2003

Re: Woodstock

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1463  Friday, 18 July 2003

From:           Michael Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 17 Jul 2003 10:36:23 -1000
Subject:        1 Richard II/Woodstock

I would like to thank the many people who kindly responded to my request
for feedback on my conjecturally emended final scene for 1 Richard II/
Woodstock. I'm working through the suggestions and will certainly
incorporate some, with appropriate acknowledgements. Perhaps Hardy will
leave it up a little longer so others can comment too.

In the meantime, I invite interested readers to rethink the play while
making the assumption that it was written by Shakespeare some time
before he considered its sequel. It thus is and is not an introduction
to 2 Richard II. The will find for instance a huge number of
echoes/pre-echoes with the rest of his corpus: I have counted at least
1,500 good ones (and not just exclamations such as 'By the Mass!' or
'Let's hie us home.').

I also note Ward Elliott's commonsensical approach: word counting
suggests Middleton (to him) but history trumps mere numbers:

"Woodstock got 23 rejections in the Shakespeare Clinic's tests, 20 more
than the two most-rejected on Shakespeare's own core plays.  It seems a
highly unlikely Shakespeare ascription.  It is loaded with
Middleton-trademark contractions like I'm and you're, but seems an
unlikely Middleton ascription on external evidence, since Middleton is
thought to have been no more than 15 years old when Woodstock appeared."
Of course, Mac Jackson and David Lake do their own stylistic count and
come up with Samuel Rowley. So what exactly do these numbers mean and to
what extent can they be applied to so protean a writer as Shakespeare?
It's clear that 1 Richard II is not, say, Lear, but then why should it
be?  Shakespeare was various and flexible enough to compose
stylistically in many ways and 1 Richard II is one of them--among my
discoveries is that it was written for the provincial tour and
presentation before rural audiences. This and other external and
internal literary/historical facts suggest that he was indeed its
author, and must trump any 'intuitions' or superficial judgments about
style.

I hope my book will be out in the new year and look forward to many an
interesting discussion.

Regards,
Michael Egan

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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.
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Request for Opinions

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1462  Friday, 18 July 2003

From:           Philip Eagle <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           17 Jul 2003 20:58:56 +0100
Subject:        Request for Opinions

Dear all,

I'm currently doing a piece of coursework for my Information Science
degree to demonstrate my online research abilities, and the topic I've
chosen for it is current academic attitudes to the Bankside Globe. I'm
not asking you to do my research for me, I'll be doing my own tracking
of material in formal sources. But I was wondering if the people on this
list could give me their impressions of the general atmosphere, of what
opinions are getting traded in common rooms rather than published in
print. Thank you very much in advance.

Philip Eagle

_______________________________________________________________
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.
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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: Hepburn as Cleopatra

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1460  Friday, 18 July 2003

From:           W.L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 17 Jul 2003 14:03:09 -0400
Subject: 14.1451 Hepburn as Cleopatra
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1451 Hepburn as Cleopatra

>I was fascinated to learn that Katherine Hepburn had played Cleopatra
>(Stratford, Connecticut, 1960).

I saw the production, but I don't remember very much about it.  I was
actually more intrigued by Robert Ryan as an over-the-hill, stumble-bum
Antony.  Ryan seemed perfect for the part. But I was initially shocked
by Hepburn as Cleopatra.

Before seeing Hepburn and Ryan, I had a difficult time imagining
Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra as other than heroic and glamorous.
But after seeing this production -- after reflecting upon it -- after my
initial shock, I came to believe that this production was right on
target.  Cleopatra and Antony are over the hill.  They are middle aged,
and neither of them are going to conquer or captivate young Caesar.

This production marked scene changes by dropping an insignia from above.

Yours,
Bill Godshalk

_______________________________________________________________
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DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
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Re: Pericles

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1461  Friday, 18 July 2003

From:           Bill Lloyd <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 17 Jul 2003 15:25:49 EDT
Subject: 14.1454 Re: Pericles
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1454 Re: Pericles

Sigh... it must be nice to be part of that elite who can appreciate
Shakespeare's poetry, unlike those who contaminate the ether by asking
who wrote it, or how was it printed, or which text is more correct. Tue
Sorenson disagrees with the views put forth in the Titus-Peele thread,
but deleted most if it unread. Romantic intuition?

