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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: March ::
Re: The Real Beale
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0606  Friday, 28 March 2003

[1]     From:   Brian Willis <
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        Date:   Thursday, 27 Mar 2003 10:50:33 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0587 Re: The Real Beale

[2]     From:   Charles Weinstein <
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        Date:   Thursday, 27 Mar 2003 18:30:43 -0800
        Subj:   The Real Beale

[3]     From:   Anna Kamaralli <
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        Date:   Friday, 28 Mar 2003 16:04:25 +1100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0587 Re: The Real Beale


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Willis <
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Date:           Thursday, 27 Mar 2003 10:50:33 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 14.0587 Re: The Real Beale
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0587 Re: The Real Beale

>Of course [Bloom]'s reading also depends upon
>Gertrude's "He is fat and
>>scant of breath" meaning "He is covered in sweat,
>and is out-of-breath
>>because he has been exercising" rather than the
>alternative "My poor
>>son!  He is overweight and finding this exercise
>rather difficult".

There must be some precedence for this line actually referring to an
overweight condition. Olivier changes this line in his film to "he is
hot and scant of breath". Or quite possibly he did not want the line
misinterpreted (although he is far from overweight in the film). Either
way, the line has more than one interpretation and can easily support
less than starving actors.

Brian Willis

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Charles Weinstein <
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Date:           Thursday, 27 Mar 2003 18:30:43 -0800
Subject:        The Real Beale

Dear Mr. Larque:

1.  The question as to who is "ranting" here is an open one.  At times,
you have come close to describing my views accurately--e.g., I do
believe that most Shakespearean films are trivial or poor, and that they
cannot form the basis for a credible academic discipline.  For the most
part, however, you have ascribed beliefs to me which I do not hold, and
have then attacked those beliefs at considerable length.  As a result,
you appear to be howling to yourself while I eavesdrop, which almost
makes me feel impolite.

2.  I am far from the self-besotted actor that you have attempted to
paint.  Sometimes I feel I've done well; sometimes not; and sometimes my
feelings are mixed.  (Of course, such assessments can only be made after
the fact.)  My critical reception during the past fifteen years has been
quite good, but my reaction to it has been equivocal.  Sometimes I feel
that my critics are astute; most of the time I don't; and this has
nothing to do with whether or how much they like me.  On the whole I
feel that I'm good and getting better:  you're welcome to disagree if
you ever see me perform.  In the meantime I neither expect nor want any
critic to go easy on me.

3.  Speaking only of his Shakespearean work, I have seen Simon Russell
Beale as Iago, Hamlet and Malvolio, have listened to his audio
portrayals of Hamlet and Parolles, and have heard him perform some fifty
soliloquies and speeches on compilations issued by EMI and Naxos.  In
general, I find him to be conceptually unimaginative, rhetorically
mediocre, vocally congested, physically graceless, emotionally shallow
and dramatically turgid.  His Iago was a bore; his Hamlet was a
disgrace.  I can, however, afford qualified approval of his Malvolio,
which Robert Brustein accurately pegged as "a passable imitation of a
snooty, self-loving English butler."

Unfortunately, some people are attempting to elevate Beale to major
status.  Those of us who think this absurd will say so.  Of course, the
issue cannot be resolved by counting the numbers on either side.  As a
shrewd Prince once told a cry of players, you must not heed the
"unskillful," but rather the "judicious"--"the censure of the which one
must in your allowance o'erweigh a whole theatre of others."  By that
standard, I do think it significant that the two best theatre critics in
America are both unimpressed by Simon Russell Beale.

As in all such matters, time will be the ultimate arbiter:  inflated
reputations have often been punctured by a wiser posterity.  In his own
day Maurice Evans was widely regarded as a great Shakespearean; now he
is remembered, if at all, as an elocutionary fake.  In this regard, we
can be grateful for archival videotapes, which will allow future
generations to see for themselves what all the excitement was about, and
in some cases to discover that it was about nothing.

4.  Finally you note that I do not earn my living as an actor and
question whether I regard acting as "fun" (bad) or as "a job of work"
(good).  The answer, of course, is both.  In any case, I am paid for my
acting, and have sometimes been paid for my criticism.  You, as you have
acknowledged, are not paid for your critical labors at all.  Having fun?

Regards,
Charles Weinstein

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Anna Kamaralli <
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Date:           Friday, 28 Mar 2003 16:04:25 +1100
Subject: 14.0587 Re: The Real Beale
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0587 Re: The Real Beale

With regard to the comparative usefulness of good and bad reviews in
assessing a production, I was at one time doing some performance
research that required trawling through the Theatre Record, comparing a
large number of reviews.

What I found, generally speaking, was that a bad production would tend
to receive a very uniform condemnation, but that even the productions
that gained the most rave reviews invariably found someone who hated
them. It seems that bad can be universally recognized, while good is
much more in the eye of the beholder. It also means that if someone
wants to prove something by pointing out a bad review, they can always
do it, whatever the generally held opinion of a production or a
performance.

Anna.

>For what it's worth, though, in the New Jersey Renaissance Kingdom we
>have some rather round people who can nevertheless perform amazing
>athletic feats (standing backflips wearing 100 pounds of armor,
>anyone?), and who are holy terrors with a sword.

"You are old, said the youth, as I mentioned before,
And have grown most uncommonly fat.
Yet you turned a back somersault in at the door,
Pray what is the reason for that?"  - Lewis Carroll

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