2004

"It makes it more accessible to a modern audience"

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0614  Friday, 5 March 2004

From:           Al Magary <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 5 Mar 2004 02:29:25 -0800
Subject:        "It makes it more accessible to a modern audience"

I have an item saying that the University of North Colorado will be
producing MND with the setting changed:

"Instead of ancient Greece, the modern setting is Las Vegas.

"The Duke's court is the high-roller room of the Casino Athena, of which
Theseus is the owner. The forest is the hot Nevada desert, and the
fairies are showgirls and showboys, [director Tracy] Salter said.

"'It makes it more accessible to a modern audience,' she said."

(There's not much more than this but the whole article is at
http://www.greeleytrib.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20040304/NEWS/103040035&WTID=2208989184906&rs=1&vc=1)
--
How so, I wonder. One sees this accessibility rationale for restaging
quite often.  Reset R&J to a tough city school--but keep the friar who
knows about drugs and have R and J go through a suicide duet in a family
tomb at the end.  Reassign JC to Mussolini's Rome--but fight an ancient
historical battle in Macedonia anyway.  Relocate Macbeth to a corporate
boardroom, or a burger joint in Pennsylvania.  Make Othello chief of
Scotland Yard, with Dessie at home in a Thameside condo.

Does this really help modern audiences "get" Shakespeare, or does it
reinforce the idea that the Bard is old, old, old?  Although the MND
director in Colorado will no doubt make some cuts, the language is not
being rewritten and the wild story in a dreamworld remains Shakespeare's
melange of fairy lore, courtly pageant, Chaucer, Apuleius, Ovid,
chivalric romance, and other things in Sh.'s mental storehouse.

Thus the Las Vegas casino and Henderson County desert will be the
setting for some pretty remarkable things.  As the Fort Greeley paper
says, "Oberon has his servant bring him magic love drops to put in
Titania's eyes as she sleeps and will make her fall in love with the
first thing she sees when she wakes up.  Somehow, Hermia, Demitrius,
Lysander and Helena get mixed up in the prank and wind up falling in
love with the wrong person and shocking their lovers. Mischievous Puck
further complicates things by giving Bottom, a weaver, the head of a
donkey...."

Does resetting time and place make Sh. more accessible to modern
audiences--or just confuse things even more?

Cheers,
Al Magary

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S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
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A Kids' Sci-Fi featuring WS

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0613  Friday, 5 March 2004

From:           Nancy Charlton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 05 Mar 2004 00:32:40 -0800
Subject:        A Kids' Sci-Fi featuring WS

Mentors, a Canadian series shown on the Discovery Kids cable channel,
has an episode titled "Such Stuff as Dreams Are Made On"; it aired
tonight (March 4) in this market. The "info" caption reads: "Norm gets
help on his play from William Shakespeare."

Using a time-travel trope (is that the right term?) the two kids in the
series beam up Wm Shakespeare to help their dad, a playwright, finish a
play. The dilemma of the plot revolves on whether he accepts an offer to
"workshop" the play for six months in New England or stay with his
family.  The kids have introduced WS as being attached to the local
Shakespeare Festival, and to maintain this cover he auditions for and
accepts the role of Prospero. As the dad is leaving, WS tells him that
his son died at age 11 while he was in London working on a play, and
this together with a realization of what it means to be true to thyself,
the dad chooses to stay.

This 30-minute play has many Shakespeare lines, all beautifully spoken.
Tempest, of course, predominates, but also Hamlet, Henry VIII, MND,
Richard II, as I recall.

Very well done. Wish I could have taped it! Wish there were more shows
of this caliber for kids!

Nancy Charlton

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
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DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
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editor assumes no responsibility for them.

A Thought for St. David's Day

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0611  Friday, 5 March 2004

[1]     From:   Sean Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 4 Mar 2004 07:53:45 -0800
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.0597 A Thought for St. David's Day

[2]     From:   Tony Burton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 4 Mar 2004 12:03:57 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0581 A Thought for St. David's Day

[3]     From:   W.L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 04 Mar 2004 12:53:58 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0597 A Thought for St. David's Day


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 4 Mar 2004 07:53:45 -0800
Subject: 15.0597 A Thought for St. David's Day
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.0597 A Thought for St. David's Day

Terence Hawkes's back-story on Falstaff is fascinating.  No doubt he
will also share with us whatever historical rumours he can find about
how many children were born to the wife of an historical Thame of Glamis.

Yrs,
Sean Lawrence.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tony Burton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 4 Mar 2004 12:03:57 -0500
Subject: 15.0581 A Thought for St. David's Day
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0581 A Thought for St. David's Day

Following Terence Hawkes' useful suggestion

 >"to embrace the full implications of the likelihood that the designation
 >'Welsh' carried, in an English context in the early modern period, an
 >unmistakable whiff of potential disorder"

let me suggest that Shakespeare might be expected to have known that the
Welsh called themselves Cymry, and that "Welsh" was originally a Saxon
word meaning "foreigner," (as in "damn furriner") and thus a presumably
disruptive element by definition.

