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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: July ::
Against All-Male Productions
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0682  Thursday, 20 July 2006

[1] 	From: 	David Frankel <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 19 Jul 2006 11:26:21 -0400
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 17.0676

[2] 	From: 	Geralyn Horton <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 19 Jul 2006 12:48:22 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0676

[3] 	From: 	John W. Kennedy <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 19 Jul 2006 13:34:35 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0676

[4] 	From: 	Charles Weinstein <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 19 Jul 2006 18:16:50 -0400
	Subj: 	SHAKSPER Roundtable and Impending Hiatus


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		David Frankel <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 19 Jul 2006 11:26:21 -0400
Subject: 17.0676
Comment: 	RE: SHK 17.0676

Charles Weinstein said:

 >"When Shakespeare's greatest female character spurns the thought of
 >viewing 'some squeaking Cleopatra boy my greatness' she is mocking the
 >idea that she could be adequately incarnated by a male."

And then commented on his previous posting:

 >That seems to me indisputable.  Why did Shakespeare devise such a
 >sentiment and make Cleopatra utter it (in her death scene, no less)?
 >Metatheatrics notwithstanding, I think he shared her opinion of its
 >justice.

Did he (the actor playing Cleopatra) deliver the line in a squeaking 
voice? Or did he deliver it in "Cleopatra's" voice, thus, perhaps, 
calling attention to his skill?  We don't know, nor do we know how the 
audience reacted.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Geralyn Horton <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 19 Jul 2006 12:48:22 -0400
Subject: 17.0676
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0676

Elizabeth S. Angello <
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 >

 >And, not incidentally, Burbage did not perform Othello in
 >blackface. Does this make his performance, too, a travesty?

The drawing that seems to be of a production of "Titus Andronicus" shows 
Aaron in blackface.   The ladies of James' court performed "The Masque 
of Blackness" in black makeup. Is there some strong evidence to the 
contrary in the case of Burbage and Othello?   It's not as if the 
leading actor would be doubling another role and wouldn't have time to 
get the makeup on and off between entrances.....

G.L. Horton, playwright
http://www.stagepage.info/

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		John W. Kennedy <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 19 Jul 2006 13:34:35 -0400
Subject: 17.0676
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0676

Charles Weinstein <
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 >

 >>"When Shakespeare's greatest female character spurns the
 >>thought of viewing 'some squeaking Cleopatra boy my
 >>greatness' she is mocking the idea that she could be adequately
 >>incarnated by a male."
 >
 >That seems to me indisputable.  Why did Shakespeare devise such
 >a sentiment and make Cleopatra utter it (in her death scene, no
 >less)? Metatheatrics notwithstanding, I think he shared her opinion
 >of its justice.

How nice to know that Mr. Weinstein agrees with his own words when he 
sees them.

By a remarkable coincidence, I, too, agree with my own:

"/Cleopatra/ may be mocking the idea, but to suppose that /Shakespeare/ 
is doing so at that crucial point in the tragedy is madness. On the 
contrary, it shows his faith that his leading boy actor would turn in a 
performance good enough for scene to hold."

I leave it for Hardy to decide whether this be best viewed in the light 
of the Wheel of Karma, the Whirligig of Time, or George Jetson's dog walk.

John W. Kennedy

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Charles Weinstein <
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 >
Date: 		Wednesday, 19 Jul 2006 18:16:50 -0400
Subject: 	SHAKSPER Roundtable and Impending Hiatus

Hardy Cook writes:

"[S]hort of a 'smoking gun' like a handwritten letter from the 
playwright no one is going to prove conclusively that Shakespeare had 
feelings one way or another about males playing females on the Earl 
Modern stage..."

In which case one must also avoid the standard sentimentalities, viz., 
that Shakespeare was marvelously happy with his acting company, 
including the boys who played his women. "Short of a smoking gun like a 
handwritten letter," there is no way of knowing whether Shakespeare 
thought those actors were superlative, merely adequate, partly good and 
partly bad, or wholly inadequate to his conception.

"...'some squeaking Cleopatra boy my greatness' is not 'indisputable' 
proof of anything other than [that] the Cleopatra character does not 
wish to have her love for Antony ridiculed and satirized in Rome."

I fail to see how that refutes my interpretation, and I have yet to hear 
a plausible different one.

--Charles Weinstein

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