2005

Hamlet Questions

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0018  Tuesday, 4 January 2005

From:           John W. Kennedy <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 03 Jan 2005 13:43:51 -0500
Subject: 16.0011 Hamlet Questions
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0011 Hamlet Questions

Michael B. Luskin <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

 >In Act II, scene 2, Hamlet and the player king chat after everyone has
 >exited.  Hamlet must already have thought of the mousetrap stratagem,
 >since he asks the first player to do The Murder of Gonzago.

 >After the first player leaves, in the Oh what a rogue and peasant save
 >speech, Hamlet says, line 616, Hum, I have heard...  He seems to think
 >of the mousetrap the first time here, but he clearly had done so before
 >he talked to the player king about a production of it.  How do we
 >explain this minor discrepancy?

A question that, for once, cannot be addressed by distinction among the
three texts....

In performance, Shakespeare, and Hamlet in particular, generally work
best using strong soliloquy, actively addressing the audience, rather
than imitating, as far as is possible on the stage, a cinema actor whose
words (invariably processed through an echo chamber) are coming out of
nowhere while the actor does his best to look pensive.

When the speech is done in this fashion, the "Hum" (and the preceding
"About my brains", for that matter) are easily enough seen as a mere
change of direction, a return to practicality from the preceding near
hysteria.

 >And what is the speech of some dozen or sixteen lines, where would they
 >be placed, spoken by whom, and what effect was desired?  Are they
 >included in what is given before Claudius calls for lights?  I am not
 >sure why I think so, but I suspect that they were not yet given when the
 >play breaks up.  Since the mousetrap does what it is supposed to, would
 >they have been needed, if in fact they were not already given?

While we need not assume that Hamlet has the idea at the moment of the
"hum", he has certainly had the idea within the scene; that being the
case, he is still improvising at this point. I have always considered
Hamlet to be responsible for part, if not all, of the dialog on second
marriages, in particular, the P.Q.'s wormwood speech.

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Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice"

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0019  Tuesday, 4 January 2005

[1]     From:   Terence Hawkes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 4 Jan 2005 05:44:49 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 16.0010 Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice"

[2]     From:   Melvyn R. Leventhal <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 3 Jan 2005 14:12:27 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0015 Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice"

[3]     From:   Melvyn R. Leventhal <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 3 Jan 2005 19:07:51 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0015 Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice"

[4]     From:   John Drakakis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Tuesday, 4 Jan 2005 14:33:39 -0000
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0015 Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice"


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 4 Jan 2005 05:44:49 -0500
Subject: Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice"
Comment:        SHK 16.0010 Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice"

Frank Kermode has a piece on the Pacino film in the current London
Review of Books, dated 6th January.

T. Hawkes

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Melvyn R. Leventhal <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 3 Jan 2005 14:12:27 EST
Subject: 16.0015 Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice"
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0015 Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice"

Mr. Weiss (and to a lesser extent Mr. Manger) both recognize that if
there is a failing in this rendition it is in the screenplay and the
direction, not in Mr. Pacino.

The problem continues to be that 20th and now 21st century directors
fail to accept Shylock, as a comic villain.  Jay Halio's wonderful
introduction to the Oxford Shakespeare states that Shylock was played
with a "bubble nose," and that the trial scene contains a joke -- the
"biter bit" -- which Elizabethans loved almost as much as jokes about
cuckolds.  As written, the entire play including the trial scene is comedy.

Morality and Miracle plays which anticipated Shakespeare's work, often
contained the devil incarnate.  Can anyone guess how many times Shylock
is referred to as the "devil" in M of V?  Indeed he is even referred to
as the devil incarnate.  And the devil in Morality and Miracle plays was
always grotesque in appearance including having ... yes, a "bubble nose."

And, by the way, in at least one Morality/Miracle play that contained a
Jew as a character (distinct from the devil), he accepts conversion to
Christianity as the proper reward for his misconduct. In other words,
when Shylock says "I am content," he provides a stock answer to his
humiliation.

