2007

Kent's Banishment

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0550  Tuesday, 21 August 2007

From: 		Nicole Coonradt <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Monday, 20 Aug 2007 20:54:28 +0000
Subject: 18.0523 Kent's Banishment
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0523 Kent's Banishment

Per our discussion of "leaving time" re Kent's Banishment recently, in 
re-reading _As You Like It_, I am reminded of another banishment: 
Frederick's of Rosalind.

Frederick:  "Mistress, dispatch you with your safest haste, / And get 
you from our court" (1.3.38-9).
[ . . . ]

"Within these ten days if that thou beest found / So near our public 
court as twenty miles, / Thou diest for it" (1.3.41-4).
[ . . . ]

"If you outstay the time, upon mine honour / And in the greatness of my 
work, you die" (1.3.88).

I guess, since Rosalind only has to be twenty miles from court, ten days 
is considered long enough to pack up and be gone?  (Whereas Kent had to 
quit the entire country and so we assume needed more time?)

Curious.  This also comes on the heels of the discussion, in the 
previous scene, amongst Rosalind, Celia, and Touchstone of "honour," 
which reinforces the fact that Frederick has none.

Best,
Nicole Coonradt

P.S.  As I am still using the Wells/Taylor "Complete Works," I do hope 
the "ten days" is legit!

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WashPost: Ourselves in Shakespeare

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0549  Tuesday, 21 August 2007

From: 		Ros King <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Tuesday, 21 Aug 2007 11:09:10 +0100
Subject: 18.0543 WashPost: Ourselves in Shakespeare
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0543 WashPost: Ourselves in Shakespeare

The recent posts on this thread have rather demonstrated my point: 
there's been a lot of both cherry picking and then (wilful) misreading. 
John rather needlessly, but citing authority, mentioned "Leeds United", 
not "football" per se, which of course does feature briefly in "King 
Lear", as we all know, Terry. The historicism/presentism merrygoround is 
endless fun, no doubt, but no longer getting us anywhere and I would 
like to try a new approach.

I didn't know that "King John" featured so much in gothic novels, John, 
but I'm not particularly surprised, since it was popular on the stage. 
Constance is also the sort of character who might appeal in that context 
of emotion and sensibility - as she appeals to many of my students. But 
the question I would ask is whether the text was cut or adjusted in 
performance (and also in criticism) in order to make that preferred 
reading more 'the' meaning of the play. (Certainly, a scene was added to 
"Richard III" at about that time in order to present more pathetically a 
mother's and her children's emotions at their forced separation.)

In the mid-nineteenth century, by contrast, Kean's production of "King 
John" improved on Shakespeare by including a tableau of what was at that 
stage the most important part of John's reign, the signing of Magna 
Carta. Why?  Ongoing political reform: Gladstone was present at Kean's 
retirement banquet and Era reported, "the love of English people for the 
drama is second only to their love for liberty" (August 1859). I don't 
quite see extension of the franchise as being a central feature in the 
play (or in the barons' charter, for that matter, although I remember 
being taught at junior school that that was what it was! History too is 
subject to reinterpretation.) But this isn't a case of "meaning by 
Shakespeare". It's a case of altering "Shakespeare" in order to make 
meaning. Analysing what interpreters have had to do to a text in order 
to make it mean what they wanted it to mean can be very revealing of the 
structure and possibilities for meaning of the earliest printed texts of 
the plays.

And no, Cary, I don't suppose that a text is a "sentient being" 
(although a text in performance either in one's head or on the stage can 
invoke quite a bit of sentience all round, and I'm interested in why and 
how that can be the case). But trying to deny a millennium's worth of 
usage of the word "mean" as "to have a certain signification" (OED v1; 
3) does rather smack of King Canute. I suggested looking at linked texts 
because that at least gives us a base line, if not a control. The 
"Troublesome Reign of King John", like Bale's "King Johan" and like 
Holinshed's chronicle of the reign, is clearly meant to be protestant 
propaganda. Shakespeare's "King John", just as clearly, isn't. Unlike 
those others it is not trying to preach the "meaning of life". Rather, 
it raises interesting, satirical questions about commodity, power and 
inheritance, and yes responsibility for children, which don't have to be 
made relevant today because, as questions, they remain relevant. The 
crying shame is that because it didn't fit twentieth-century critical 
paradigms - the first or second tetralogy; the Elizabethan world picture 
- we forgot what a good play it is.

