2009

Updating Shakespeare's Plays

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0395  Thursday, 23 July 2009

From:       Julie Sutherland <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Wednesday, 22 Jul 2009 11:01:47 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 20.0391 Updating Shakespeare's Plays
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0391 Updating Shakespeare's Plays

 >I applaud Eric Johnson deBaufre's bold stand for traditional staging.
 >And like him, I deplore the radical postmodern tendencies of Sir
 >William Davenant and of the Lord Chamberlain's Men.

I absolutely agree that there have been some abominable 'updatings' of 
Shakespeare, and equally abominable performances by women in 
Shakespeare. The worst productions I have seen, however, have been 
'true' to the text and context (acknowledging our limited understanding 
of that context, unless we want to challenge the inerrancy of Hamlet in 
*Hamlet*, but we all know where believing in the inerrancy of anything 
gets us).

There have been, in my opinion, some notable Canadian productions of 
Shakespeare in which women have played men's roles. Most notably -- and 
I leave it at two because, to be true and contextual to Shakespeare, I 
understand that brevity is the soul of wit (am I permitted to write 
that?  It is, after all, uttered by Polonius. Perhaps I should relegate 
myself to women's lines.) -- I would like to flag up *la tempete* (now 
of course this is a translation - perhaps those are abominations, too?) 
by Theatre Experimental des Femmes (1988, dir. Alice Ronfard) which was 
met with critical acclaim and which featured all women. I would also 
like to highlight Necessary Angel's *King Lear* (1995, dir. Richard 
Rose) with Janet Wright in the role of King Lear. Of course responses to 
both plays were mixed (there will always be purists in the audience), 
but overall these were critically acclaimed and have been noted in the 
annals of Canadian theatre as worthy productions.

Very briefly, in defense of updating, I only suggest that it falls into 
the philosophy of art that considers such things as the colourisation of 
film. Some like it; some hate it - but the truth as far as I know it 
remains that more people see classics as a result (I add here that I 
don't prefer seeing colourised versions of black and white films). The 
biggest defense, in my mind, against the colourisation of film is that 
it destroys the artist's original intention. If anyone can tell me what 
Shakespeare's original intention was -- beyond a shadow of a doubt, and 
beyond ensuring people saw his shows -- I will never again applaud an 
updated production of the Bard.

Respectfully submitted (though I know there is some tone, and for that I 
apologise),
Julie Sutherland


_______________________________________________________________
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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WS View of Vienna for M4M

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0394  Thursday, 23 July 2009

From:       John Chapot <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Wednesday, 22 Jul 2009 13:50:59 -0700
Subject:    WS View of Vienna for M4M

My wife has just completed costuming a new production of  _Measure for 
Measure_ for the reinvigorated Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival. While 
reading the play, I found myself wondering what moved the playwright to 
locate the action in Vienna. The play doesn't appear to have any 
location-specific details. To me, it amounts to Elizabethan London.

I wonder what was the Elizabethan concept of this distant Catholic city 
at the edge of the Ottoman Empire? Or did W.S. use it because it was 
terra incognita?

John Chapot
San Francisco

_______________________________________________________________
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.

SBReview_4: Margreta de Grazia's _Hamlet without

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0392  Wednesday, 22 July 2009

From:       David Basch <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Monday, 20 Jul 2009 22:37:24 -0400
Subject: 20.0371 SBReview_4: Margreta de Grazia's _Hamlet 
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0371 SBReview_4: Margreta de Grazia's _Hamlet 
without Hamlet_

Reading the review on Margreta de Grazia's book, HAMLET WITHOUT HAMLET, 
off the top of head, I agree with her assertions as reported by reviewer 
David Richman about the unwise, obsessive psychologizing of Hamlet that 
goes on in terms of modern psychological concepts -- Oedipus complexes, 
phallic deprivation and other such psycho-babble.

The idea that persons can be disturbed is ancient and there are ancient 
treatises about such disturbances that probe what it is that makes men 
mad or that saddles them with self-destructive traits like arrogance and 
blindness to reality. When plays are over written with such fashionable 
concepts that are more about the critic than about the play, we fail to 
honor these early dramatists and writers that had deep insight on human 
behavior.

What is confusing in the play, HAMLET, is that Hamlet comes off as 
dynamic, clever, brilliant, moral, and idealistic, so much so that 
audiences can scarcely notice that he lacks a healthy balance that 
brings these traits into harmony. Although Horatio in the play serves as 
a model to contrast what Hamlet lacks, Horatio's outsider role and 
penurious condition in Denmark lead audiences to underrate him, despite 
the fact that Hamlet presents a glowing praise of the virtues of his friend.

I was instructed by Ms. de Grazia's focus on the battle for national 
turf within the play that reaches down even to the microcosm of Hamlet's 
struggle with Laertes for the very "dirt" within Ophelia's grave.

Hamlet reveals how strong is his desire for his throne in his remark to 
his two college friends: "While the grass grows, [the horse starves]." 
The grass growing under a Hamlet, starved to posses his throne, he is 
not satisfied with waiting for Claudius to die and pass it on to him but 
cannot see an honorable way out of how things have developed. The coming 
of the ghost changes all that and puts Hamlet into fierce contention for 
justice and his throne in the events of the play.

The irony is that, even as Hamlet achieves his throne, he must moments 
later pass it on to another, the "unimproved" Fortinbras, and, in the 
words of Ecclesiastes, "who knows whether he shall be a wise man or a 
fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, 
and wherein I have shewed myself wise under the sun."

It had been a vain pursuit. The struggle for the throne having been 
bloody and in the end futile and undertaken, sadly, at the personal 
sacrifice of loving relations and loved ones, the very things that make 
life worth living. David Richman's splendid review suggest the kind of 
pithy insights that Ms. de Grazia offers in her book.

David Basch

_______________________________________________________________
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.

When Researching in London

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0393  Wednesday, 22 July 2009

From:       Jack Heller <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Tuesday, 21 Jul 2009 16:25:18 -0400
Subject: 20.0384 When Researching in London
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0384 When Researching in London

Colleagues:

Replies to my previous inquiries have been helpful. I hope that I ask 
further questions about doing research in London and England, answer in 
a public forum such as this might prove helpful to others as well. I 
have two further questions for now:

At $120 per day at Endsleigh, I may want to reduce the cost by sharing a 
flat. Is there some sort of way that researchers use to find each other 
and therefore make arrangements to share flats?

And would the major university, Oxford and Cambridge, have rooms 
available for visiting scholars?

Thanks again for the help so far, and for indulging these questions.

Jack Heller

_______________________________________________________________
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.

Updating Shakespeare's Plays

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0391  Wednesday, 22 July 2009

From:       Jim Marino <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Friday, 17 Jul 2009 11:28:03 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 20.0387 Updating Shakespeare's Plays
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0387 Updating Shakespeare's Plays

I applaud Eric Johnson deBaufre's bold stand for traditional staging. 
And like him, I deplore the radical postmodern tendencies of Sir William 
Davenant and of the Lord Chamberlain's Men.

Cheers,
Jim Marino

_______________________________________________________________
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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