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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: September ::
Performing Angelo
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1585  Thursday, 22 September 2005

[1] 	From: 	Scot Zarela <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, 20 Sep 2005 13:26:01 -0700
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1572 Performing Angelo

[2] 	From: 	Jim Blackie <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, 20 Sep 2005 13:37:49 -0400 (EDT)
	Subj: 	RE: Performing Angelo

[3] 	From: 	Abigail Quart <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, 20 Sep 2005 13:39:45 -0400
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 16.1572 Performing Angelo

[4] 	From: 	Charles Weinstein <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, 20 Sep 2005 20:58:58 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1572 Performing Angelo


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Scot Zarela <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 20 Sep 2005 13:26:01 -0700
Subject: 16.1572 Performing Angelo
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1572 Performing Angelo

It's been suggested a few times, in this and other discussions, that the 
age of the character depends on the age of the actor.  I wouldn't be too 
sure of that.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Jim Blackie <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 20 Sep 2005 13:37:49 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 	RE: Performing Angelo

From: Arnie Perlstein

" I claim that, in seeing the Duke as initiating this elaborate ruse for 
a personal romantic reason, I am engaging in reasonable interpretation 
of MFM. And I claim that your creative interpretations are no more 
firmly grounded than mine. If you went back and read Measure for Measure 
with the working hypothesis that Shakespeare wanted one plausible 
reading of the play to be "boy pursues girl in highly unorthodox way", 
you would be surprised at how nicely it dovetails with what happens, and 
how nicely it fits with certain facts."

JB: While one can certainly read through the text, get to the end, see 
something "there" and go back and prove it to oneself, I'm willing to 
bet this was not what was intended by the Bard. "Boy Meets Girl, Boy 
Chases Girl, Boy Gets Girl" is best left to bad films and TV, not read 
as an underlying motive of MfM, in my mind. One can find proof any 
almost anything by "reverse engineering" a play with a specific outcome 
already in mind.

I have to align myself with the previous posting (who was it?) who 
argued there was nothing in the play to support either a "history" 
between the vile Duke and chaste Isabella other than conjecture. If this 
history were a fact, it would be enormously important to the audience 
and brought to their attention during the performance, not left to be 
uncovered after a careful combing of the text. This is a play! It was 
meant to be seen live, real time, not subjected to the re-reading 
analysis of a novel or other such prose, however much we may enjoy doing 
so ourselves.

I think the rule for acceptance of a premise such as that should be "If 
it is not clearly observed, spoken or alluded to in the play, it didn't 
happen. There must be support from WITHIN the play for any 
interpretation to gain validity beyond the subjective.

From: Arnie Perlstein

"It is reasonable to derive from that pattern that Shakespeare is up to 
something metafictional, something deeper and more complex than the 
surface plot presented to us. He's looking for an audience and/or reader 
who will actively use his or her imagination to fill in blanks, and not 
to passively accept surface realities. Just as the Duke thinks fast on 
his feet to keep the ball rolling despite the refusal of his "puppets" 
to dance to his prescribed rhythm, so too do we need to do this, to 
avoid the quickly shifting sands of the plot of Measure for Measure."

JB: I think it true that every author hopes the audience/reader will 
take something "personal" away from their literary work. I think (we've 
had this discussion before, and I think I know where you're coming from, 
Arnie) your "metafiction" refers to that message implied to the reader 
but is not explicit to the story. So that "under" the tale of Macbeth we 
are asked to look into ourselves and examine our motives, to ask if they 
are good and true, to rise to the occasion but not overstep it - to 
question "fate" and realize there are choices that must be made, etc., 
etc. These are subjective. That's also correct - to point out there are 
global, universal points applicable in WS's plays. But for an action to 
have "happened" in the world of that play it must be presented onstage 
either shown, alluded to, or pantomimed (I think that's all the 
possibilities).

In short, if it is important, Will will WANT to show it to you.

From: Arnie Perlstein

" So it is entirely reasonable to doubt his "cover story" for leaving 
Vienna, and for appointing Angelo, and to refuse to accept apparent 
coincidences as such."

JB: This interpretation changes the entire story from a study of a 
Machiavellian <expletive deleted>to a charming, if involved and slightly 
ugly romance! The "cover story" of the Duke's, we are told, is that he 
is going off to handle foreign policy, leaving domestic (in pretty good 
shape) policy to Angelo. The lie (to Angelo) is that he, the Duke, will 
be away, that Angelo is now in charge.