Performance can only ever take place in the present, and the best 
performances are achieved not just in the present but in the moment. 
They are not, however, *prepared* in the moment. That involves a complex 
interaction between the remembered personal past, shared knowledge of 
the cultural and political present, and the researched cultural and 
historical past. I am interested in achieving a criticism which looks at 
the relationship between a playtext (with all its bibliographical 
problems) and a whole set of historical contexts (relating to story, 
time of writing, and of successive revivals), while analysing what might 
be written-in to groups of words in terms of sound, colour, picture and 
gesture, those building blocks of the emotions simulated in characters 
and strangely experienced by readers and audiences. I am not interested 
in any kind of hagiographical approach to Shakespeare or overly 
concerned with the often impossible task of trying to determine what he 
originally wrote. I am, though, interested in what, for example, the F 
text of "Hamlet" enables one to think, which the Q2 text of "Hamlet" 
does not allow one to think, and vice versa, and why and how that happens.

With very best wishes,
Ros

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Elizabethan Dining

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0547  Tuesday, 21 August 2007

[1] 	From: 		David Lindley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date: 		Monday, 20 Aug 2007 15:26:14 +0100
	Subj: 		RE: SHK 18.0540 Elizabethan Dining

[2] 	From: 		Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date: 		Tuesday, August 21, 2007
	Subj: 		Mealtyde

[3] 	From: 		Jan Pick <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date: 		Monday, 20 Aug 2007 21:22:57 +0100
	Subj: 		RE: SHK 18.0540 Elizabethan Dining

[4] 	From: 		Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date: 		Monday, 20 Aug 2007 18:14:41 -0400
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0540 Elizabethan Dining


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		David Lindley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Monday, 20 Aug 2007 15:26:14 +0100
Subject: 18.0540 Elizabethan Dining
Comment: 	RE: SHK 18.0540 Elizabethan Dining

Just by the way, 'dinner' was the name for the midday meal in the 
lower-middle-class household in which I was brought up (and one had 
'school dinners'). 'Lunch' was what posh people had.  They had supper in 
the evening, we had tea. I still, resistantly, tend to retain these 
labels...

David Lindley

[2]-------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Subject: 	Mealtyde

An entry in LEME: The Lexicon of Early Modern English fixes the times 
for meals.

Richard Verstegan
_A Restitution of Decayed Intelligence_
1605

Mealtyde. The tyme of eating, as noon-meal or euen-meal, for which wee 
vse our borrowed French woords of dinner and supper.

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Jan Pick <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Monday, 20 Aug 2007 21:22:57 +0100
Subject: 18.0540 Elizabethan Dining
Comment: 	RE: SHK 18.0540 Elizabethan Dining

The Elizabethans tended to have three main meals: breakfast - literally 
breaking the fast of the night, at around 8 am; dinner in the middle of 
the day - this was the main meal and took place usually around noon; 
supper, which was the evening meal and was eaten around 6 - 7pm.  In the 
countryside, many went to bed early and rose early, so obviously 
mealtimes were not set in stone, but that was the general naming of them.

Best,
Jan Pick

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Monday, 20 Aug 2007 18:14:41 -0400
Subject: 18.0540 Elizabethan Dining
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0540 Elizabethan Dining

In Arden of Feversham, IV.i, Arden leaves home to keep a promised 
appointment to "dine" with a local lord, but he promises his wife to 
return "ere night . . . to sup with" her.  Two scenes later the 
murderers are commenting on thick fog that covers them as they lay in 
wait for Arden.  One says, "This were a fine world for chandlers, if 
this weather would last; for then a man should never dine nor sup 
without candle light."

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Redheads

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0548  Tuesday, 21 August 2007

[1] 	From: 		Virginia Byrne <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date: 		Monday, 20 Aug 2007 10:59:14 EDT
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0537  Redheads

[2] 	From: 		Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date: 		Monday, 20 Aug 2007 13:29:27 -0400
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0542 Redheads

[3] 	From: 		Donald Bloom <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date: 		Monday, 20 Aug 2007 15:12:45 -0500
	Subj: 		RE: SHK 18.0542 Redheads

[4] 	From: 		Robert Projansky <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date: 		Monday, 20 Aug 2007 15:18:23 -0700
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0542 Redheads


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Virginia Byrne <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Monday, 20 Aug 2007 10:59:14 EDT
Subject: 18.0537  Redheads
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0537  Redheads

I went to Tanglewood Saturday night and noted that in Berlioz's 
DAMNATION OF FAUST that the devil's red hair is referred to (sorry for 
dangling the preposition).