Contemporary entertainment has always played freely with the wildly
imaginary or exaggerated "customs" of real or imaginary foreign places
of origin.  Popping into my mind offhand are some ancient examples:
Robin Williams as Mork from Orc;  Estelle Getty as Sophia Spirelli
Petrillo Weinstock, the grandmother in "Golden Girls", with her
reminiscences of implausibly bloodthirsty customs from her Sicilian
childhood; Bronson Pinchot as Balki Bartokomous, the irrepressible
cousin in "Perfect Strangers" with the even more lunatic folk customs
and religious beliefs of his home island of Mypos.

So, going beyond the sober accuracy of historicist truth and detail,
perhaps there was a tradition of stage Welshmen (or even a distant
memory of cultural stereotyping) that meant "be ready for anything,"
which worked to the advantage of all the characters and casual
references already suggested in this thread.  Is't possible?

Tony Burton

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W.L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 04 Mar 2004 12:53:58 -0500
Subject: 15.0597 A Thought for St. David's Day
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0597 A Thought for St. David's Day

 >A barely palpable dimension of 'Welshness'
 >clearly accrues to Falstaff as a result of his links with Sir John
 >Oldcastle (c1378-1417), Falstaff's 'remote original' as the Arden editor
 >calls him.

writes Terence Hawkes, but even after the history lesson regarding Sir
John Oldcastle (c1378-1417), I am still puzzled as to what a "barely
palpable dimension" might be.  Does Terry mean that Falstaff"s
"Welshness" is not very obvious?  That's simply said.

But now I'd like to know how a "barely palpable dimension [...] clearly
accrues to Falstaff."  On the one hand this "dimension" is almost
imperceptible, but on the other hand it can clearly accrue.

Bill Godshalk

_______________________________________________________________
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.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

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.

Queen Elizabeth I Biographies

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0612  Friday, 5 March 2004

From:           Jack Hettinger <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 4 Mar 2004 12:12:57 -0500
Subject: 15.0598 Queen Elizabeth I Biographies
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.0598 Queen Elizabeth I Biographies

I second Ed Brown's suggestion of Anne Somerset, "Elizabeth I", New
York, St. Martin's Griffin, 1991; a New York Times review called it "the
most comprehensive, the most reliable and the most readable biography of
Elizabeth since Sir John Neale's [of 1934]."

_______________________________________________________________
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.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

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.

Shakespeare, the Famous English Chunk Writer

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0610  Friday, 5 March 2004

[1]     From:   Sean Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 4 Mar 2004 07:51:21 -0800
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.0599 Shakespeare, the Famous English Chunk Writer

[2]     From:   Bob Grumman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Thursday, 4 Mar 2004 16:11:53 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0599 Shakespeare, the Famous English Chunk Writer


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 4 Mar 2004 07:51:21 -0800
Subject: 15.0599 Shakespeare, the Famous English Chunk Writer
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.0599 Shakespeare, the Famous English Chunk Writer

Martin Steward protests that

 >I simply wished to defend the logic of offering Shakespeare to them in
 >time- and resource-efficient chunks, backed up with relevant context and
 >staged/filmed performance.

Unfortunately, his reasoning --- that students have a large number of
interests and there's nothing to particularly recommend Shakespeare as
providing "knowledge, understanding, humanity, happiness,
sophistication, or whatever" --- doesn't provide grounds for teaching
selections, but reasons not to teach Shakespeare at all.

I can understand a desire to teach less Shakespeare with more depth, but
only because I think Shakespeare worth teaching.  Otherwise, the whole
issue becomes rather moot.

Yrs,
SKL.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bob Grumman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 4 Mar 2004 16:11:53 -0500
Subject: 15.0599 Shakespeare, the Famous English Chunk Writer
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0599 Shakespeare, the Famous English Chunk Writer

 >John Knapp says that he is "shocked" that I and other would express
 >
 >>opinions on the inabilities of 16 or
 >>17 yr olds to read Shakespeare other than in easily-digestible chunks!
 >>These are the very same 17 yr olds who can out-program any of us, some
 >>of whom make games of trying to outwit Microsoft.  Yet, if I read your
 >>opinions correctly, the poor dears can't be expected to read for basic
 >>understanding some of the world's best theater.

Note to John Knapp (whose post I apparently missed).  It's only a select
few 17-year-olds who can out-program us.  And, guess what?  It's not
because they had all kinds of thorough programing courses forced on
them, but because they went out and learned how to program on their own,
just as their literary-minded fellow students would read Shakespeare on
their own.  As I did AFTER I graduated from high school, where I had
four full Shakespeare plays forced on me that I got zilch out of.  I
would imagine, by the way, that many fewer 17-year-olds are able to read
Shakespeare with profit than are able to program effectively, because it
takes a kind of maturity that programming doesn't.

--Bob G.

_______________________________________________________________
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.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

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.

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