Poetry is wonderful, but it is written by actual people using real pens
and real paper-- that is, there's a physical and factual element to it.
Tue Sorenson is "98% certain that Pericles is all Shakespeare" and says
"we know [the Oxford additional passages] aren't Shakespeare, and
Shakespeare shouldn't be messed with-- at least not if it's published
explicitly as Shakespeare".  Published explicitly as Shakespeare-- is
Pericles Q1609 meant or the Oxford ed?  If the former, it was indeed
published explicitly as by Shakespeare-- but so were A Yorkshire Tragedy
and The London Prodigal, and all three were omitted from the 1623 Folio,
so the external evidence for Shakespeare's authorship, while it cannot
be ignored, is less than 98% certain. As to the latter, I seem to recall
that the Oxford Augmented Pericles was offered as an admittedly radical
experiment-- what if we attempted as complete a reconstruction as
possible making maximum use of all available materials? -- and a
diplomatic reprint of quarto was also offered for those who prefer their
Shakespeare garbled but pure.

Actually it was in the service of recovering as much of Shakespeare's
poetry as possible that Wilkins' Tie-in Novelization was used-- there
are some pretty Shakespearean-seeming passages that appear in the novel
but not in the play. How Sorenson "knows" that these passages aren't
Shakespeare is a nice question, since the novel is explicitly a report
of the play as staged, and generations of scholars have agreed that the
text of the Pericles quarto is corrupt [though not on why or how or to
what extent].  In fact it is due to the love of Shakespeare and an
appreciation of his verse that questions have arisen concerning the
first acts of [e.g.] Titus, 1HenVI, Pericles, and parts of Henry VIII
and Timon. "Those who study plays want to know who wrote them." -- S.
Schoenbaum.  Wouldn't one feel silly for having swooned over the first
two acts of Pericles, if after one had died and gone to heaven it was
revealed that they had been written by a whore-beating pimp instead of
the Swan of Avon?  Yes, I'm indulging myself here, but my point is that
the study of the authorship of Pericles [for one] springs from a real
interest in the "substance of the poetry".  Interpretive analysis that
is based on a false premise-- a mistaken idea of who the author is-- is
worth far less that well-informed interpretive analysis. Technical
analysis logically precedes interpretive analysis.

Mac Jackson's book "Defining Shakespeare: Pericles as a Test Case",
forthcoming from Oxford UP in Nov 2003 should demonstrate to the
open-minded not only the how but the why of authorship studies.

As to the New Cambridge Pericles, it no doubt possesses some merit-- if
only as a minority report-- and it was not I who called it "the worst
edition of Shakespeare in living memory".  But here are a few more
critical notices of it I've come across in the last week. Jeffrey
Gantz's review can be found at
http://www.weeklywire.com/ww/08-17-98/boston_books_1.html.  And it is
one of the editions discussed in the essay "'To foster is not always to
perceive": Feminist perspectives in editing Pericles" which can be found
in the recently published collection "In Arden: Editing Shakespeare:
Essays in Honour of Richard Proudfoot", edited by Ann Thompson and
Gordon McMullan. I'd further like to recommend the whole book-- many
intelligent and reflective essays on editing and related topics.

Bill Lloyd

_______________________________________________________________
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.
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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: Colour-Blind Casting

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1459  Friday, 18 July 2003

[1]     From:   C. David Frankel <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 17 Jul 2003 12:44:09 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.1446 Re: Colour-Blind Casting

[2]     From:   Thomas Larque <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 17 Jul 2003 18:19:29 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1446 Re: Colour-Blind Casting

[3]     From:   Chris Kelsey <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 17 Jul 2003 12:22:11 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 14.1446 Re: Colour-Blind Casting

[4]     From:   M Yawney <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 17 Jul 2003 10:34:31 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1446 Re: Colour-Blind Casting

[5]     From:   Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 18 Jul 2003 11:03:17 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1446 Re: Colour-Blind Casting

[6]     From:   Carol Morley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 18 Jul 2003 13:29:58 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1446 Re: Colour-Blind Casting


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           C. David Frankel <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 17 Jul 2003 12:44:09 -0400
Subject: 14.1446 Re: Colour-Blind Casting
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.1446 Re: Colour-Blind Casting

Sam Small asks (and answers):

>Do we tolerate a hugely fat Romeo?  A desperately ugly Juliet?  A 20 yearr old Polonius?  A male >Ophelia? Well, no.  The audience would find the casting incredible.

In fact, we do -- depending on who "we" is (or was).  Casting, like
every other aspect of theatre, is a matter of conventions -- and these
conventions are not fixed.  Granted, it takes time to change
conventions, and sometimes conventions die hard (and, often, more than
one set of conventions exist at a given time).

Theatre, after all, functions through metaphorical transformation:  the
assertion that this building (The Globe, for instance) equals Verona or
that the actor (David Garrick, for instance, and not notably slender)
equals Romeo.

