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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: August ::
Thirteenth Night
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1660  Friday, 22 August 2003

[1]     From:   Jack Heller <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 20 Aug 2003 19:18:18 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1653 Thirteenth Night

[2]     From:   D Bloom <
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        Date:   Thursday, 21 Aug 2003 07:49:12 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1653 Thirteenth Night

[3]     From:   Charles Weinstein <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 20 Aug 2003 22:06:55 -0400
        Subj:   Thirteenth Night

[4]     From:   Graham Hall <
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        Date:   Thursday, 21 Aug 2003 13:58:18 +0000
        Subj:   Cutting Remarks


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jack Heller <
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Date:           Wednesday, 20 Aug 2003 19:18:18 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 14.1653 Thirteenth Night
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1653 Thirteenth Night

>From Brian Willis:

>Go ahead and criticize the verse speaking. Quite a few productions
>deserve it. But the idea and the time of the sacred unalterable text
>seems to have passed quite a long time ago. It's not an artifact. It's a
>script.  And even the best scripts sometimes need to be reconstituted in
>order to suit limits of time, adequacy, and the audience.

I was severely disappointed two years ago by a performance of Coriolanus
that lasted only one hour and fifteen minutes. By my calculation, a
third to a half of the text had been cut. Lots of modestly budgeted
companies still manage to do essentially full-text competent
performances; for such companies, I would include the Kentucky
Shakespeare Festival, the Shakespeare Festival at Tulane, and the South
Carolina Shakespeare Festival. Two of these perform for contributions.

I think at the very least that any advertising of a severely reduced
production should indicate the time duration of the show. At least let
us know what we are(n't) getting.

Jack Heller
Huntington College

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           D Bloom <
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Date:           Thursday, 21 Aug 2003 07:49:12 -0500
Subject: 14.1653 Thirteenth Night
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1653 Thirteenth Night

Brian Willis writes in support of text-cutting:

>As much as I
>enjoy watching a good performance of the complete text, I can also
>understand the reasons for cutting it. Especially in circles below the
>RSC and the top level professional companies.

I don't think the length of the text is the problem with mediocre acting
companies. If they can't do a decent job without cutting, they probably
won't do a decent job with it. Any actor with his or her salt can learn
the lines and maintain the character through a long part. If they can't
-- well, there you are. Perhaps they ought to take up honest work.

(What drives ya nuts is seeing these mediocrities getting good
professional jobs and butchering the characterization when there are
thousands of better actors out there frantically trying to get work.)

Cheers,
 don

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Charles Weinstein <
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Date:           Wednesday, 20 Aug 2003 22:06:55 -0400
Subject:        Thirteenth Night

Those film directors who do preserve generous portions of Shakespeare
prove to be less-than-generous in practice.  Uneasy at making their
spectators listen to all that tedious language, they deploy an arsenal
of gimmicks to alleviate the burden:  frenetic camerawork;
jump-cut-riddled editing; grotesque and distracting production design;
superfluous insets, flashbacks and voice-overs.  In effect, they make
war upon the language, utilizing one technique of word-hatred after
another:  playing music almost constantly over the dialogue; chopping
longer scenes into fragments and scattering them broadcast; turning
word-driven chamber scenes into image-oriented travelogues; casting
pretty but clueless actors who cannot begin to speak their
lines--anything to offset or nullify the language and degrade it into
sound-bites, captions and word-balloons.  Can a profoundly logophobic
medium be an adequate vehicle for Shakespearean drama?

--Charles Weinstein

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Graham Hall <
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Date:           Thursday, 21 Aug 2003 13:58:18 +0000
Subject:        Cutting Remarks

Brian Willis (14.1653) transmogrifies text cutting complaint into a
defence of "sacred unalterable text". As the two are not necessarily
congruent this demeans the original consideration. Whiners, such as me,
who despair at the excesses of the practice, are not invariably votaries
of the Temple of the Sacred Text. There are questions of quantity and of
quality involved.  In challenging the "wisdom of attacking productions"
that cut, it could be thought that he casts aspersions upon the wisdom
of a substantial number of his academic colleagues who must be
conducting such attacks out of a lack of nous, the desire to accumulate
lucre or the avoidance of damnation from the limbo of non-publication.
(Forgive my blasphemy! Surely there's no such thing!)

Citing the Shakespeare Crew as slashers of the First Water cuts no ice
with  reactionary folk of my ilk because we think they had a right to
wield the rubber, possessing, as it were, what m'learned friends would
call the intellectual property to the texts.  Since the King's Men's
collective demise, the Cibbers of the world have taken it upon
themselves to chop till they drop and squeak out their cozier's catches
without so much as a by-your-leave to consideration of place, persons or
time. They flog their dross under the name of Shakespeare (there's a
novelty!) knowing up to the hilt of their guilty quills that camouflage
and deceit are the only method whereby the unsuspecting public will
approach their turnstile.

As to verse speaking, what's to be made of verse and prose crammed and
shuffled willy-nilly thanks to the original lines being butchered?  The
reasons for cutting text may be understandable - even forgivable - but
they are inexcusable when the sign says "By William Shakespeare" and not
"Adapted from William Shakespeare".

Best,
Graham Hall

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