But the Duke reveals (don't have the play in front of me, so this is 
from memory) that his REAL reason is to let Angelo "clean up the town," 
a thing that he, the Duke, is either unwilling or unable to do. - quite 
a familiar political ploy, really-What Arnie is calling the cover story 
(stop me if I've got this wrong again, Arnie,) is (are) BOTH these 
stories. They are both fake reasons. He, the Duke, REALLY just wants the 
love of Isabella, the almost-nun. This, despite the fact that we never 
hear anyone mention this, that we have been presented a fabricated and a 
real reason for the "absence" of the Duke. So, despite my usual support 
of Arnie's theories, I have to argue this one. I find it lacks the 
validity of textual reference and relies on subjective guessery.

Jim Blackie

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Abigail Quart <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 20 Sep 2005 13:39:45 -0400
Subject: 16.1572 Performing Angelo
Comment: 	RE: SHK 16.1572 Performing Angelo

"Comedic" or "humorous" and "playing for laughs" are two different 
things.  I'm not arguing for a burlesque interpretation. None of these 
characters has any sense of humor. They are all in deadly earnest. And 
they are all so full of crap they should have brown eyes. It's a 
delicate performance, but the earnestness of these fools should be a cue 
to the audience that they're over the top. The play AIN'T a tragedy.

As to Isabella's virginity being her favorite toy, well, did you ever 
try to take a beloved teddy from a toddler? The fuss! However, that 
won't stop a wheedling sibling from trying. William Shakespeare had a 
big sister. Judging by Claudio, I'm sure Will used his verbal gifts on 
her most effectively throughout childhood and beyond.

As to the Duke's age? "After Hamlet, all Shakespeare's male leads were 
middle aged or older." Uh huh. The later plays concentrate on 
father/daughter reunions/relationships . The earlier plays most often 
feature problems with a brother. Neither Hamlet nor Measure is a 
father/daughter reunion play. They each include problems with a brother. 
Also, Measure is dated in my books as contemporaneous with Hamlet, not 
later.

DUKE
No, holy father; throw away that thought;
Believe not that the dribbling dart of love
Can pierce a complete bosom. Why I desire thee
To give me secret harbour hath a purpose
More grave and wrinkled than the aims and ends
Of burning youth.

This is the speech that gives the age of the Duke. We don't know what 
the holy father's thought was, but why would he have it for an older 
man? Why would the Duke have to insist that his purpose was "grave and 
wrinkled" rather than one motivated by "burning youth" if he was 
obviously without youth? There's no real reason for this tidbit of 
dialog EXCEPT to set the Duke's age as young. NOBODY can understand why 
this guy isn't married or whoring around. He's the right age to be swept 
by his passions but he's not doing it. Like Angelo. Like Isabella. The 
contrasts are Claudio, who was swept away by passion but fully intended 
to behave honorably by Juliet and their child; and Lucio, who was swept 
away and did not behave honorably.

Claudio's behavior is actually the most normal, most human, most 
civilized behavior of the group...and he's the one in jail. Claudio is 
following the command to be fruitful and multiply. Claudio is not 
leaving his lover and child to survive how they will. He is not having 
sex with just anyone. He loves one woman and she loves him. Together, 
they are having a child conceived in love. They plan to marry and raise 
the child together. But Claudio is the one in jail. This should be a 
clue that the Duke and Angelo are perpetuating some kind of strange 
bizarro world. What they are doing is NOT right. They have disturbed the 
natural order of things. Restoring natural order by returning people to 
their proper places is the journey of the play.

These people are young, and they have natural duties. But they have 
filled their heads full of claptrap which not only prevents them from 
providing the next generation, but also prevents others from behaving 
properly. Juliet without Claudio but with a bastard child? What could 
her fate be? Her child's? The pompous idiocies propounded by Angelo and 
the Duke are actively working AGAINST the well-being of the community.

By play's end, the Ruler Who Refuses to Rule takes control, the nun will 
be on her way to becoming a wife, the reluctant fiance will be marrying 
the woman he jilted, Claudio and Juliet will be raising their family 
just as they should have been allowed to do in the first place, and 
Lucio will be marrying the woman who bore his child. The Duke himself, 
by marrying Isabella, will be on his way to providing an heir for his 
dukedom, which will add to the stability of the state.

In Measure for Measure, religious posturing works against the well-being 
of the state. The "problem" of the play occurs when people can't imagine 
that Shakespeare would intend such a meaning.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Charles Weinstein <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 20 Sep 2005 20:58:58 -0400
Subject: 16.1572 Performing Angelo
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1572 Performing Angelo

"Ay, but to die and go we know not where,
To lie in cold obstruction and to rot;
This sensible warm motion to become
A kneaded clod; and the delighted spirit
To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside
In thrilling region of thick-ribbed ice;
To be imprisoned in the viewless winds
And blown with restless violence round about
The pendent world; or to be worse than worst
Of those that lawless and incertain thought
Imagine howling:  'tis too horrible!
The weariest and most loathed earthly life
That age, ache, penury and imprisonment
Can lay on nature is a paradise
To what we fear of death."

That's funny, is it?

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