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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: February ::
Banned Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0285  Monday, 2 February 2004

[1]     From:   Billy Houck <
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        Date:   Friday, 30 Jan 2004 12:41:59 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0255 Banned Shakespeare

[2]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Friday, 30 Jan 2004 12:55:49 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 15.0255 Banned Shakespeare

[3]     From:   Arthur Lindley <
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        Date:   Saturday, 31 Jan 2004 09:06:56 +0800
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.0255 Banned Shakespeare

[4]     From:   Meg Powers Livingston <
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        Date:   Saturday, 31 Jan 2004 15:40:53 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 15.0238 Banned Shakespeare


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Billy Houck <
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Date:           Friday, 30 Jan 2004 12:41:59 -0500
Subject: 15.0255 Banned Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0255 Banned Shakespeare

I imagine at one time or another, in one place or another, all plays by
Shakespeare have been edited or censored or banned outright due to
political, sexual, or confusing content.

I've read in numerous places that in American public schools in the
early-to-mid-20th century, the most-studied Shakespeare play was Julius
Caesar, due to its lack of overt sexuality.

This year I received many complaints for producing The Laramie Project,
but not a peep over Titus Andronicus.

Billy Houck
Arroyo Grande High School

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Friday, 30 Jan 2004 12:55:49 -0500
Subject: Banned Shakespeare
Comment:        SHK 15.0255 Banned Shakespeare

In Berlin, in 1945, the U. S. military government in the American sector
banned performances of  'Julius Caesar' and 'Coriolanus'.

T. Hawkes

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Arthur Lindley <
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Date:           Saturday, 31 Jan 2004 09:06:56 +0800
Subject: 15.0255 Banned Shakespeare
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.0255 Banned Shakespeare

I recall a controversy a few years ago when school authorities in the
London borough of Islington attempted to ban _Romeo and Juliet_ from the
curriculum on the grounds of 'heterosexism'.  Members in the UK may have
a clearer memory than I of the details.

Arthur Lindley

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Meg Powers Livingston <
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Date:           Saturday, 31 Jan 2004 15:40:53 -0500
Subject: Banned Shakespeare
Comment:        SHK 15.0238 Banned Shakespeare

For basic texts on censorship in public school systems, I would
recommend _What Johnny Shouldn't Read:  Textbook Censorship in America_
by Joan Delfattore and _Banned in the USA:  A Reference Guide to Book
Censorship in Schools and Public Libraries_ by Herbert N. Foerstel.  The
former has a chapter that discusses a number of Shakespeare plays,
including R&J, Hamlet, Lear, Merchant, Twelfth Night, and Macbeth.  The
latter doesn't discuss much Shakespeare specifically but is a good
resource on how textbook censorship happens, with a lot of informative
tables and graphs on how frequently legal challenges occur, where they
originate, and who/what they tend to target.

Anecdotally, I saw a high school performance of R&J last year in my
local area, and the Nurse was virtually silenced.  Nearly all her lines
were cut except in the scene where she reports Tybalt's death, where
only about half her lines were gone.  She was dressed almost like a nun,
and her entire comic demeanor was pretty much done away with.  Mercutio
was also gagged, but not quite as drastically.  What a bleak performance
indeed.

Meg Powers Livingston

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