2003

bardolater: M-W's Word of the Day

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0221  Thursday, 6 February 2003

From:           Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, February 06, 2003
Subject:        bardolater: M-W's Word of the Day

For some time, I have subscribed to the Merriam-Webster Word of the Day:

http://www.startsampling.com/sm/wod/register.iphtml

Reading it gives me something to do when I first open my personal e-mail
account in the mornings.

Here is what I found this morning:

The Word of the Day for Feb 06 is:

bardolater \bar-DAH-luh-ter\ (noun)
: a person who idolizes Shakespeare

Example sentence:
The annual Shakespeare festival attracts bardolaters from all over the
world.

If you would like to read the "Did you know?" section that discusses
Shaw's role, see

http://www.merriam-webster.com/cgi-bin/mwwod.pl


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Re: DOD Gives GIs Copies of H5

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0220  Thursday, 6 February 2003

[Editor's Note: I have had my reservation about this thread since it
began. I hoped that it would be taken as just another "pop" culture
citation, but it is slipping somewhat beyond that. I will continue to
post submissions about the nature of *Henry V*, as I recall it was
Harold Goddard who first suggested the play was anti-war, but I would
like to keep references to the current situation out of the
conversations. My reason is I just do not want to spend my time editing
and formatting digests that are for or against what is currently going
on. If anyone would like to know my own opinion or political
orientation, I will be more than happy to inform you privately. -Hardy]

[1]     From:   Edmund Taft <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 05 Feb 2003 11:30:15 -0500
        Subj:   DOD Gives GIs Copies of H5

[2]     From:   Brian Willis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Wednesday, 5 Feb 2003 11:29:27 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0202


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 05 Feb 2003 11:30:15 -0500
Subject:        DOD Gives GIs Copies of H5

Responding to Richard Burt's information (see title of this thread),
Dana Shilling wrote:

"I think we should say rather that "a sovereign is manipulated into
leading his nation into a dangerous, unnecessary and unjustified war in
which significant war crimes are committed, the manipulation being done
by cynics who don't think the sovereign is very bright."

Maybe. But the war fever in England is white hot because of the new
king's "transformation." He engineered that, right? Moreover, in the
council scene, Henry at first resists going to war, thus increasing the
war fever of all to the breaking point. That's when the memories of the
"black prince" begin.

So who is manipulating whom? From my point of view, the council and the
Bishops are putty in Henry's hands.  You know, he could have backed the
Bill that would have contributed greatly to the common good, and that
the "commons" wanted. But to have done so would have entailed the risk
of being overthrown by those who want war (the very war Henry has
psychologically made overwhelmingly attractive.)

--Ed Taft

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Willis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 5 Feb 2003 11:29:27 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 14.0202 Re: DOD Gives GIs Copies of H5
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0202 Re: DOD Gives GIs Copies of H5

I had the absolute privilege of playing Henry about 6 years ago.
Regardless of your view of the titular character, I found the play to be
one of the most personally moving anti-war statements made in literature
and drama. Take these moments: Henry's admonition to Canterbury, the
Harfleur speech, the behavior of the Eastcheap crowd in France, the
entirety of Act IV especially the discussions about the responsibilities
of soldiers and leaders the night before the battle, Henry's Ceremony
and God of Battles soliloquies, the description of the death of York
(which always brought tears to my eyes onstage), the slaughter of the
boys and the execution of the prisoners as extra baggage when the French
renew their assault, the roll call of the dead, and not least, the
absolutely beautiful and evocative description of the desolation of
France by Burgundy before the treaty is signed. I could not help but see
the negative aspects of the war. I think it is one of the common
mistakes of many people who read, study, watch and sometimes even
perform Henry V that they take and emphasize Once More into the Breach
and St. Crispin's Day as the main aspects of the play.

