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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: March ::
Measure for Measure and a Puzzle
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0143  Thursday, 9 March 2006

[1] 	From: 	Jim Blackie <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 8 Mar 2006 10:55:11 -0500
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0136 Measure for Measure and a Puzzle

[2] 	From: 	Gabriel Egan <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 8 Mar 2006 16:21:58 -0000
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0136 Measure for Measure and a Puzzle

[3] 	From: 	Arnie Perlstein <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 8 Mar 2006 11:45:57 -0500
	Subj: 	Measure for Measure

[4] 	From: 	Tom Krause <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 8 Mar 2006 22:47:03 -0500
	Subj: 	Fw: SHK 17.0136 Measure for Measure and a Puzzle


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Jim Blackie <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 8 Mar 2006 10:55:11 -0500
Subject: 17.0136 Measure for Measure and a Puzzle
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0136 Measure for Measure and a Puzzle

Robert Projansky wrote:

"Jim Blackie, applauds a production of M4M for highlighting the comedy, 
'which I'd never noticed in my readings, or the BBC TV production.'

"Now that's tragedy.

"Bob Projansky"

Hmmm.... Perhaps this is the reason M4M is listed as a problem play. Bob 
Projansky apparently sees this clearly as a comedy. I do not.

Actually, what I wrote previously was not that the production under 
discussion *highlighted* the comedy, but "It made it clear where was the 
comedy, which I'd never noticed in my readings, or the BBC TV 
production" - Why Mr. Projansky would find it tragical for me to see 
little of the "happy comedy" in what is an acknowledged problem play, I 
cannot understand.

As Arnie Perlstein rightly pointed out, seeing the play on stage gives 
one a different perspective on the play. It becomes more public, broad, 
less intimate and threatening than in a private reading. As I read the 
accumulating heaviness of poor choices, huge penalties and severe 
judgments from preening officials in this play, I found it difficult to 
see the lighter side, or laugh at the humor. This feeling was not 
relieved as I sat alone before the tube watching the BBC TV production 
(which was not that good). A live performance might change that, and my 
visit to the Folger's did that for me.

I might, in the same critical (or mocking) vein as his note, mention 
that I find tragedy in Mr. Projansky's never having encountered an 
opposing view on either the readings or productions of Shakespeare's 
plays. Happily, I sometimes even change my OWN mind after some thought 
or further consideration. "Maybe I was wrong!!!" - Not to do so would 
make me no better than Angelo, who has no trouble dispensing judgment 
from on high without considering his own inadequacies.

Jim Blackie

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Gabriel Egan <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 8 Mar 2006 16:21:58 -0000
Subject: 17.0136 Measure for Measure and a Puzzle
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0136 Measure for Measure and a Puzzle

Bob Projansky describes Measure for Measure like this:

 >M4M is a comedy, period. It is funny throughout (even in
 >the middle of high drama), nobody in the play dies, and
 >there's a happy ending with a betrothal between the leads.

There's no betrothal at the end of the play in my text, just an offer of 
marriage made with the most excruciating bad timing. Were the response 
of Isabella given in the text, the case for a happy ending might be 
constructed.

Projansky may find the play unproblematic, but many readers and 
spectators observe much to be disquieted by. The hearing of confession 
by a fake priest is just one example among many.

 >Audiences went to see and still go to see M4M because
 >WS's high drama of sexual harassment is brilliantly and
 >seamlessly mixed with plenty of laughs.

The terms in which this claimed universal appeal is couched did not 
exist before the 1970s. Trades unions, not Shakespeare nor his critics, 
invented the notion of 'sexual harassment' to cover kinds of behaviour 
not previously treated as a distinct category. The new language 
accompanied new ways of thinking about sexual relations (in short, 
sexual politics were invented) and as minds were thus changed 
(irrevocably, we should hope) the play too was changed.

Gabriel Egan

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Arnie Perlstein <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 8 Mar 2006 11:45:57 -0500
Subject: 	Measure for Measure

 >"M4M is surely not a play that has survived and thrived for four  hundred
 >years because WS created a fog of ambiguity and confusion to  leave the
 >metadramatically sensitive guessing as to what the hell  they are all 
doing
 >up there. Audiences went to see and still go to see M4M because WS's high
 >drama of sexual harassment is brilliantly and seamlessly mixed with plenty
 >of laughs. It's not a comedy just by academic definition; it's a comedy
 >because it's funny and it's fun."

Bob, I don't agree that the metadramatics have nothing to do with the 
play's survival in the repertoire. It doesn't matter that only a small 
percentage of the audience will consciously realize that the Duke is, in 
a sense, a stand-in for Shakespeare. But the typical theater-goer will 
respond on some level to the mysterious, the intrigue, the confusion, 
the way we do to any good whodunit and whydunit.

But I do agree with you that the play is often very funny, in a very 
biting way, and that surely that comedy is a significant part of what 
gets this play re-performed. And, anyway, why is it an either/or? MFM is 
indeed very funny in many spots, but it is also really powerful in some 
other spots, and it is also food for meta-thought, and it is a parable 
about spirituality and religion, and many other things. In other words, 
a mature work of great genius on a par with the Bard's best.

Arnie

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Tom Krause <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 8 Mar 2006 22:47:03 -0500
Subject: 17.0136 Measure for Measure and a Puzzle
Comment: 	Fw: SHK 17.0136 Measure for Measure and a Puzzle

Stuart Manger asks "And WHY does Lucio get it so badly in the neck at 
the end?"?

If you accept M. Lindsay Kaplan's contention in "The Culture of Slander 
in Early Modern England" that the "fantastique" in that era was 
typically the dramatist's alter ego (as well as her various 
corroborations in the specific case of Lucio), it's easy to see-at least 
in part-why Lucio was forced to marry the woman he made pregnant.  A 
code-seeker might note the parallel between Keepdown and Hathaway (first 
syllables are verbs meaning roughly the same thing, second syllables are 
prepositions meaning roughly the same thing), although I'm not sure I'd 
go that far.

Tom Krause

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