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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: October ::
Clocks and Bells
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1741  Thursday, 13 October 2005

[1] 	From: 	Steve Sohmer <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 12 Oct 2005 09:59:02 EDT
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1732 Clocks and Bells

[2] 	From: 	Fran Teague <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 12 Oct 2005 11:22:38 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1732 Clocks and Bells

[3] 	From: 	Michael Egan <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 12 Oct 2005 06:40:51 -1000
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1732 Clocks and Bells

[4] 	From: 	Alan Jones <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 12 Oct 2005 18:28:27 +0100
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1732 Clocks and Bells


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Steve Sohmer <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 12 Oct 2005 09:59:02 EDT
Subject: 16.1732 Clocks and Bells
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1732 Clocks and Bells

Dear Friends,

I sense we've rung out the subject of clocks and bells.

As Holger and M. Egan note, there are figurative references to time, 
darkness, bells, and such in Shakespeare; on that I'm sure we can all 
agree. But there are also quite literal references, many of which have 
not been generally recognized. I'll cite a couple.

In Macbeth 2.1 Banquo and Fleance come onstage with a torch before them 
... signaling night to the audience, so the footnotes tell us. But how 
dark is it? Well, Fleance says "the moon is down" -- so it's mighty 
dark. Then Banquo says, "and she goes down at twelve." As it happens, on 
the night upon which Shakespeare (and Holinshed) believed that Duncan 
was murdered, indeed the moon set at twelve.

In the Q2 Romeo and Juliet at about line 2500, Old Capulet says, 'the 
second cock hath crowed. The Curphew bell hath roong, tis three 
o'clock.' This is a fair statement, given the hour of first light in 
Verona in mid-July, when the city gates would be opened and the Angelus 
sung. But in Q1 -- the so-called bad quarto, the hour has been corrected 
to four o'clock. This falls at about line 2000. If a performance of the 
bad quarto had begun ca. 2PM, the local steeple bells would have chimed 
four before this speech. Whoever corrected Shakespeare's 'three' to 
'four' didn't recognize how meticulous he was being about time and hour 
in R&J, but wanted Capulet's line to make sense to an audience which had 
heard local bells ring four.

Hope this helps.

Steve

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Fran Teague <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 12 Oct 2005 11:22:38 -0400
Subject: 16.1732 Clocks and Bells
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1732 Clocks and Bells

I'm a bit surprised that no one has mentioned the work done on this 
topic by Bruce Smith in his wonderful book, The Acoustic World of Early 
Modern England. Matthew Steggle's review in Renaissance Forum 
<http://www.hull.ac.uk/renforum/v4no2/steggle.htm>calls the book 
"magnificent," and rightly so.

Fran Teague
http://www.english.uga.edu/~fteague

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Michael Egan <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 12 Oct 2005 06:40:51 -1000
Subject: 16.1732 Clocks and Bells
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1732 Clocks and Bells

I'm grateful to Holger Schott Syme for setting me right about my 
positivism, intellectual prejudices, etc. His tut-tutting recalls Kuhn's 
work on paradigms and how glacially they shift.

In brief: Yes, I do mean to suggest that Richard II, Part One was 
conceived originally for performance outdoors. I see nothing 
theatrically 'unprofessional' about that. I'll go further and hazard the 
guess (but an informed one) that the play was likely written or adapted 
for the extended provincial tour of 1592-4, when the London theatres 
were closed due to plague. Why Mr Syme should find any of this 'wildly 
unlikely' beats me. I guess it just doesn't fit his paradigm.

Similarly, yes, a real horse is the only option imaginable--read the 
scene again, please, and tell me how else it could have been staged. 
This is not to say that modern directors haven't ingeniously solved the 
problem. In Boston 2002, e.g., Michael Hammond of Shakespeare & Co. did 
a sort of Equus with a human actor, very effective but theatrically 
anachronistic. A pantomime horse would also be anachronistic and indeed 
ludicrous in this context, especially as it enters with a rider on its 
back. In this context we also need to keep in mind the sdd. in V.iii 
when two large armies march and countermarch.

My use of the term 'set' wasn't meant to imply anything other than the 
playing area.

--Michael Egan

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Alan Jones <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 12 Oct 2005 18:28:27 +0100
Subject: 16.1732 Clocks and Bells
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1732 Clocks and Bells

Martin Steward writes:

 >Steve Sohmer wants to satisfy me that bells might intrude on an audience

 >attending a performance at the Bankside Globe.
 >
 >But I never doubted that these bells existed and that they might be 
heard within the confines of the playhouse (I work a stone's throw from 
the Globe and its surrounding places of worship).

Can anyone who has attended a performance in the New Globe tell us how 
audible and disturbing they found the church bells and other local noise 
such as traffic? Aircraft, obviously and horribly: but I wonder whether 
much else at a lesser height penetrates the walls.

A long time ago I considered all the sound effects in the plays, whether 
specified in the Q or F stage directions or clearly implied in the 
actors' lines, and attempted to establish in detail the means by which 
they could have been created. I seem to remember that the bell 
requirements could have been met by one small bell (making a "ding" 
rather than a "dong") and one large, with a rope attached to the clapper 
so that the bell could be tolled by hand or jangled irregularly (as 
perhaps for the alarum demanded by Macduff).

Alan Jones

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