The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0304 Monday, 10 April 2006
From: Jack Heller <
Date: Friday, 7 Apr 2006 14:42:43 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 17.0284 Shakespeare in Time Magazine (Europe)
Comment: Re: SHK 17.0284 Shakespeare in Time Magazine (Europe)
I think the point of my recent assertions has been lost in the
responses. So let me restate. No doubt good performances may be done of
the Shakespeare plays I mentioned earlier-Henry 6, Pt. 1; Comedy of
Errors; All's Well that Ends Well; Timon of Athens; and Cymbeline. In
2004, the performance of Timon at Stratford (ON) was far better than
that season's Macbeth. The same season's Cymbeline was acceptable.
But let's think about what is available to us. This year, in both Fort
Wayne and in South Bend, IN are performances of Comedy of Errors. In
both Chicago and Indianapolis are performances of Two Noble Kinsmen.
Because of the performance, I've taught COE, and I think most of my
students would treat as self-evident that COE is less an accomplishment
(to read) than any number of other Shakespearean plays we've read this year.
But it's Shakespeare. So must his worse be necessarily better than the
good work of his contemporaries?
I don't question one point that David Evett has made about COE. But,
other than not having twins, on almost every point, Middleton's A Chaste
Maid in Cheapside as an artistically more significant play-for its
portrayal of a city; for its complexities of family and sexual
relations; for the elaborate interplay of imagery related to spring,
lent, and Easter; for its breadth of social representation and
consideration. To me, by comparison, COE seems smaller.
Taste, of course, is part of these evaluations. A Chaste Maid in
Cheapside is far more sardonic than most of Shakespeare's works-but
that's not a negative to me. I confess to some impatience with the fact
that I can get two Much Ados, two Two Noble Kinsmens, two Comed(ies) of
Errors, and another Twelfth Night this year, and yet I never get one
chance to see a good Middleton or Jonson play. And any number of plays
by either dramatist can, indeed, stand comparison to those Shakespearean
plays. I, for one, am most excited to see Duchess of Malfi is on the
Stratford season this year (as was Edward II last season). More of that,
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