The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1242 Monday, 25 July 2005
Date: Mon, 25 Jul 2005 01:20:52 -0700
Subject: Stirring up controversy on RSC's plans to present the canon
Under the title "Welcome to Bardworld" the Guardian last week had a pair
of commentaries on the Royal Shakespeare Company's recently announced
plan to produce all of Shakespeare, by a wide range of directors and
stage companies, at Stratford in 2006. One article is an overly
enthusiastic, almost naive piece by the incoming artistic director of
the Globe, Dominic Dromgoole, the other a very cynical view of the
Shakespeare industry by Gary Taylor, coeditor of the Oxford Shakespeare.
Dromgoole outlines answers both intellectual and emotional for "why
Shakespeare now more than ever": "...beyond the eternal blah-blahs and
the sheer devilry of it, there is a sense now that Shakespeare is moving
into his moment." There's more blah-blah but some of it sounds nice.
Taylor prefaces his sound and fury with a remark that Oxford wanted a
new edition "to secure its commercial credentials as a purveyor of
'Shakespeare', one of Britain's most reliable commodities in the
international cultural marketplace." The RSC in turn is "reinforcing
the 'global reach' of its chief commodity, and its own brand-name
clout." Its approach "insures that its festival will not produce any
radically new ideas about Shakespeare's achievement in its entirety.
What we will get, instead, is the old cliche about Shakespeare's
'infinite variety'. The aesthetics of the supermarket. Walmart
Shakespeare. Walmart is international, Walmart is ambitious, and--if we
measure 'universality' numerically--Walmart tells us more about human
nature than the Complete Works of Shakespeare. But we all pay a price
for Walmart (whether or not we shop there), and we will all pay a price
for the year-long bard binge the RSC is about to impose on us."
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