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0342 "The Shakespeare Session" on PBS

[2]     From:   Frank Whigham <
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        Date:   Friday, 21 Feb 2003 09:06:04 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0342 "The Shakespeare Session" on PBS

[3]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Friday, 21 Feb 2003 09:53:36 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0342 "The Shakespeare Session" on PBS

[4]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Friday, 21 Feb 2003 14:16:16 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.0342 "The Shakespeare Session" on PBS

[5]     From:   Janet Costa <
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        Date:   Saturday, 22 Feb 2003 11:22:05 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0342 "The Shakespeare Session" on PBS

[6]     From:   David Bishop <
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        Date:   Sunday, 23 Feb 2003 18:09:18 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0342 "The Shakespeare Session" on PBS


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John W. Kennedy <
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Date:           Friday, 21 Feb 2003 09:51:19 -0500
Subject: 14.0342 "The Shakespeare Session" on PBS
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0342 "The Shakespeare Session" on PBS

Charles Weinstein <
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 > writes,

>Nothing I like better than watching American actors murder Shakespeare:
>the stilted delivery, the mouthy recitation, the lack of ease,
>understanding and assurance.

This, I take it, is as opposed to English actors standing at the dead
center of the New Globe stage, paralyzed with fear because there is no
proscenium arch to protect them?  To the precious animatronic
reproductions of Irving-at-the-Lyceum so beloved of our latter-day
universitie wittes, who never could deal with any art that had not first
been embalmed?

La, I can generalize and prejudge as well as you any day.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Frank Whigham <
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Date:           Friday, 21 Feb 2003 09:06:04 -0600
Subject: 14.0342 "The Shakespeare Session" on PBS
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0342 "The Shakespeare Session" on PBS

This text is, I suppose we are to infer, the kind of informed
performance-review criticism that a proper reviewer can provide?
*Unlike* the self-serving narcissistic silliness that academic reviewers
produce?  Golly.

There's another kind of session at work here. Analyze this: "Whenever I
want to get really angry." . . . This text's favorite performance
emotion is, so far as I can see, contempt. ("Nothing I like better . . .
.") It is mouthy, immediately, painfully, ceaselessly, cruelly
revealing, of a delight in atrocity.

A therapist friend of mine usefully views contempt as a defense. The
virtual space of the internet (where SHAKSPER lives, like it or not)
makes this list a "safe place" (a padded room?) for such wall-to-wall
behavior.  Civility (a problematic category in various ways) is the
target here, Foucault's Madness and Civilization suggestive reading.

I'm not sure this is a topic for this list (it's not finally about
Shakespeare at all), but I frequently talk about it with my in-person
friends. What do we need to learn from the burgeoning praxis of
shock-jock apoplexy? Even where I live (Texas? the post-industrial
West?) there's a lot of it around.

"Fire burn and cauldron bubble."

Frank Whigham

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <
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Date:           Friday, 21 Feb 2003 09:53:36 -0600
Subject: 14.0342 "The Shakespeare Session" on PBS
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0342 "The Shakespeare Session" on PBS

I cannot speak to the particular tape CW is ripping apart here, but I
certainly find myself in agreement on the general topic: people who are
otherwise competent, even excellent, actors turn into middle-school
goofballs when confronted with the Immortal Bard. What seems to happen
is that they start to ACT. Hamlet (or even Guildenstern) stops being a
person and turns into a CHARACTER. Of course, you can't do a CHARACTER;
you can only ACT one. And the result is the painful rubbish we see so
much of.

Side Note 1: I saw Ben Kingsley on "Live from the Actors Studio" some
time ago and to demonstrate his skill he delivered a soliloquy ("To be
or not to be," if memory serves me) that was a masterpiece of the
bizarre and the stupid. I couldn't believe my ears.

Side Note 2: (Those who are weary of MOV discussion are dismissed) I was
mulling over how I would do Shylock if I ever got the opportunity (for
which I would kill), and I remembered a man from long in my past, when I
was employed in the newspaper business. He had been seriously crippled
by polio, and he was also the meanest, sneakiest, nastiest little petty
tyrant I have ever encountered. Even in the Army I never met his rotten
match. Of course, insofar as he was handicapped, he deserved concern.
But insofar as he was a conniving and deceitful bastard -- well, the
point, I think, is made.

Cheers,
don

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Friday, 21 Feb 2003 14:16:16 -0400
Subject: 14.0342 "The Shakespeare Session" on PBS
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.0342 "The Shakespeare Session" on PBS

Charles Weinstein claims that

"Whenever I want to feel really angry, I watch his [Kevin Kline's]
lachrymose and amateurish Hamlet, painfully over-cautious in his
enunciation, ceaselessly impressing himself with his ability to cry on
cue."

Why do you want to feel really angry, apparently quite often?

Yours,
Sean.

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Janet Costa <
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 >
Date:           Saturday, 22 Feb 2003 11:22:05 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 14.0342 "The Shakespeare Session" on PBS
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0342 "The Shakespeare Session" on PBS

Charles Weinstein <
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 > writes,

>Nothing I like better than watching American actors murder Shakespeare:
>the stilted delivery, the mouthy recitation, the lack of ease,
>understanding and assurance.  Too bad they had to bring in Harriet
>Walter from the UK, who immediately threw everyone in her shadow ("Now
>pay attention, children; this is how it's done").  Too bad, also, that
>they gave so much air-time to Kevin Kline.

Has George Bernard Shaw been resurrected? Does the ever-ugly head of the
snobbish RP continue to run amok? Have you not read Hamlet's
instructions to the Players? "The play's the thing..." I'm sure that if
you go through the plays, you will see our boy Will was no stranger to
accents. He employed them freely.

Yet, I don't think I have ever seen a scholarly paper on his use of
RP...

Janet

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Bishop <
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 >
Date:           Sunday, 23 Feb 2003 18:09:18 -0800
Subject: 14.0342 "The Shakespeare Session" on PBS
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0342 "The Shakespeare Session" on PBS

I thought Charles Dutton showed some promise too, though overall I agree
with Charles Weinstein that the Americans were embarrassing. Kevin
Kline, who wasn't bad, I thought, as Bottom, can't do serious. However,
a prominent Shakespeare professor once told me that her favorite Hamlet
was Kline's. Go figure. This show was interesting though, as study in
tact. John Barton was almost successful in concealing his dismay.

Best wishes,
David Bishop

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