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Home :: Archive :: 2009 :: August ::
The Ending of the Winter's Tale
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0462  Thursday, 27 August 2009

[1] From:   Jack Heller <
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     Date:   Thursday, 27 Aug 2009 11:15:01 -0400
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0459 The Ending of the Winter's Tale

[2] From:   Terence Hawkes <
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     Date:   Thursday, 27 Aug 2009 11:57:49 -0400
     Subj:   FW: SHK 20.0455 The Ending of the Winter's Tale


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Jack Heller <
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Date:       Thursday, 27 Aug 2009 11:15:01 -0400
Subject: 20.0459 The Ending of the Winter's Tale
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0459 The Ending of the Winter's Tale

I came up with the topic which began this line of discussion, requesting 
the titles for resources which could help a theatre program in its 
production of WT. I will note in passing that I have appreciated all of 
the suggestions, though now I have more suggestions than I have 
disposable income for purchasing them all. This may be shameless of me, 
but if anyone would like to give a suggested source directly, it can be 
done: purchase the item from Amazon and have it delivered to Shakespeare 
Behind Bars, c/o the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival (address information 
here: http://www.kyshakes.org/). I do not, by the way, have any direct 
financial ties to SBB and the KY Shakespeare Festival other than being 
an active supporter.

I appreciate the discussion of the WT's ending as or as not a 
"heterosexual male fantasy of forgiveness." In my initial request for 
suggestions for resources, I did not mention that I assist Shakespeare 
Behind Bars, but now I'd like to consider that ending in direct relation 
to SBB. Of necessity, SBB's production of WT will be all male, as of 
course were the play's earliest performances. The men in Shakespeare's 
time could leave the theatre to go afterwards to their wives, lovers, 
partners, friends or families. The notion of sexuality within prison, 
whether heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or whatever, is subjected to 
far more institutional and social regulation. I should note that the 
women's roles in SBB are not always relegated to those men who identify 
as homosexual or bisexual. The man who played Desdemona a few years ago 
was serving a sentence for assaulting his girlfriend and her mother with 
a knife. The man who played Lady Macbeth this year has identified 
himself as gay; the man who played Lady Macduff took his role as a way 
to consider his victim, of a murder he committed when he was, I think, 
seventeen.

I don't know how the men will choose their roles, and, by the way, I 
want to emphasize that unlike what occurs in most theatres, the men do 
choose their roles. But I don't think that the SBB men's relationship to 
the text of WT's ending will be easy to capture as a "heterosexual" 
fantasy of forgiveness, not because theirs will be homosexual instead, 
but because each performer, male though each one is, is going to bring 
his own experiences and ontology to the creation of the completed 
production.

Let's consider "fantasy" now: When Leontes begs for the breath of life 
to be returned to the "statue" of Hermione, Leontes gets what can never 
be given to the murderers among the men in SBB, the breath of life 
returned to their victims. Some of the men are into the third decade of 
their time in prison. I think they will know full well the unreality of 
the ending of WT. But then, do Macbeth and Othello provide the only 
route of truth for considering the experiences of inmates? If performing 
Shakespeare within prison really does have reformative value, then there 
is truth to the idea that an inmate has to learn to forgive himself too, 
to forgive himself for doing something ruinous to his own life. The 
ending of WT may be a fantasy; but if forgiveness itself is a fantasy, 
I'm not sure that many of our best activities can mantain their value.

Or, let me put it this way: on rare occasions, a few of the men, two or 
three, who had been in SBB committed suicide. On the other hand, of the 
almost 40 SBB men who have completed their sentences, to date, knock on 
wood, none has re-offended and returned to prison. How about that for a 
"miracle" ending?

Jack Heller

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Terence Hawkes <
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Date:       Thursday, 27 Aug 2009 11:57:49 -0400
Subject: 20.0455 The Ending of the Winter's Tale
Comment:    FW: SHK 20.0455 The Ending of the Winter's Tale

Adrian Kiernander does well to mention Simon Foreman. He attended the 
performance of The Winter's Tale at the Globe Theatre in London on the 
15th May 1611. Writing about it with vigour, he suggests a rather 
different perspective from the one we embrace. Why should he be dismissed?

T. Hawkes

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