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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: March ::
Variation in EME Performance
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0459  Friday, 11 March 2005

[1]     From:   John Briggs <
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        Date:   Thursday, 10 Mar 2005 15:55:05 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0450 Variation in EME Performance

[2]     From:   David Evett <
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        Date:   Thursday, 10 Mar 2005 13:00:21 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0450 Variation in EME Performance


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Briggs <
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Date:           Thursday, 10 Mar 2005 15:55:05 -0000
Subject: 16.0450 Variation in EME Performance
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0450 Variation in EME Performance

John W. Kennedy wrote:

 >>Marcia Eppich-Harris <
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 >>
 >>Did the plays go through the kind of metamorphosis
 >>that is sometimes out of control on the modern stage?
 >
 >For the most part, we lack direct data. No-one concerned himself with
 >documenting such things at the time, and the living tradition was
 >shattered under the Commonwealth.

There are some clues.  That some texts of pre-1610 plays exist in what
seem to be post-1610 versions (e.g. "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is
divided in acts, with the direction "They sleepe all the Act" [i.e. the
act break]) suggests that there were revivals with or without changes to
the text.  That "Hamlet" and "King Lear" exist in two substantive
versions, and that "Macbeth" is supposed to have been revised by
Middleton, suggests to me that such alterations were (only?) made by
changing the "script".

 >The repertory system also strongly
 >discourages it, as does the fact that there was no person taking the
 >position we now know as "director".

I have pointed out before that for opera, at least, the "poet" or
librettist was expected to direct the stage action.  The film
"Topsy-Turvy" (1999) shows W.S. Gilbert taking this role very seriously.
  I suggested (although I seem to remember being shouted down) that
Shakespeare might have "directed" his own plays.

John Briggs

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
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Date:           Thursday, 10 Mar 2005 13:00:21 -0500
Subject: 16.0450 Variation in EME Performance
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0450 Variation in EME Performance

We do think that when companies toured the hinterlands they got by with
fewer actors (hence cutting of texts and increased doubling of roles),
and presumably less in the way of costumes, props, music, etc. Whether
some of the work those changes required fed back into revivals in the
permanent theaters makes an interesting question.

David Evett

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