I have no problem with contemporary productions except that they are not
true to the original.  As "self-proclaimed" experts we should have no
objection to adaptation provided there is full disclosure.

I would love to direct a production of Merchant.  I would attempt to
stage the version that was most likely seen by Elizabethans.  But I
can't expect anyone to sponsor my production.  It is politically
incorrect and does not reflect contemporary sensibilities.  It would be
profoundly anti-Semitic as was the original.  And bardolators would be
aghast at the suggestion that our beloved poet was, as far as
anti-Semitism is concerned, but a product of his time.

Melvyn R. Leventhal

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Melvyn R. Leventhal <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 3 Jan 2005 19:07:51 EST
Subject: 16.0015 Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice"
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0015 Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice"

In my email on this subject of earlier today I refer to Professor Jay L.
Halio's Introduction to the Oxford Shakespeare edition of M of V.
Unfortunately, when I wrote that email I was sitting in my law office
rather than at home in my library, and I did not have the volume in
front of me.  I misquoted him:

--  Professor Halio wrote that the "biter bit" was "a joke that
Elizabethans loved almost as much as jokes about cuckoldry."  (p. 11 of
his introduction)

-- I incorrectly refer to Shylock as originally adorned with a "bubble
nose," (probably the result of a heavy cold I am nursing at this
moment).  What Professor Halio wrote at p. 10 was:

"Shakespeare's initial conception of [Shylock] was essentially as a
comic villain, most likely adorned with a red wig, and beard and a
bottle nose ...."

I apologize to Professor Halio for misquoting him especially since I
greatly admired this Introduction from the date of its publication in 1993.

Melvyn R. Leventhal

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Drakakis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 4 Jan 2005 14:33:39 -0000
Subject: 16.0015 Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice"
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0015 Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice"

Larry Weiss is correct in his complaint that the text of The Merchant in
butchered in Radford's film.  Surely, though, we might expect this in a
modern film.  What is interesting is the way in which Radford produces
the ending. The Lorenzo-Jessica dialogue of 5.1 is radically cut and
displaced into Act 4 where a truncated version (minus the love
exemplars) is placed before the Trial scene.  Then at the end Antonio is
left onstage alone with a letter (that Portia has no given him), and the
scene cuts first to Jessica  pensively wandering along the water's edge
watching fishermen shooting fish with cupid-like bows, and then the
scene cuts to Shylock isolated in the square in front of his house. This
is a tendentious ending, but worth considering in relation to a number
of actual theatre performances, and, of course, in relation to the
Olivier film of the early 70s where the play ends with the intoning of a
Jewish Kadish (and with Jessica as an 'outsider'), and with the 2000
Henry Goodman-Trevor Nunn version where Jessica actually sings the
Kaddish herself.  It seems that in all these instances TS Eliot's 'The
Journey of The Magi' has got in the way of the play.

Happy New Year

John Drakakis

_______________________________________________________________
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
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

RORD Announcements

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0016  Tuesday, 4 January 2005

From:           Peter Greenfield <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 03 Jan 2005 15:48:33 -0800
Subject:        RORD Announcements

As editor of Research Opportunities in Renaissance Drama, I would like
to make a few announcements, not least that we are still accepting
submissions for the 2005 issue (to be published in August), especially
for the Census of Medieval Drama Productions.

Beginning with the 2005 issue, the journal's title will expand to
Research Opportunities in Medieval and Renaissance Drama, reflecting the
equal status medieval drama has had in the journal for some time now, as
well as the journal's link with the Medieval and Renaissance Drama
Society.  I hope that you will find this a reasonable action, despite
it's making an already unwieldy title even longer.  (I eagerly await the
first attempts to pronounce the new acronym, ROMRD.)

The journal has also licensed EBSCO to make back issues available
electronically by subscription, in a bundle of performing arts journals.
  At the same time, EBSCO will continue to support print subscriptions.
  It is our hope that this way the journal's readership will increase,
while it remains financially viable as a print journal for the
foreseeable future.

