2009

Playing Iago

The ShakespeConference: SHK 20.0204  Thursday, 30 April 2009

[1] From:   Louis Swilley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
     Date:   Tuesday, 28 Apr 2009 13:59:29 -0700 (PDT)
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0194 Playing Iago

[2] From:   Joseph Egert <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
     Date:   Wednesday, 29 Apr 2009 15:50:29 -0700 (PDT)
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0187 Playing Iago


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Louis Swilley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Tuesday, 28 Apr 2009 13:59:29 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 20.0194 Playing Iago
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0194 Playing Iago

John W Kennedy <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

 >It is the duty of every director and every actor of roles of
 >villains to make him/her as sympathetic to the audience as
 >possible. In the recent Alley production of "Othello",
 >Desdemona knelt before  Iago, weeping and begging him to
 >help her convince Othello of her  devotion; Iago moved his
 >hand over her bowed head and was about to  caress it in
 >sympathy - but then quickly brought his hand behind his
 >back with his fist clenched.
 >
 >In other words, he rudely and impertinently intruded something into
 >the play's text that is not there.

[L. S.: How does this moment of Iago's sympathy for Desdemona radically 
alter the text? It is, after all, Othello against whom Iago is working, 
not Desdemona. Is it essential to Iago's portrayal that he should NEVER 
show any doubt or regret about what he is doing?  Should we not be 
carfeful that we not present a villain as a sociopath?]

 >Unfortunately there was nothing else in the production to pick up on
 >and continue or reflect  this humanizing moment for the character. In
 >a long-ago production of "Romeo and Juliet", John Woodvine as Capulet
 >raged against his daughter for refusing to marry Paris   --   but broke
 >into tears in the midst of his rage.
 >
 >Thus making complete hash of the plot, which demands that Juliet find
 >herself trapped with no exit.

[L. S.: There was no exit offered. Capulet's weeping did not change his 
determination to see Juliet married to Paris, nor need it. ]

 >These humanizing corrections are necessary; otherwise we are merely
 >given the one-dimensional, "you-must-pay-the-rent" villain of cheap
 >drama.
 >
 >Is cheap sentiment, then, the only alternative? I have known men as 
devoid
 >of conscience as Iago, and they wasted no time on crocodile tears, for 
they
 >were quite certain that they were in the right, in whatever mad sense 
"right"
 >bore for them.

[L. S.: Isn't "mad" the operative word here?  A mad (insane) character 
has no moral responsibility for his actions and therefore very little 
potential as a dramatic figure; he has become merely pathetic. He is no 
more than a deadly storm or plague - or a mad Ophelia. We miss the 
complexity of Iago's tormented character if we excuse him as mad.(Even 
Milton's Satan momentarily regrets his decision to destroy the happiness 
of Adam and Eve. Is he not the more moving character for that?) ]

  [L. Swilley]

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Joseph Egert <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Wednesday, 29 Apr 2009 15:50:29 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 20.0187 Playing Iago
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0187 Playing Iago

Alan Pierpoint writes:

 >"Years ago I saw a stage actor play Richard III and Iago within the 
span of two
 >or three years, the former most entertainingly and the latter pretty 
much the
 >same  --  archly, with a see-how-wicked-I-am wink at the audience. It 
worked with
 >Richard  --  the role invites an amused, self-referential 
interpretation   --  but I
 >felt that it trivialized the role of Iago. The character is just evil; 
the usual
 >explanations of racism and resentment about being passed over just don't
 >account for his evilness."

Iago's class resentment seems deep and abiding in both his conduct and 
ironic echoing of others' patronizing use of 'good' and 'honest'. Like 
Hamlet and Macbeth, he lacks advancement. He may be too perceptive, 
however, to be himself a racist yet ever ready to exploit the racism of 
his compatriots for his own ends. Iago's envy allegorically recalls of 
course the furious envy of the brightest angel Lucifer, darkening as he 
fell, against his Lord for favoring the human Adam (Cassio?) and later 
the redeemer Jesus (the sacrificial "no-body", Desdemona?).

"The actor playing Iago should play him as though he (actor and 
character) were a budding
serial killer[...]."

Budding? Both Othello and Iago have been trained serial killers for much 
of their lives in the endless wars that make ambition virtue.

Peter Groves relates:

 >"in the 1930s Olivier once played the part as motivated by
 >repressed homoerotic desire for Othello."

