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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: March ::
Re: WT - Act V scene 2
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0466  Wednesday, 11 March 2003

[1]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 11 Mar 2003 14:37:38 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0454 WT - Act V scene 2

[2]     From:   Mary Jane Miller <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 11 Mar 2003 14:43:55 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0454 WT - Act V scene 2

[3]     From:   John W. Kennedy <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 11 Mar 2003 14:38:52 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0454 WT - Act V scene 2

[4]     From:   Annalisa Castaldo <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 11 Mar 2003 15:23:46 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0454 WT - Act V scene 2

[5]     From:   Dale Lyles <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 11 Mar 2003 17:59:00 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0454  WT - Act V scene 2

[6]     From:   Jonathan Hope <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 12 Mar 2003 09:45:58 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0454 WT - Act V scene 2

[7]     From:   John Marwick <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 12 Mar 2003 23:32:19 +1300
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0454 WT - Act V scene 2


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Tuesday, 11 Mar 2003 14:37:38 -0500
Subject: 14.0454 WT - Act V scene 2
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0454 WT - Act V scene 2

>I asked the
>students WHY they thought Shakespeare had chosen to have three minor
>characters describe the climactic reconciliation of Polixenes and
>Leontes, and the discovery of Perdita's true identity, rather than show
>the scene taking place.

It seems to me that this is an example of WS's dramatic genius.  If he
had staged these reconciliations it would have detracted from the
greater scene to come.

I wonder what it must have been like to be in the opening day audience
and not know that Hermione's statue would come to life.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mary Jane Miller <
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Date:           Tuesday, 11 Mar 2003 14:43:55 -0800
Subject: 14.0454 WT - Act V scene 2
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0454 WT - Act V scene 2

It works as a deferred climax. If this is our first experience of the
play, we sit and wonder why, after all of acts 4 and 5 we aren't seeing
this much anticipated reunion, and why we can't then go home.

"I saw WT in Stratford last summer and could have SWORN that I saw the
scene happen!  Did they actually stage it or was the description so
vivid that I am remembering seeing something I never actually saw??
Could THAT have been WS's intent?"

Following the narrated version of the reunion (which , when well done as
it seems to have been in the production you saw, can work as a radio
play  to create in each person's imagination perfection as he/she can
imagine it to be),  in a scenes most full of wonder, Shakespeare slowly
leads us into new territory. We discover, with Leontes, why the
emotional energy of the audience was not expended on the reunion of
father and daughter but rather on the much more complex undercurrents of
husband and wife, mother and daughter, friend and friend. Everyone has
to be ready for Hermione's revelation, including Hermione - there is
real suspense in Paulina's increasingly urgent requests for the statue
to move - and it takes the whole of scene 2 with what preceded it to
achieve that.

In my experience (I have directed it the play) the sequences works very
well for the actors,. The audience will go with it if the staging
problems in the  final scene are solved.

Mary Jane

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John W. Kennedy <
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Date:           Tuesday, 11 Mar 2003 14:38:52 -0500
Subject: 14.0454 WT - Act V scene 2
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0454 WT - Act V scene 2

>After I asked, I realized I had never really heard anyone discuss this
>issue, other than to comment that it was "odd."  I surmise that it has
>something to do with the audience believing as fact what another
>character reports so convincingly, but might disbelieve the sincerity of
>the reconciliation if they saw it happen.

I would think it more likely that Shakespeare saw a danger of repeating
himself, especially if "Pericles" antedates WT.

>One of my students thought maybe Shakespeare didn't want his play to be
>too long and figured that playing the scene out would take longer than
>telling it in a third person narrative.

Improbable, both because so simple an action can readily be performed
more rapidly than described, and because Shakespeare doesn't seem to
have worried much about playing time.

But it now occurs to me that it could be a question of wishing to spare
the actor playing Leontes, who has the very difficult statue scene ahead
of him.  (It has been observed that Shakespeare often gives his stars a
rest before the climax.)

>I saw WT in Stratford last summer and could have SWORN that I saw the
>scene happen!  Did they actually stage it or was the description so
>vivid that I am remembering seeing something I never actually saw??
>Could THAT have been WS's intent?

I have no idea about the production you saw, but it is far from unheard
of to present the scene in dumb show.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Annalisa Castaldo <
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Date:           Tuesday, 11 Mar 2003 15:23:46 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 14.0454 WT - Act V scene 2
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0454 WT - Act V scene 2

One of the main reasons for not staging the reunion of Perdita and
Leontes, I believe, is that it would take away from and possibly upstage
the much bigger and more magical reunion of Leontes and his "dead" wife
Hermione. I have no actual proof to back this up, but it seems likely
that back to back, emotionally moving reunions scenes would be too much,
and so Shakespeare chose to artfully describe one. And, of course, if he
was only going to stage one, it would be the last, unusual and highly
the

Annalisa Castaldo

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dale Lyles <
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Date:           Tuesday, 11 Mar 2003 17:59:00 EST
Subject: 14.0454  WT - Act V scene 2
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0454  WT - Act V scene 2

I agree with the student who suggested it was a matter of length.  Our
production of WT was way over three hours as it was, and to have to
build a scene with all those characters and all that suspense would have
added another 20-30 minutes to the show.  And after IV.3 (aka "the scene
that will not die"), it would have been tedious indeed.

Plus, you would then have the problem of what to do with the full cast
(minus Hermione) onstage, when the final scene involved them all yet
again.  Something has to alternate.

I'm sure Shakespeare thought it was a pity, but there it is.

Dale Lyles
Newnan Community Theatre Company

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jonathan Hope <
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Date:           Wednesday, 12 Mar 2003 09:45:58 +0000
Subject: 14.0454 WT - Act V scene 2
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0454 WT - Act V scene 2

>I am a Drama teacher and I am working on The Winter's Tale with my high
>school acting students.  While studying the various themes and plot
>points I just threw in a question about Act V, scene 2.  I asked the
>students WHY they thought Shakespeare had chosen to have three minor
>characters describe the climactic reconciliation of Polixenes and
>Leontes, and the discovery of Perdita's true identity, rather than show
>the scene taking place.

Sorry this is a shameless self-advertisement, but I discuss this scene
in relation to its patterns of noun phrase modification in my
forthcoming book, *Shakespeare's Grammar* (from Arden sometime this
year).  I very briefly speculate that the Perdita recognition scene is
reported rather than shown as dramatising it would have detracted from
the impact of the Hermione re-animation scene, just around the corner,
and which is itself effectively a recognition scene.

Whatever the reasons, the reports of the recognitions in 5.02 show a
very nice shift from pre- to post-head modification (!).

Jonathan Hope
Strathclyde University, Glasgow

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Marwick <
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Date:           Wednesday, 12 Mar 2003 23:32:19 +1300
Subject: 14.0454 WT - Act V scene 2
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0454 WT - Act V scene 2

I have always assumed that V 2 helped to heighten the effect of V 3 by
making sure that the last scene was clearly the climax of the play.

There's an interesting discussion of different views of the scene in
"Six points of Stagecraft" by Nevile Coghill (1958) from Shakespeare
Survey 8 (Cambridge University Press). In it Coghill highly praises the
scene and also quote Quiller-Couch (who thinks it's the greatest fault
in the play) and Bethell who thought it was all a parody.

John Marwick

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