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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: May ::
First Folio Function
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0931  Wednesday, 18 May 2005

[1]     From:   David Lindley <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 17 May 2005 18:22:16 +0100
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0923 First Folio Function

[2]     From:   Sarah Cohen <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 17 May 2005 14:06:06 -0700
        Subj:   Re: First Folio Function

[3]     From:   Sandra Sparks <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 18 May 2005 03:58:29 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0923 First Folio Function


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Lindley <
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Date:           Tuesday, 17 May 2005 18:22:16 +0100
Subject: 16.0923 First Folio Function
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0923 First Folio Function

Kim Carrell's comment is revealing: 'In each of these examples the
actors used the text that worked the best for them in rehearsal and
performance'.  Fine - but this is a very different kind of claim from
that made by others, which vests an 'untampered with' authority in the
Folio text.  If actors use any text which 'works best' then on what
intellectual basis is one text chosen over another?  If reason is not
allowed to intervene, then might it not be possible that the text which
might work best is that edited by scholar a or b, who has, as every good
editor should, meditated long and hard over the choice of every comma,
every word?  Steve Urkowitz thinks, and no doubt rightly, that making
these choices is not 'rocket science' - nonetheless there might be
something to be said for the knowledge, experience and hard work that
editors bring to these choices as an assistance or suggestion that the
beginning student (or actor) should not necessarily be denied?

David Lindley

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sarah Cohen <
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Date:           Tuesday, 17 May 2005 14:06:06 -0700
Subject:        Re: First Folio Function

Alfred W. Pollard may be a little over-enthusiastic when he talks about
looking over Shakespeare's shoulder. But he does supply a nice example
(from Percy Simpson's book, "Shakespearean Punctuation", Oxford, 1911)
of a First Folio passage whose punctuation suggests a certain dramatic
interpretation.

"The strength of Mr Simpson's treatise lies in his examples, and the
example which effected my conversion was a line and a half from King
Henry V (V.i. 49 sq.) spoken by Pistol, as, in terror of Fluellen's
cudgel, he begins to eat the leek. In the Folio it is printed, quite
shamelessley:

  By this Leeke, I will most horribly reuenge I eate and eate I sweare.

In the Globe Shakespeare there is a colon after 'reuenge' and a comma
after the second 'eate'; but the Folio shows us Fluellen flourishing his
cudgel, and how should Pistol stop while he might count three after
'reuenge,' or even one after 'eate,' when the slightest pause might
bring the cudgel on his head? The absence of stops here can hardly be
called rhythmical, but it is certainly dramatic, and it gives what is
practically a stage direction, which is totally lacking in the modern
rendering."
- Introduction, "Shakespeare's Fight With the Pirates and the Problems
of the Transmission of his Text", A.W. Pollard 1915 (2nd edition,
Cambridge, 1937)

Surely not every idiosyncrasy of punctuation in either the First Folio
or the quartos is a "stage direction" - and I fail to understand people
who worship every semicolon as a relic from Shakespeare's pen - but an
actor looking for inspiration could do worse than to read such texts
with an open mind.

"Bravo to Kim Carrell and Steve Urkowitz!"

Sarah R. Cohen

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sandra Sparks <
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Date:           Wednesday, 18 May 2005 03:58:29 -0400
Subject: 16.0923 First Folio Function
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0923 First Folio Function

Has anyone ever conceived of the idea that, in theaters at the time
these plays were originally written, there might actually have been some
illiterate players, who learned their lines by rote? This was an age
when memories were sharp and quick and necessary, but reading and
writing were still developing, and not yet set in their standards.

So, what purpose would there be in developing an elaborate system of
cues through punctuation in a written text?

If there were any cues at all, I would suggest that they were gestural,
rather than written. The recent film "Stage Beauty" showed something of
the broad gestures used at the time, necessary for getting points across
to noisy and sometimes nearsighted crowds, and so much quicker for
getting points across to actors in the midst of a rehearsal...

Sandra

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