Such a conception of the role may be not be as unnatural as it first 
appears, given Iago's aside on 'clyster pipes' and report of Cassio's 
dream. Indeed, a creative director would have his Iago gesture bawdily 
on uttering the phrase "prae-posterous con-conclusions", which in all 
its senses may describe what the play as a whole is about. King James in 
his letters to his minions recounts their own leg-crossing bedplay, 
reminiscent of Iago's report. Italian friars and monks would thunder 
against the sodomy rife in their communities, branding this evil a 'fire 
in the city' or burning plague, inviting the wrath of God by flood or 
fire ("Fire and brimstone!"). In their sexual corruption, were the 
Christian 'Sodomites' all that different from their enemy 'Ottamites', 
ever maligned for buggary and promiscuity? Fearing divine wrath, 
Venetian authorities time and again sponsored harsh legislation against 
sodomy on their ships. Is this why the Turkish fleet drowned on changing 
destination from well fortified martial Rhodes (home of the Colossus, 
the Sun God HEL-ios) to passion-ridden Venereal Cyprus? Does it 
prefigure sun-burnished Ot-HEL-lo's own loss of martial constancy on 
untamed Cyprus? Is it Othello's last service to the state to slay the 
last Turk left standing, the Turk within, by suicide? Are both Iago and 
Othello in the end instruments of that state in executing both Desdemona 
and her lord for their gross revolt against Brabantio and his class? 
Isn't Othello the Signory's own still loyal Iago, punished in the end 
for daring to wed the noble Desdemona, both general and ensign fated to 
be dis-placed by the same 'noble' Lieu-tenant Cassio?

Joe Egert

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the 
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Othello and the Law

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0203  Thursday, 30 April 2009

[1] From:   Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
     Date:   Tuesday, 28 Apr 2009 15:15:08 -0400
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0192 Othello and the Law

[2] From:   John W Kennedy <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
     Date:   Tuesday, 28 Apr 2009 16:07:13 -0400
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0192 Othello and the Law


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Tuesday, 28 Apr 2009 15:15:08 -0400
Subject: 20.0192 Othello and the Law
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0192 Othello and the Law

Of course, there is no reason to believe that Shakespeare had any 
acquaintance with the laws of Venice (or Cyprus, which presumably would 
have been the same as that of Venice, as it was a Venetian colony). Law 
in Shakespeare usually reflects some notion of English law or is 
completely fanciful.

In any case, it seems clear that WS expected us to understand that 
Othello had violated some legal proscription, as Lodovico arrests him to 
answer for his actions:  " ... You shall close prisoner rest, | Till 
that the nature of your fault be known | To the Venetian State" 
(V.ii.335-37; Riverside).

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       John W Kennedy <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Tuesday, 28 Apr 2009 16:07:13 -0400
Subject: 20.0192 Othello and the Law
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0192 Othello and the Law

Emma Rees <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

 >A student has asked me whether Othello would have been punished
 >under Venetian (or Cypriot?) law for murdering Desdemona, or whether
 >this was somehow 'allowed' (I'm thinking here of the 'ancient
 >privilege of Athens' in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' where Egeus was
 >technically 'allowed' to put his daughter to death).

I don't know about the letter of the law in Venice, but as a practical 
matter, I imagine he would have gotten off. A Spaniard of similar rank 
certainly would have.


_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the 
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the 
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Shakespeare and Art

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0201  Thursday, 30 April 2009

From:       Marcia Eppich-Harris <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Wednesday, 29 Apr 2009 14:03:32 -0700
Subject:    Shakespeare and Art - Update

Dear SHAKSPER folks,

I am pleased to announce that Julie Newdoll's first painting in her 
Shakespeare series (Shakespeare: The Mirror up to Science) has been 
completed. If you would like to see a picture of the painting and read 
the description, please feel free to visit 
http://www.brushwithscience.com/Shakespeare/HamletCommit.html.

Four more paintings on _Hamlet_ and apoptosis are in the works. Other 
Shakespearean subjects will include _The Tempest_, _King Lear_, and 
several other plays.

Comments and questions can be sent either to me 
(This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or directly to Ms. Newdoll 
(This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

All the best,
Marcia Eppich-Harris

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the 
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the 
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

"Ophelia" A Five-Act Play

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0202  Thursday, 30 April 2009

From:       Tatiana Akhtman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Thursday, 30 Apr 2009 11:33:37 +0300
Subject:    "Ophelia" A Five-Act Play

"Ophelia" A Five-Act Play by Tatiana Akhtman

"The play certainly gives a new slant on Shakespeare's characters"
Artist Director theater company Strafford upon Avon
Steve Newman

In my 'Ophelia' I have tried to reveal the personality of Shakespeare's 
women characters. The women enter a dialog with the men and this dialog 
between men and women becomes the center of the drama. The play is my 
experience of reading Shakespeare and my attempt to answer the question 
'To be or not to be?'

http://www.netslova.ru/akhtman/ophelia_e.html

http://drama-ophelia.blogspot.com/

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the 
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the 
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Gary Taylor's Cardenio

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0200  Thursday, 30 April 2009

From:       Stefanie Peters <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Wednesday, 29 Apr 2009 15:25:46 +0100
Subject:    Gary Taylor's Cardenio

Does anyone have any information on Gary Taylor's 'creative 
re-construction' of Cardenio (by way of Lewis Theobald's Double 
Falsehood)? http://www.victoria.ac.nz/cardenio-colloquium/index.aspx

What is the definition of a 'creative reconstruction'? Did he try to 
edit out Theobald's parts? Did he use the 1612 Shelton translation of 
Don Quixote? And is Taylor's version meant to tell us something about 
the original Shakespeare and Fletcher Cardenio, or is it supposed to 
serve a different purpose?

Stefanie C Peters
www.stefaniepeters.com

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the 
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the 
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

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