Surely, some plays, in some production circumstances, offer more
difficulties in shifting the audience's conventional expectations (that
is, there ability to separate actor from character and see both) -- but
you can only shift conventions by actually shifting them.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Larque <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 17 Jul 2003 18:19:29 +0100
Subject: 14.1446 Re: Colour-Blind Casting
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1446 Re: Colour-Blind Casting

>This has been aired before on this list but not quite in this slant.
>The politically correct lefties will come tramping out declaring that
>skin colour matters not - in anything - in any way - in any play.  It's
>nonsense, of course.  Skin colour is a physical attribute - like age,
>gender, height, and weight.  A director casts his play or film and
>selects the attributes that best suit the script.  There is nothing more
>complicated than that.  This whole question is one of credibility and
>must be judged for that alone.  Do we tolerate a hugely fat Romeo?  A
>desperately ugly Juliet?  A 20 yearr old Polonius?  A male Ophelia?
>Well, no.  The audience would find the casting incredible.

I slightly agree with some of the points made by Sam Small, but in a
broader sense I do not.  I may be left of centre, but I'm not
particularly politically correct, and I do notice all of the attributes
that Small lists when I'm watching an actor in a play, and I agree that
my response is changed and altered significantly by them.  The casting
may be colour-blind or gender-blind or shape-blind, but an audience
never is.

The question is not whether I notice these castings against type, but
whether I really care.  I didn't see Simon Russell Beale's "hugely fat"
Hamlet, but many people did and a lot of them enjoyed it, and various
actors in the 19th century played him when aged between 60 and 80, which
must equally break Small's rules.  I have seen plain and even ugly (in
my opinion) actresses in romantic leads, some of whom have given very
good performances (the stout and middle-aged Miriam Margolyes acting
Dickens's more attractive younger women in her "Dickens's Women" show or
in selections of scenes that she gives, has to be seen to be believed -
her wonderful voice and character acting overcome any awkwardness about
her appearance).  I have seen student productions of Hamlet (with every
character aged about 18 - including Polonius), and I have seen all-male
Shakespeares (such as the Globe Twelfth Night with a male Viola, a male
Olivia, and a male Maria).

As Sam says I am fully aware, as a member of the audience, that these
things are being done, and sometimes they feel wrong (the most horrible
things that I have seen at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival have been
productions by middle aged and elderly actors pretending to be teenagers
- rather less successfully than Margoyles), but the things that upset me
are not necessarily the things that would upset other people.

If Sam Small objects to male Ophelias, then he would obviously have
hated the original production, but Shakespeare's audiences presumably
loved it.  The fact that I often enjoy a film or play much more if it
stars an attractive young woman, probably says a lot more about me than
about the casting director (I wondered rather guiltily after seeing the
film Lilya-4-ever whether I would have empathised with the lead
character as much if she had been an unattractive overweight and glum
teenage girl driven into prostitution rather than a sparkling,
attractive, and lively character - although in reality people don't
suffer less just because you find them less friendly and attractive.  I
also wonder why I find it easier to empathise with young female rather
than young male characters in films and plays - even when they are far
too young for me to find them sexually attractive [whether consciously
or subconsciously] which might otherwise be the most likely
biological/psychological explanation of such a gender-bias).

In short, Sam Small may reject with contempt all of the castings that he
sets out above, and there are some castings that I too would find
unpleasant or unworkable and which would cause me to respond badly to an
actor or a production, but the important point is that Sam's list is
different from mine, and that none of the examples that he gives would
be seen as unforgivable by everybody.  A casting director casting
against type or against realism is making a decision which does heavily
affect his production, but as long as there are enough members of the
audience who are willing to accept or even enjoy the change then that
makes it perfectly acceptable and worthwhile.  I suppose that a major
part of this is whether the production is breaking the "rules" that the
audience that it has attracted expect to see.  Modern stage productions
of Shakespeare routinely cast non-white people in Renaissance English
roles, and most people seeing those productions seem to accept that, but
we would not be equally forgiving (at this period in history) of a
realistic historical film or documentary that cast Henry VIII with a
black actor.

Just about everybody who attends a student production or a production by
a single-sex school, or a production by a woman-only company, or a
production by a company using Shakespearean single-sex casting to
celebrate the tradition, would accept the fact that the characters might
be played by actors of the wrong sexes and ages.  Pantomime traditions
even seem to make this acceptable in light-hearted comedic roles in
otherwise naturalistic plays and films (so that Wilde's Lady Bracknell
or Mrs. Crummles from a recent film of Nicholas Nickleby can be played
as pantomime dames by men, without much in the way of objections), but
just think if a naturalistic film cast a young female actor as Fagin in
Oliver Twist, that would feel wrong to most.

