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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: March ::
Variation in EME Performance
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0435  Wednesday, 9 March 2005

From:           Marcia Eppich-Harris <
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Date:           Tuesday, 08 Mar 2005 10:31:34 -0600
Subject:        Variation in EME Performance

I sent this query during Hardy's absence but didn't see if appear as of
yet, which is thoroughly understandable-being the least of his concerns-
with his injuries. I am resubmitting the question, though in case it
just got lost in the rubble, or never came through at all (entirely
possible), as I am interested in hearing your thoughts:

Dear Shakespeareans,

I love going to the theatre more than just about any extracurricular
activity I do; however, I almost always find wildly different variations
when I see plays multiple times. What I mean is I've seen Romeo and
Juliet four different times in different venues with different casts and
crews and they have all been extraordinarily different. This is an
understandable observation and I'm sure you've had the same
experience-each production is going to be different from another,
because of different directors, different actors, different settings,
whatever. My question, though, is whether or not we know anything about
this kind of potential variation in Early Modern England. Did The
Chamberlain's Men do the same version of "X play" as they did as The
King's Men later on? Did the plays go through the kind of metamorphosis
that is sometimes out of control on the modern stage?

I mean no offense to those who direct, act in, or participate in staging
Shakespeare. I just wonder if the Renaissance players set any precedent
for this type of variation.  Obviously, performance of Shakespeare has
evolved through time, but performance critics are often so staunch about
the plays being meant for the stage (i.e., not for reading), that I
wonder if they are always thinking about HOW they were meant to be
performed. In my own personal experience (and yes, I'm only speaking for
my experience), productions that attempt to make Shakespeare "relevant"
are usually the worst I have seen. I think the words and the stories
speak for themselves, and with good direction and good acting, that's
all that's necessary.

But please, let me know if there is a precedent for variation on the EME
stage.

Thanks!
Marcia Eppich-Harris

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