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Monday, 20 Aug 2007 13:29:27 -0400
Subject: 18.0542 Redheads
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0542 Redheads

Like Hardy, I too have been enjoying the recent threads.  It seems to me 
that some of them -- like this one and the dinner/supper discussion -- 
highlight the seams between classical historicism and presentism.  David 
Basch's post, in particular, illustrates how a particular soio-political 
outlook can color our perceptions of Elizabethan/Jacobean attitudes, 
even if it leads to patent inconsistencies.  Mr. Basch begins by noting 
(without citation of authority) that

["Elizabethans seem to have had a knee jerk reaction about the evil-ness 
of Jews, a condition that supposedly showed itself like a badge in what 
Jews looked like-Jews that they had never seen. Hence Shylock was given 
a red wig and big nose to make this sentiment most apparent."]

Then after observing that modern "commentators truly take account of the 
character of Shylock as revealed by his lines in the play and the 
context of those lines that we get a more humanized sense of him in 
theatrical performances," Mr. Basch says,

["That the 'red wig' is not Shakespeare's characterization of Shylock is 
made abundantly clear when Portia arrives at the Venetian court and has 
to ask 'Which is the Jew and which the merchant?'"]

The only way I can harmonize the two bracketed quotations is to construe 
Mr. Basch's thesis as contending that Elizabethans in general had a 
stereotypical view of Jewish appearance but Shakespeare did not share 
that view, even though he evidently allowed his character to be 
portrayed in the stereotypical fashion. That thesis -- if, in fact, I 
have correctly interpreted what Mr. Basch is saying -- is not inherently 
illogical; but it does require more support than one eight-word passage 
from the play and an unsupported idea of the makeup used on the 
Elizabethan stage.

So far as I have ever read, the red wig was introduced in the 
McCready/Irving era.  I would be very interested in any primary source 
for the notion that it was current in 1596-1600.  As for the "big nose," 
I am not aware that this ever was a theatrical convention, although I 
suspect it was used occasionally in the 19th Century and early 20th. 
Again, what support is there for its being conventional?  James 
Shapiro's section on the supposed racial distinctiveness of Jews says 
nothing about either hair color or proboscis dimensions (J. Shapiro, 
Shakespeare and the Jews 170-73 [Columbia U.P. 1996]).

Mr. Basch's construction of Portia's question at the beginning of the 
trial scene is reasonable; it is certainly possible that the audience is 
being told that there is no outward way to distinguish between the 
merchant and the moneylender.  But that straightforward interpretation, 
which seems to me to be the least dramatically satisfying, is certainly 
not the only one.  For example, the line could be played for laughs, as 
I have seen done to great effect.  Or -- my personal favorite -- the 
line might be taken as a false indication by Portia/Balthazar that s/he 
is completely evenhanded.

In short, it seems to me that Mr. Basch has inadvertently provided 
support for the idea I floated during the roundtable that theoretical 
labels like "historicism," "presentism," etc., say more about the 
critics than about the author or his plays.

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Donald Bloom <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Monday, 20 Aug 2007 15:12:45 -0500
Subject: 18.0542 Redheads
Comment: 	RE: SHK 18.0542 Redheads

I confess to being a little frustrated by many of the responses to this 
topic.

On the one hand, it seems to be generally true that, when associated 
with Judas or with Jews, red hair was a sign of an evil character.

On the other hand, red hair is a moderately common variant among people 
of Celtic and Germanic origins -- including, as has been pointed out, 
the queen and both her parents.

I would gather then that there is no negative association with red hair 
outside the Jew / Judas association.

Or is there?

At various times people with red hair have been thought to have "fiery" 
tempers and a higher degree to sexual lust than others (see Gulliver). I 
also recall reading somewhere (Laurence Durrell, I believe, but other 
places, too) that red hair was (and is) considered unlucky in the Arabic 
world.

Does anybody know what's going on here?

With regard to temper and lust, we can guess that both are suggested by 
the fiery quality of the hair and the fiery quality of traits-rather 
simple, not to say simple-minded, folkloric association. But is that the 
thinking of experts in folklore?

With regard to Jews and Judas, does anybody know why or how they came to 
be associated with red hair? It would seem to be a very odd sort of 
connection, or does it have a common origin with the unluckiness still 
apparently sensed in the Middle East? Did one cause the other?