It is true that these castings against the grain will lose the
sympathies of some audience members, perhaps even a sizable number in
some cases, but then this is equally true of any directorial choice.
Think of the number of people who denounced Branagh's "Henry V" for not
being enough like Laurence Olivier's, and on the other hand the number
who denounced him for being too like Olivier.  Think about the number of
people who would be repulsed by abstract scenery, and the number of
people who dislike excessive stage realism.  Should Shakespeare only
ever be staged in "traditional dress"? - my grandmother thinks so, but I
disagree:  I like to see a range of productions of different kinds - and
if it should, then is the "traditional dress" for Shakespeare's "Julius
Caesar" togas or doublet and hose, or even some combination of both (as
we see in the contemporary portrait of "Titus")?

The main problem with Sam Small's posting is that he is trying to
establish a set of norms as unbreakable that are really based on his own
cultural and personal (and perhaps even generational) prejudices.  I
would love to have seen a Henry Irving spectacular production of a
Shakespeare play, with its "realistic" scenery and pretensions to
"historical" accuracy, its cast of hundreds, with live animals, and the
like - but I know very well that many of the conventions that Irving
used would grate horribly with my own expectations of what a Shakespeare
production should be like.  Since I'm used to filmic realism, a lot of
Nineteenth Century "realistic" scenery would presumably look like a
wobbly wooden cut-out (which is in fact what much of the scenery was).
As I've said before, an exceptionally elderly Hamlet (as was common in
the 19th Century) would cause me much greater difficulty in suspending
my disbelief than did Nonso Anozie's black Lear in his twenties (which
would doubtless have been entirely unacceptable to the very same
Victorian audiences who watched elderly Hamlets with no problems).  You
could accuse the Victorians of being racist, or me of being ageist, and
both these things might be true to an extent - but the truth is that we
have just developed our expectations in different environments, and find
different things acceptable.

There are always things which remain difficult or unacceptable, but
these things change - both between individuals, and between historical
periods.  Sam Small may be repulsed by all failures to cast to type or
realistically (except that he too apparently makes exceptions, any bets
that some members of this list would find his own use of this convention
in his apparently abstract play "incredible" and unwatchable?).  I think
he just has to accept that as long as the director likes it, the actors
are willing to do it, and enough of the audience is willing to accept
it, or even to applaud it, then these things can be done, should be
done, and good luck to everybody!  If these practices were really as
unacceptable as Small claims, then the companies that used them would
very quickly have their productions panned, their audiences disappear,
and go out of business.  Since this hasn't happened in many cases,
Small's opinions are apparently more personal and less universal than he
imagines.

Thomas Larque.
"Shakespeare and His Critics"
http://shakepsearean.org.uk

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Kelsey <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 17 Jul 2003 12:22:11 -0500
Subject: Re: Colour-Blind Casting
Comment:        SHK 14.1446 Re: Colour-Blind Casting

Sam,

Are we to ignore the original cast members of Shakespeare's plays? as a
gauge of Shakespearean production? Juliet might not have been
"desperately ugly," but Juliet was certainly not played by a
thirteen-year-old girl, let alone any girl or woman--which would seem to
rough up against any stipulation that physical characteristics should
greatly sway casting. That is, if we are to take the history of
Shakespearean productions into consideration as we debate their
contemporary permutations.

You've mentioned that "context" of a play may allow for variations in
casting. It seems that for us to accept the original productions of
Shakespeare we must then also include the political context surrounding
the production of a play. In Shakespeare's time, women could not act in
these companies. Hence, men played those roles.

In our time, significantly different sorts of political contexts
influence how we produce, perform and VIEW a theatrical production. Are
we not allowed to take these greater contexts into consideration?
Certainly you have--at least for viewing.

Christopher Kelsey

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           M Yawney <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 17 Jul 2003 10:34:31 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 14.1446 Re: Colour-Blind Casting
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1446 Re: Colour-Blind Casting

Sam Small says:

>Skin colour is a physical
>attribute - like age,
>gender, height, and weight.  A director casts his
>play or film and
>selects the attributes that best suit the script.
>There is nothing more
>complicated than that.  This whole question is one
>of credibility and
>must be judged for that alone.  Do we tolerate a
>hugely fat Romeo?  A
>desperately ugly Juliet?  A 20 yearr old Polonius?
>A male Ophelia?
>Well, no.  The audience would find the casting
>incredible.

This ignores that much of these matters are culturally conditioned. We
see leading ladies in their 30s playing ing


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