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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: May ::
Dumbshows?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0402  Friday, 5 May 2006

From: 		Frank Whigham <
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Date: 		Thursday, 4 May 2006 11:16:00 -0500
Subject: 	Dumbshows?

I was reminded today, teaching Stoppard's R&G Are Dead, what his head 
Player says about the dumb show (which his troupe stages). I figure 
Stoppard counts as a thoughtful reader of Hamlet.

GUIL. What is the dumbshow for?

PLAYER: Well, it's a device, really -- it makes the action that follows 
more or less comprehensible; you understand, we are tied down to a 
language that makes up in obscurity what it lacks in style.

The rehearsal of the dumbshow continues then to the murder, after which 
ROS asks, "Who was that?" and the PLAYER replies, "The King's brother 
and uncle to the Prince."

Stoppard goes on to shuffle the Hamlet data brilliantly, etc., but here 
at least, if we're asking GUIL's question, a brilliant practicing 
playwright's practicing head Player suggests, I guess, that the dumbshow 
enables the proper apprehension of Murder of Gonzago obscurities. 
Whatever those are.

~Frank Whigham

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