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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: August ::
Thirteenth Night
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1642  Tuesday, 19 August 2003

[1]     From:   Graham Hall <
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        Date:   Monday, 18 Aug 2003 14:39:58 +0000
        Subj:   Hot in question

[2]     From:   Sam Small <
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        Date:   Monday, 18 Aug 2003 21:59:05 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1631 Thirteenth Night


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Graham Hall <
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Date:           Monday, 18 Aug 2003 14:39:58 +0000
Subject:        Hot in question

Charles Weinstein (14.1631) is correct to pose the question:

>[...]Tell me: How much of Shakespeare's text may a film excise before
>it ceases to be a valid production of the play?  It's a question
>that Professors of English Literature should be particularly
>interested in asking."

It's a theme to which I warmed earlier this year on SHAKSPER in respect
of live performance. I offered a rule of thumb which might be applied.
There  have been occasions of late when the extent of cutting text alone
- usually  to reduce cast - is a disgrace but is exacerbated by
prolonged, irrelevant and daft "artistic invention" designed, one
suspects, to pad out the paucities  and allow quadrupling actors to
change costume. I believe there is a case  for legal action against
these blighters. Boycotting the company is another  (albeit weak)
option. Chucking rotten veg at 'em could ease the frustration (but could
damage the screen in the case of cinema/TV).

 It's a problem that is on the increase.

Best,
Graham Hall

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sam Small <
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 >
Date:           Monday, 18 Aug 2003 21:59:05 +0100
Subject: 14.1631 Thirteenth Night
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1631 Thirteenth Night

I too saw at least some of the awful production to which Charles
refers.  It was spiritless whilst trying to be world-inclusive as if
lecturing the pained viewers that the bard can travel.  The diction and
delivery of the lines was the one element that seemed to have had no
time at all spent on it.  Instead we had garish lighting and sweaty
makeup better suited for a Lagos market place in summer.  Charles was
too kind.

Without doubt the finest medium for Shakespeare in 2003 is television.
The theatre constantly produces barrages of inscrutable Elizabethan
banter, whilst the cinema is obsessed with what something looks like
rather than what it sounds like, hence 50 to 60 percent of the lines are
cut.  Television is never as expensive as feature film; a talented
company need not be tied up for weeks or months; television's pedigree
is in soaps, therefore the drama of words and body language is second
nature; big stars are more likely to commit to a week's shoot for a TV
production than months in a theatre as well as being glad of the
prestige it offered their careers.

Television can divide long, complete plays into several parts for easy
programming therefore a well produced TV production need not cut any
lines that have a direct bearing on important aspects of the play.
Dreadful films like Lurhman's R+L simply give the plot.  Because it is
visual at the expense of words the poetry is lost.  And the poetry's the
thing.

SAM SMALL

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