The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0286 Tuesday, 10 April 2007
Date: Friday, 6 Apr 2007 13:34:43 -0700
Subject: 18.0269 Alms for Oblivion
Comment: Re: SHK 18.0269 Alms for Oblivion
Charles Weinstein complains of the Stratford Coriolanus:
"The production's bankruptcy is signaled by its resort to borrowing at
To which David Lindley replies:
Why must everything be utterly novel? Can any production be 'all new'?
After all, most of the audience will not have seen the other
productions, and I would have thought the direction of Shakespeare, and
perhaps particularly at the RSC, suffers rather more severely from the
pressure to make it 'new' at all costs than from borrowing from the past.
David Lindley is right on (but for the idea that the suffering is worse
at the RSC than elsewhere). There is no artist more abused by novelty
than WS. That's how you get MOV idiotically set in a bordello or TN at a
beach resort. "Borrowing from the past" onstage is hardly a sign of
bankruptcy; in the world of the theater it's rather seen as homage than
as stealing. Imitation is sincerest flattery. Nobody in the audience has
seen every production of everything and nobody (save perhaps Mr CW)
suffers by a director's choice to reproduce something he/she has
previously seen and liked. Nor is this limited to directors: pretty much
any actor will admit to using something he/she has seen another actor do.
Some years ago I saw Kevin Spacey play Jamie, the older brother in Long
Day's Journey into Night, on Broadway. If you want to share the
experience, rent the film and watch Jason Robards play that role (back
when he was himself an active alcoholic). Spacey's performance seemed to
me about 80% channeled Robards -- and he was terrific, best in the play
by far. Stealing? Bankrupt? Not to me.
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