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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: September ::
Performing Angelo
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1543  Saturday, 17 September 2005

[1] 	From: 	Arnie Perlstein <
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	Date: 	Thursday, 15 Sep 2005 11:05:42 -0400
	Subj: 	Re Performing Angelo

[2] 	From: 	Julia Griffin <
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	Date: 	Thursday, 15 Sep 2005 15:48:01 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1532 Performing Angelo

[3] 	From: 	Abigail Quart <
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	Date: 	Thursday, 15 Sep 2005 22:55:15 -0400
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 16.1532 Performing Angelo


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Arnie Perlstein <
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Date: 		Thursday, 15 Sep 2005 11:05:42 -0400
Subject: 	Re Performing Angelo

"Any character who addresses his penis onstage is a "comedic" 
character....What I keep wondering is if Elizabethan propmasters had 
some sort of device by which the swelling under Angelo's robes could be 
made readily apparent to the audience. We know Angelo is hiding 
something from Isabella because he has turned away from her, as 
evidenced by her twice asking him to turn back, and his strangled 
utterances bidding her to go and come back another time."  Abigail, that 
is absolutely brilliant! That one flew right under my radar screen, but 
of course that is exactly what is going on.

"Professor Martha England of Queens College, CUNY, who insisted we 
remember that the above three characters were very young, otherwise 
their mistakes would not be forgivable." Abigail, where is the evidence 
that the Duke is young? I agree that Angelo and Isabella are, but I see 
the Duke as a middle aged Lothario/Machiavel, sort of like Joseph 
Heller's protagonist Bobby Slocum in Something Happened.

"In fact, Measure would be a tragedy instead of a comedy if the Duke 
didn't run into Isabella at the prison. It's quite amazing. He's dressed 
as a monk.  She's dressed as a nun. He's walking out of the cells, she's 
walking toward them...they pass. As near as I can tell from the dialog 
in that scene, the Duke almost leaves the stage entirely (because 
Isabella has the chance to complete her dialog with the Provost) and 
then doubles right back to speak to the Provost again, himself.  It's 
like lightning strikes him but it takes a second for him to process it. 
  BUT AFTER THE DUKE SEES THE NUNLET, ALL HIS PLANS CHANGE. He just 
refuses to admit why." Abigail, that is very ingenious close reading, 
but, with all due respect, I believe your initial premise is 180 degrees 
off, and therefore you've got the Duke absolutely backwards. To my mind, 
he was expecting Isabella there, in fact, that was the whole point of 
his leaving and coming back disguised, i.e., so that he could get her to 
come back to Vienna, so he could get close to her without her knowing 
it's him! Why? Because, I'd argue, they know each other from before, and 
their last encounter left a rather negative impression on her. Seen that 
way, the whole play is actually a very dark screwball comedy-He's 
looking to win her back, and the fate of Vienna is just a cover story. 
He has just come up with a very peculiar/over-the-top way of doing it!

"I've always thought Isabel's visit to her doomed brother Claudio is a 
comic scene, although I've never been able to convince anyone else." 
I'm with you 100%, Bob! "Although Claudio at first clucks 
sympathetically with her refusal even to imagine such a thing, soon he's 
trying to sell her on the idea. Although it's always played solemn as 
stone, I believe it was written to be funny, that "Death is a fearful 
thing" is a comic pivot line something like Benedick's "Man is a giddy 
thing"-a lame general abstraction about nature to justify one's own 
less-than-perfect self, and, of course, human weakness is the stuff of 
comedy." That is pitch perfect, Bob, it fits with my sense of MFM as a 
very dark screwball comedy.

Arnie Perlstein
Weston, Florida

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Julia Griffin <
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Date: 		Thursday, 15 Sep 2005 15:48:01 -0400
Subject: 16.1532 Performing Angelo
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1532 Performing Angelo

I don't see why we should imagine the Duke and Angelo as particularly 
young: the Duke speaks of laws let slip for 14 years (Claudio says 19), 
and seems to imply that this is his fault; Angelo should have married 
Mariana 5 years ago, so he isn't a baby.  Whether you think he'd be 
forgivable at any age is, of course, a personal thing.

For the visit of Isabella to Claudio: I think the first part of the 
scene is often played with (if not for) laughs: "Thanks, dear Isabel" 
can hardly help being funny, in its context (if all I had to do was die 
for you, I'd be only too happy); and perhaps Isabella's fear that 
Claudio might prefer "six or seven winters" of life to her honour (how 
old does she think he is?) has its humorous side too.  But "death is a 
fearful thing" - that doesn't seem so promising.  Timor mortis conturbat 
me.  "To lie in cold obstruction and to rot" - giggling, anyone?  It 
might get a laugh on Olympus, but probably not down here.

Julia

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Abigail Quart <
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Date: 		Thursday, 15 Sep 2005 22:55:15 -0400
Subject: 16.1532 Performing Angelo
Comment: 	RE: SHK 16.1532 Performing Angelo

Alan Rickman is too old to play Angelo. If you want to see the comedy in 
the scene, cast Leo Di Caprio as Angelo. Cast Jude Law. Cast Joaquin 
Phoenix.  Cast Jack Black.

By the same token, Richard E. Grant is too ancient for Claudio. Claudio 
should be played by any newcomer who looks like or is a teenager(the 
boys who play Harry Potter and Ron Weasley, for instance). Richard E. 
Grant could, stretching it, be the Duke. Although I think I'd prefer 
Orlando Bloom. Johnny Depp.

There's no humor in a middle-aged man thinking he is the master of his 
domain. But when twenty and early 30s-somethings spout that nonsense, 
well, Seinfeld knew it was funny. So did Shakespeare.

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