Reports on productions of medieval and non-Shakespearean Renaissance
drama may still be submitted for the upcoming issue.  Reports may be
reviews by audience members, or reports by directors or others involved
in the production, and are most valuable when they focus on the choices
made by directors, designers and performers in putting early dramatic
texts before contemporary audiences.  Submissions to the medieval census
should be sent to Peter Greenfield, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Department
of English, CMB 1045, University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, WA  98416  USA.
  Submissions to the Renaissance census may be sent to me, or to James
Shaw at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Shakespeare Institute Library, University
of Birmingham, Church Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 6HP, UK.

Peter Greenfield

_______________________________________________________________
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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.

Enfants Terribles Symposium Jan. 8-9

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0017  Tuesday, 4 January 2005

From:           David Crosby <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 3 Jan 2005 09:49:17 -0600
Subject: 15.1919 Enfants Terribles Symposium Jan. 8-9
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.1919 Enfants Terribles Symposium Jan. 8-9

In these pages on October 21, Gary Taylor announced the "Enfants
Terribles" symposium at the University of Alabama for January 8 and 9,
and promised further information. Despite frequent visits to the
department's website and that of its Strode Program in the Renaissance,
and an email request directed to Professor Taylor at the university, I
have not been able to find out any further information.

Can anyone on the list let us know if the symposium is still scheduled,
and, if so, what are the particulars?

Thanks in advance,
David Crosby

_______________________________________________________________
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.

Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice"

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0015  Monday, 3 January 2005

[1]     From:   Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Sunday, 02 Jan 2005 11:47:50 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0010 Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice"

[2]     From:   Stuart Manger <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Sunday, 2 Jan 2005 23:14:23 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0010 Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice"


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 02 Jan 2005 11:47:50 -0500
Subject: 16.0010 Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice"
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0010 Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice"

The Radford M/V is better cinema than "Ocean's Twelve"; but I prefer
William Shakespeare's version of the story.

Radford has cut to play to about one-half to three-fifths of its length,
by my quick guesstimate.  He loses a lot of the fun -- e.g., Portia's
evaluation of her suitors in I.ii; Shylock's Old Testament defense of
thrift; the slapstick between Launcelot and Old Gobbo; and the lyric but
ironic pas de deux between Jessica and Lorenzo at the beginning of Act
V, to name just some that come to mind quickly.

What remains after this butchery has been rendered more politically
correct or just dumbed down.  Portia expresses no preference for suitors
who do not share Morocco's complexion.  Shylock believes that Antonio is
"of good credit" rather than "sufficient."  And, most appalling of all,
the truism that "all that glisters is not gold" has been transmuted to
"all that glistens," presumably because most people get it wrong anyway.
  I suppose we can now expect King John to gild the lily.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stuart Manger <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 2 Jan 2005 23:14:23 -0000
Subject: 16.0010 Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice"
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0010 Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice"

Unlike a number on this list, I HAVE actually seen the film!!

And, yes, Pacino does indeed wipe the cobblestones with the rest of the
cast - except perhaps Irons who has some dignity in resignation. Pacino
is timing, quizzical, brilliant in the early bargaining scene over the
exact bond, underplays the Jew with consummate screen technique, and is
simply effortlessly interesting and complex, with something very real to
say.

[a] there is NO pogrom: it is hustle and bustle on the Rialto, Jew and
Christian - not unlike clips of the NY stock Exchange in rush hour. So
OK it's edgy? So? When isn't a stock exchange frantic and edgy?

[b] keep a careful eye on the supporting Jewish friends of Shylock -
they are increasingly uncomfortable with his intensity and vengeful
obstinacy. They try to restrain him in a very under-stated way.

[c] Lyn Collins is pathetic as Portia, but she and the smirking,
shallow, untroubled, no-depth Bassanio (Joseph Fiennes) absolutely
deserve each other. Oleaginous and miserable.

[d] Radford's pace in the final eight or so minutes is inexplicably
funereal, where it should, be funny and fast. BUT this does have the
effect of pointing up what a mess the play's structure is - IF you think
the play is only about Shylock - which, of course, it isn't.

_______________________________________________________________
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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