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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: December ::
Greek Approaches to the Chorus in H5
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0808  Tuesday, 4 December 2007

[1] 	From:	John W. Kennedy <
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	Date:	Saturday, 01 Dec 2007 14:40:53 -0500
	Subj:	Re: SHK 18.0795 Greek Approaches to the Chorus in H5

[2] 	From:	David Kathman <
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	Date:	Saturday, 1 Dec 2007 15:13:51 -0600
	Subj:	Re: SHK 18.0795 Greek Approaches to the Chorus in H5

[3] 	From:	Peter Groves <
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	Date:	Sunday, 2 Dec 2007 13:17:38 +1100
	Subj:	RE: SHK 18.0795 Greek Approaches to the Chorus in H5

[4] 	From:	Peter S. Donaldson <
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	Date:	Sunday, 2 Dec 2007 11:39:59 -0500
	Subj:	Re: SHK 18.0795 Greek Approaches to the Chorus in H5

[5] 	From:	Marcia Eppich-Harris <
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	Date:	Sunday, 2 Dec 2007 17:05:17 -0600
	Subj:	RE: SHK 18.0795 Greek Approaches to the Chorus in H5


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		John W. Kennedy <
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Date:		Saturday, 01 Dec 2007 14:40:53 -0500
Subject: 18.0795 Greek Approaches to the Chorus in H5
Comment:	Re: SHK 18.0795 Greek Approaches to the Chorus in H5

David Evett <
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 >

 >Is anybody aware of productions of *Henry V* that have
 >treated the Chorus in the manner of Aeschylus or
 >Euripides--a group, not an individual, on stage at times
 >other than the spaces before and after the play and
 >between its Acts, maybe dancing and chanting or
 >singing instead of or as well as speaking, perhaps
 >given a primitive character (old military veterans,
 >for instance)?

I am not aware of any such production, and I don't really see how it 
could work, except as a stunt. The HV Chorus does not say what a Greek 
chorus says, do what a Greek chorus does, or serve as a Greek chorus 
serves. One could, of course, /write/ a play of Henry V that worked that 
way, and could even incorporate a large number of Shakespeare's lines 
into it, but it would be a new play, not Shakespeare's, and 
Shakespeare's own chorus would have to be eliminated altogether, in 
favor of more conventional scene-setting lines. Bates and his entire 
subplot, of course, would receive a massive rewriting, with the new 
chorus taking the burden.

This still leaves, of course, the wretched problem of how to handle a 
Greek chorus in actual production. Christopher Martin's device (was it 
really so long ago that he staged the Oedipus plays at CSC?) is the most 
successful I have seen, but it is assuredly /not/ what the Greeks did.

(The most thorough and successful modern -- well, relatively modern -- 
imitation of a Greek tragedy that I know is William Dunlap's 1798 
"Andre", in which the chorus equivalent is the single character, 
M'Donald. Interestingly enough, Dunlap's Preface makes no point of it at 
all.)

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		David Kathman <
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Date:		Saturday, 1 Dec 2007 15:13:51 -0600
Subject: 18.0795 Greek Approaches to the Chorus in H5
Comment:	Re: SHK 18.0795 Greek Approaches to the Chorus in H5

David Evett wrote:

 >Is anybody aware of productions of *Henry V* that have
 >treated the Chorus in the manner of Aeschylus or
 >Euripides--a group, not an individual, on stage at times
 >other than the spaces before and after the play and
 >between its Acts, maybe dancing and chanting or
 >singing instead of or as well as speaking, perhaps
 >given a primitive character (old military veterans,
 >for instance)?

I'm not sure about H5, but in the Goodman Theatre's production of 
Pericles in Chicago in 2006, Gower's lines were all taken by other 
characters addressing the audience, with some speeches (even some lines) 
split among different characters. I'm pretty sure I've seen similar 
devices in other productions of plays with choruses, but I don't 
remember exactly when or where, and I don't know that any of them were H5.

Dave Kathman

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[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Peter Groves <
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Date:		Sunday, 2 Dec 2007 13:17:38 +1100
Subject: 18.0795 Greek Approaches to the Chorus in H5
Comment:	RE: SHK 18.0795 Greek Approaches to the Chorus in H5

Dave Evett asks about "productions of Henry V that have treated the 
Chorus in the manner of Aeschylus or Euripides-a group, not an 
Individual." One problem such a production might meet is that you cannot 
chant iambic pentameter in the way you can demotic verse ("When shall we 
three meet again") -- not unless you want to sound like a chorus of 
daleks. It's easy to make the experiment.

Peter Groves
Monash University

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Peter S. Donaldson <
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 >
Date:		Sunday, 2 Dec 2007 11:39:59 -0500
Subject: 18.0795 Greek Approaches to the Chorus in H5
Comment:	Re: SHK 18.0795 Greek Approaches to the Chorus in H5

In the 1995 Chicago Shakespeare production during the SAA meeting the 
chorus was a blues singer with guitar, lamenting the war, possibly a 
veteran.

[5]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Marcia Eppich-Harris <
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Date:		Sunday, 2 Dec 2007 17:05:17 -0600
Subject: 18.0795 Greek Approaches to the Chorus in H5
Comment:	RE: SHK 18.0795 Greek Approaches to the Chorus in H5

David writes:

 >Is anybody aware of productions of *Henry V* that have
 >treated the Chorus in the manner of Aeschylus or
 >Euripides--a group, not an individual, on stage at times
 >other than the spaces before and after the play and
 >between its Acts, maybe dancing and chanting or
 >singing instead of or as well as speaking, perhaps
 >given a primitive character (old military veterans,
 >for instance)?

I am not aware of any productions that have done this. That doesn't mean 
they aren't out there. However, an Elizabethan Chorus is distinguished 
from a Greek chorus in part because the Elizabethan Chorus was always 
only one person, instead of a group of people.

Best,
Marcia Eppich-Harris

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