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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: August ::
Doubt
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0707  Tuesday, 1 August 2006

[1] 	From: 	Charles Weinstein <
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	Date: 	Monday, 31 Jul 2006 19:24:39 -0400
	Subj: 	Doubt

[2] 	From: 	Hardy M. Cook <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, August 01, 2006
	Subj: 	Doubt

[3] 	From: 	Charles Weinstein <
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	Date: 	Monday, 31 Jul 2006 20:22:54 -0400
	Subj: 	Doubt

[4] 	From: 	Hardy M. Cook <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, August 01, 2006
	Subj: 	Doubt

[5] 	From: 	William Niederkorn <
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	Date: 	Monday, 31 Jul 2006 19:39:59 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0704 Doubt


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Charles Weinstein <
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Date: 		Monday, 31 Jul 2006 19:24:39 -0400
Subject: 	Doubt

"There is no doubt that Shakespeare wrote for boy (or male) actors, and 
that this must have, to some degree, conditioned the way that he 
composed his female roles."

What this means, of course, is that Shakespeare's female characters are 
"to some degree" feminized boys (or males).  Having strenuously endorsed 
this curious proposition ("There is NO doubt"), while attacking my 
"outrageously flawed" and "nonsensical" reasoning in the process, 
Professor Cook now recants by admitting that Shakespeare's female 
characters are indeed wholly female.  In which case, there is nothing 
left of the proposition, and an open question as to whose reasoning is 
outrageously flawed.

--Charles Weinstein

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Hardy M. Cook <
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Date: 		Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Subject: 	Doubt

Perhaps, a stronger formulation of my assertion above would be, thanks 
to Syd Kasten, "But there is no doubt that Shakespeare wrote for boy (or 
male) actors, and that this no doubt conditioned the way he composed his 
female roles."

My point is that there is ample documentary evidence of Shakespeare's 
writing roles for the specific actors of The Lord Chamberlain's Men, 
such evidence would include using actor's names rather than character's 
prefix. This area is not a specialty of mine, so I cannot be more 
specific on the fly.

I have not written about "feminized boys (or males)," only that 
Shakespeare wrote keeping in mind the character in the company who would 
be playing the part he was writing. One may deduce from this that the 
actor who enacted the role of Cleopatra must have been extremely skilled.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Charles Weinstein <
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Date: 		Monday, 31 Jul 2006 20:22:54 -0400
Subject: 	Doubt

Speculation breeds counter-speculation, and if Professor Lindley's "must 
haves" are to be welcomed, I see no reason why mine are to be reviled. 
Where is the evidence that the masculinity of Shakespeare's actors 
"conditioned the composition" of his female characters?  I don't find it 
in the text or anywhere else, and therefore see no reason to believe it. 
  What I do find when I read Shakespeare is an imagination quite free of 
actors' limitations; that is what I meant by "uncompromising."  Since 
the historical record gives no hint of infant phenomena among The King's 
Men, I rely upon my own experience and ordinary sense in concluding that 
the boys were probably inadequate.  Since this is a position shared 
expressly by John Russell Brown and through necessary implication by 
Marvin Rosenberg, it can hardly be regarded as wild-eyed.

--Charles Weinstein

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Hardy M. Cook <
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Date: 		Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Subject: 	Doubt

Once again, I did not write that "that the masculinity of Shakespeare's 
actors 'conditioned the composition' of his female characters"; what I 
wrote was Shakespeare "wrote for the conditions under which his plays 
were performed, including the FACT that his female characters were 
enacted by male actors." What I hope I clarified above was that I was 
basing this assertion on the evidence of the place where actor's names 
were used instead of the character's speech prefix indicates that 
Shakespeare was writing a character's part with a specific actor in mind 
who would be playing that part.

I never accused Mr. Weinstein of being "wild-eyed." However, I did 
inquire as to what evidence Charles had for making the assertions "that 
he expected his actors to keep up with him, that he was pleased when 
they could, and that he didn't change his writing one iota when they 
couldn't."

What we are told above is the evidence is derived from Mr. Weinstein's 
reading of the texts.

I don't believe that I have reviled Mr. Weinstein. I have offered what I 
consider to be evidence and set it up against Mr. Weinstein's speculations.

In many respects, I do not believe that Mr. Weinstein and I have very 
serious differences about the complexity of many the female characters 
that appear in Shakespeare's scripts. What I am most concerned about is 
the absoluteness of Mr. Weinstein's convictions, the uncompromising 
assurance of the rightness of his assertions. What I have tried to rely 
on are deductions from documentary evidence - such as that an eyewitness 
referred to the female character by female pronoun and the evidence that 
the playwright appears to have slipped on occasions and used an actor's 
name rather than the character's prefix.

I do not see how I can be clearer than this, and I do not see a reason 
for continuing to restate our positions.

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		William Niederkorn <
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Date: 		Monday, 31 Jul 2006 19:39:59 -0400
Subject: 17.0704 Doubt
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0704 Doubt

Here is some evidence that boys were playing female roles, as all no 
doubt remember. Hamlet's speech to the players showed that a boy playing 
female roles was growing too old for them:

"You are welcome, masters; welcome, all. . . .  What, my young lady and 
mistress! By'r lady, your ladyship is nearer to heaven than when I saw 
you last, by the altitude of a chopine. Pray God, your voice, like 
apiece of uncurrent gold, be not cracked within the ring."

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