Brian Willis

_______________________________________________________________
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No Wonder: Twelfth Night,

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0218  Thursday, 6 February 2003

From:           Charles Weinstein <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 5 Feb 2003 18:23:35 -0500
Subject:        No Wonder: Twelfth Night, Directed by Sam Mendes

How can a theatre company freshen this most beautiful and overexposed of
plays?  By taking it seriously, for a start.  The characters confront
the paradox of loving deeply without being loved in return, a
bewildering asymmetry that makes the world seem wrong.  In response,
they adopt a variety of strategies:  denial, grandiosity, harassment,
bribery, abjection, resignation, madness.  Viola loves Orsino who loves
Olivia who loves Cesario, and this round-robin of non-requital is echoed
by other sad and comic histories. Andrew and Malvolio both desire
Olivia, who ignores the one and misapprehends the other.  Antonio
silently worships Sebastian, but can an Illyrian Count remain friends
with a pirate? Only Feste, who has no illusions, and Toby, who is too
drunk to care, are exempt from the plague; and even Toby dwindles into a
husband.

In the final scene a baffled and despairing Orsino asks Olivia, "What
shall I do?"  Anything you like, is her tart reply.  Why shouldn't I
kill you? he rejoins.  At which, I imagine, everyone turns to stone.
His murderous thoughts then fasten on Cesario, whose capture of Olivia's
affections he has instantly divined.  In a kind of frenzy, his intent
"ripe in mischief," he orders his servant to follow him to her death.
Viola now breaks her four-act silence.  In a frenzy or ecstasy of her
own, she declares that she loves Orsino more than existence and will
gladly let him take her life.  If she cannot be her master's mistress,
she will be his mortal victim, a consummation devoutly to be wished.
This is not empty posturing, and it is not funny either.  Comedy teeters
on the edge of tragic catastrophe:  it is rescued by the sudden entrance
of a drowned man.   As in the later romances, a seeming miracle redeems
the time.   This is the air, and that the glorious sun:  for once, and
for a few, the world is set right.

The pain, absurdity and transcendence of these moments can be realized
only by "taking the play seriously," a process generally known as
commitment.  But commitment is not a virtue in a postmodern age.
Advanced classical theaters favor irony, detachment, dream-like
stylization and the chilly recesses of self-consciousness.  Sam Mendes'
Twelfth Night is less in thrall to such chicness than other productions
of the same feather, and it manages to do some things correctly or
inoffensively.  The music for cello, guitar and piano is poignant.  The
set, derived from Adrian Noble's Midsummer (Mendes is highly imitative),
features an attractive forest of hanging lamps.   A large picture frame
in which the characters strike infrequent poses does no particular
harm.  The actors are all competent, and some are better than that.

Yet the production disappoints.  Sweet-tempered and agreeable, it flows
along smoothly, skillfully and shallowly, never once sifting through to
profounder regions or widening into prospects of infinity.  Even the
better performers are reined-in and muted, keeping a small but crucial
distance from the play.

A great Twelfth Night requires a great Viola, but greatness and Emily
Watson have yet to meet.  Ten years ago, Ms. Watson was a mere
supernumerary at Stratford.  She stood out even then, largely because
she didn't fit in anywhere.  She subsequently found a niche in cinema,
giving bad performances in bad movies (Breaking the Waves, Hillary and
Jackie) and appealing performances in bad movies (Red Dragon).  As Viola
she is certainly appealing, and sweet, very sweet; but she never exerts
herself, never rises or delves, never strays from an easy, casual note
of bemused wistfulness.  The decline of English Violas from the standard
set by Judi Dench and Dorothy Tutin--a devolution exemplified by Imogen
Stubbs, Emma Fielding, Emily Watson and others--is a spectacle more
heartbreaking than anything in this production.

Helen McCrory struggles to combine two very different versions of
Olivia: the giddy, impetuous vamp first seen in Peter Hall's 1958
production, and the imperious Madonna of earlier tradition who finds
herself chastened by sudden ardor.  She nearly succeeds but should never
have tried:  the latter-day approach is reductive and trivial.  Selina
Cadell's Maria, surprised by middle-age, affects form-fitting dresses,
ingenue hairstyles and byzantine practical jokes as a quietly desperate
means of clinging to youth:  the most subtle and interesting performance
of the evening.  A rosaceous, Kiplingesque Toby (Paul Jesson) nails each
of his laughs efficiently, while an impressively desiccated Andrew
(David Bradley) provokes smiles without even trying.  Orsino, Feste and
Fabian skim their parts.  The actor playing Antonio is a nullity.