If anybody has any authoritative sources to supply, I would love to have 
them.

don

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Robert Projansky <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Monday, 20 Aug 2007 15:18:23 -0700
Subject: 18.0542 Redheads
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0542 Redheads

David Basch says:

That the "red wig" is not Shakespeare's characterization of Shylock is 
made abundantly clear when Portia arrives at the Venetian court and has 
to ask "Which is the Jew and which the merchant?" Obviously, Shylock has 
no distinguishing horns.

If there's anything obvious at all in that question, it's that who is 
who is obvious, not obscure. Portia doesn't have to ask anything because 
she is a total fraud here, appearing as 'Balthasar' to fix the case 
against Shylock and get her husband's pal off the hook. His/ her 
question is a phony one. She knows who's who.

The question may be many things: a smokescreen to establish - falsely - 
the judge's ignorance of the parties, or an expression - also false - of 
the judge's impartiality; maybe it's emblematic of the  philosophical 
and scholarly judge's indifferent ignorance of the  everyday 'real' 
world, or perhaps it's or an ironic dig at Antonio,  or a place for a 
sight gag re the judge's nearsightedness. Of course we can't know what 
WS intended that Q to mean as he wrote it. I suspect he meant all or 
most of the above (none of which does any disservice to the play), and 
all of these notions essentially depend on Shylock being easily 
distinguishable from Antonio. The audience knows who is who and unless 
the difference is obvious the line serves very little theatrical 
purpose. What I think is obvious is that on Shakespeare's stage which 
man was which must have been made obvious -- maybe with a hook-nosed 
Shylock sitting there redly bewigged.

Bob Projansky

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Branagh's _As You Like It_

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0546  Tuesday, 21 August 2007

From: 		Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Subject: 	Branagh's _As You Like It_

 From BostonHerald.com

http://theedge.bostonherald.com/tvNews/view.bg?articleid=1018127

Hard to 'Like': Branagh's adaptation of Shakespeare comedy just a pretender
By Mark A. Perigard/ Television Review
Boston Herald TV Critic

Tuesday, August 21, 2007 - Updated: 04:18 AM EST

How can someone stage "As You Like It" and botch the most crucial element?

Actor/director Kenneth Branagh adapts Shakespeare's classic comedy about 
mistaken identity and misreads the plot device for a footnote.

As anyone who read the play in high school knows, fair Rosalind 
disguises herself as a man so she and her cousin Celia can travel freely 
through a dangerous forest. There they encounter Rosalind's beloved, 
Orlando, and as "the fair youth" Ganymede, Rosalind tests the limits of 
Orlando's devotion to her.

As Rosalind pretending to be Ganymede, Bryce Dallas Howard ("The 
Village") wears trousers, ties her hair in a ponytail and puts a cap on 
her head.

It's as if Julia Roberts went out to the park to ride horses one day. 
Howard does nothing to change her mannerisms or her voice. She wouldn't 
fool a corpse.

Nobody's expecting something akin to Hilary Swank's Oscar-winning turn 
in "Boys Don't Cry." But even Gwyneth Paltrow tried to be convincing in 
her Oscar-winner, "Shakespeare in Love."

The Bard's satire of gender politics - which culminates in a mock 
wedding between Orlando and Ganymede - is robbed of its edge.

  (Mind you, your brain gets all twisty when you recall that in 
Shakespeare's day, boys played the girls' roles - so Rosalind would have 
been played by a boy pretending to be a girl pretending to be a boy.)

Branagh places this version in 19th century Japan, for apparently no 
other reason other than to make the opening moments seem like a Jackie 
Chan film. Masked warriors storm a home and stage a military coup.

So what is to like about "As You Like It"? The supporting cast is 
superb. Alfred Molina, dressed like Charlie Chaplin's The Tramp, through 
the forest greenery as the court jester Touchstone.

Romola Garai ("Vanity Fair") takes a few pratfalls as faithful Celia. As 
Orlando, David Oyelowo ("MI-5") sparks the screen. Unfortunately, his 
character seems terminally dumb for falling for Rosalind's charade.

As the melancholy Jaques, Kevin Kline is assigned the play's most 
enduring dialogue ("All the world's a stage . . ."), but Branagh 
undercuts the moment by filming Kline at a distance and through some 
forest branches.

Who knew a comedy about cross-dressing could be such a drag?

  "As You Like It" Tuesday at 9 on HBO. Grade: C+

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