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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: March ::
Doubling of Cordelia and the Fool: Again
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0203  Thursday, 23 March 2006

[1] 	From: 	Jack Heller <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 22 Mar 2006 11:35:21 -0500 (EST)
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0197 Doubling of Cordelia and the Fool: Again

[2] 	From: 	John-Paul Spiro <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 22 Mar 2006 15:04:37 -0500
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 17.0197 Doubling of Cordelia and the Fool: Again


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Jack Heller <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 22 Mar 2006 11:35:21 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 17.0197 Doubling of Cordelia and the Fool: Again
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0197 Doubling of Cordelia and the Fool: Again

 From what I've been told, the current staging of Lear in Indianapolis 
doubles the roles of Cordelia and the Fool. I will see on Thursday how 
this goes. I've also seen Merchant of Venice performed with only five 
actors. I think the reason for that was economy rather than to reveal 
any new ironies, but I think it was a successful staging.

Hardy's point about a lack of evidence merits further discussion. I've 
recently seen claims that Hamlet, Lear, Richard III, and Romeo and 
Juliet are all the most frequently performed plays. Except for Romeo, I 
would suspect that the rest might not even be in the top five of 
frequent performances. My counter-evidence is only anecdotal, but I've 
had more frequent opportunities to see Much Ado and The Tempest than the 
rest of those plays. So where do these claims come from?

Jack Heller

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		John-Paul Spiro <
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 >
Date: 		Wednesday, 22 Mar 2006 15:04:37 -0500
Subject: 17.0197 Doubling of Cordelia and the Fool: Again
Comment: 	RE: SHK 17.0197 Doubling of Cordelia and the Fool: Again

Bruce Young writes:

 >It seems to me that using doubling to achieve the "deeper
 >ironies beyond the reach of words" referred to by Ackroyd is a
 >modern practice Shakespeare and his contemporaries are not likely to
 >have thought of, let alone indulged in.

I think Portia's own use of doubling in "Merchant" shows that 
Shakespeare was quite sensitive to the "deeper ironies beyond the reach 
of words" when a person wears two different sets of clothes.  During the 
trial scene, she is both Portia and Balthasar: Portia for us, Balthasar 
for everyone else.  In Act 5, she forces Bassanio to rethink his 
previous experience with "Balthasar" while also understanding that 
Portia can become Balthasar whenever she pleases.  If that's "modern," 
then so is Shakespeare.

He also writes:

 >If the audience notices that the
 >same actor is playing both parts, the result may actually be
 >confusion.  Is the Fool really Cordelia in disguise (an idea that
 >makes no realistic sense)?  Or is the director trying to get me to
 >see something deep and symbolic I'm not already seeing?

God forbid an audience should be confused while watching "King Lear."

The play is not realistic.  Holding it to standards of realism is more a 
"modern" convention than anything else.  Furthermore, a director's job 
is often to "get you to see something deep and symbolic," even if you 
are already seeing it.  Perhaps not everyone else sees it.

John-Paul Spiro

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