The supposed star performance is Simon Russell Beale's Malvolio.
Abysmal as Iago and Hamlet, Beale is more comfortably situated in
comedy, where his risible appearance, plummy diction and heavily
congested voice no longer seem out of place.  Bearded and mustached like
Sebastian Cabot, guiding his spherical belly about the stage on mincing
little feet like an en pointe hippo, Beale is amusing without being
hilarious, pathetic without being moving, capable without being remotely
great.  Alas, his pronounced effeminacy makes his alleged desire for
Olivia seem incredible (though it does suggest an interesting way of
tying up loose ends: perhaps he and Antonio could pair off at the
finale).

The last scene of this production never touches heaven; it lapses
instead into a familiar sleepwalking mode.  Somnambulism is by now a
postmodern cliche (e.g., Andrei Serban's Twelfth Night at the American
Repertory Theater; Robert Lepage's Midsummer at the National).  It is
deployed here not to evoke wonder but to evade it.  "Wonder" is clearly
embarrassing nowadays; yet without it, a Twelfth Night is doomed to
inconsequence.  At the end of this production, one is much the same as
when it began:  dry-eyed, heart-whole, neither moved nor exhilarated.
In Shakespeare there are no awards for coming close.

--Charles Weinstein

_______________________________________________________________
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.

Re: Research

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0219  Thursday, 6 February 2003

From:           Philip Tomposki <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 05 Feb 2003 21:59:09 -0500
Subject:        Re: Research

>From Elliott H. Stone:

"I do not know why it is continuously repeated that Shakespeare's
geography of Italy is wrong. It is quite clear that Verona was
approached in his time by a canal and thus was an important seaport and
had a harbor. It still exists! I know many fervent Shakespeareans that
have traveled on it."

I'll take your word on the canal, but there are plenty of other reasons
to question Shakespeare's knowledge of Italy.  For example, why do the
Veronese characters in TGV engage in a 1400 circumnavigation of Italy to
reach Milan, a mere 90 land miles away?  How could landlocked Mantua get
into a naval conflict with Venice (TS, IV, ii, line 83)?  When did Padua
get moved to Lombardy (TS, I, I, lines 2-3)?  There are many other
errors which I omit for the sake of brevity.

"...Yes, Bohemia in Shakespeare's time had a seacoast!..."

Really, I must have slept through the history class that dealt with the
geological cataclysm that gave Bohemia a seacoast, as well as the one
that took it away.  That Bohemia was, at that time, part of an empire
that contained seacoasts does alter the fact that Bohemia itself was
landlocked.  The U.S. is bordered by two oceans and a gulf, but we don't
talk about Montana's seacoast.  Besides, a coast in a remote province
will not serve.  Perdita is visited regularly by Florizel.  She must
therefore live within reasonably proximity to the Palace, which would
not be located in the boonies.

"...There may be anachronisms in the Canon but the Bard's geography was
excellent."

That Shakespeare's geography is sometimes correct only means he was
using an accurate source at the time.  The errors of geography in the
Canon are numerous and not always explicable by artistic choice.  To
quote Samuel Johnson, Shakespeare is "little careful of geography".

>From Marcus Dahl:

"Shakespeare didn't need to have sailed (or not sailed) anywhere to get
his idea that Bohemia had a coastline - he got it from his source text -
Greene's 'Pandosto'."

Indeed, and the university educated Greene sets his tale when the Oracle
of Delphi is still active, centuries before the real Bohemia existed.
Greene's, and Shakespeare's, Bohemia is a fantasy.  So, of course, is
Shakespeare's Illyria, Ephesus, Navarre, and even his Italy, France and
Denmark.  Fantasy locals can easily be created without the need for
'research'.

Best,
Philip Tomposki

_______________________________________________________________
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.

Re: Naked Shakespeare

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0217  Thursday, 6 February 2003

From:           Takashi Kozuka <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 5 Feb 2003 21:10:10 +0000 (GMT)
Subject:        Re: Naked Shakespeare

Yes, I read elsewhere that *Real Sex* was an American programme, and I'm
quite certain that Channel 5 is replaying it. I also heard of the naked
Macbeth (was it on SHAKSPER?) and it may be the one which Channel 5 is
going to show (tonight). Unfortunately (or fortunately?) I can't get a
clear picture on the channel due to its notoriously bad reception in the
area where I live. Let's hope that other SHAKSPERians in the UK may post
some comments.

Best wishes,
Takashi Kozuka

_______________________________________________________________
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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