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Home :: Archive :: 2010 :: February ::
Staying Entries

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0074  Wednesday, 17 February 2010

 

[1]  From:      Bob Grumman < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:      February 17, 2010 7:23:08 AM EST

     Subj:      Re: SHK 21.0070  Staying Entries

 

[2]  From:      Donald Bloom < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:      February 17, 2010 11:37:32 AM EST

     Subj:      RE: SHK 21.0065  Staying Entries 

 

[3]  From:      Jim Marino < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:      February 17, 2010 3:48:49 PM EST

     Subj:      Re: SHK 21.0070 Staying Entries 

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

From:         Bob Grumman < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         February 17, 2010 7:23:08 AM EST

Subject: 21.0070  Staying Entries

Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0070  Staying Entries

 

>But Shakespeare wasn't interested in his plays as literature: 

>poetry was the thing for him.

 

John Briggs

 

Well, he did tell me when last I channeled him that literature didn't mean a rap to him. The trouble is, you can never tell whether the old boy is pulling your leg or not. My own opinion is that he had to have been interested in his plays as plays. Otherwise, why not write just narrative poems, or romances? Not to forget his financial interest in his plays' drawing lots of spectators. Since he did write narrative poems, too, and sonnets, and seems to like playing with words, it's hard to believe he didn't also want to write poetry. As for writing literature that would last, as a (commercially failed) dramatist myself, I find it hard to believe he wouldn't have also wanted people to read his plays. He knew plays of his time were published and read, and that Plautus's, Seneca's and others from over a thousand years previously were read as literature. So I find it hard to believe he didn't hope his would, too. That brings to my mind a question, though: how would he write a play differently if he hope for its publication than he would if he merely wanted it to satisfying spectators at a theatre? I don't see that it would. I feel he'd just try to load everything of value into it that he could, which would include bits a first-time viewer of the play might miss but a reader--or someone seeing it more than a few times--would appreciate.

 

--Bob

 

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:         Donald Bloom < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         February 17, 2010 11:37:32 AM EST

Subject: 21.0065  Staying Entries

Comment:      RE: SHK 21.0065  Staying Entries

 

Because a play might bring a few pounds when sold to a publisher does not suggest to me that playwrights, including the subject of this list, wrote them with that idea in mind. Plays are purchased by readers because they have been successful as stage productions, so they are published for the same reason. Demand leads to supply.

 

Drama companies in Shakespeare's day (like movie studios and television networks today, and radio before that) needed scripts that would make money by garnering large audiences. They purchased the scripts they thought would do this. Writers attempted to supply the scripts that would get purchased since they also needed to make money. As a playwright your first priority then (as now) was to write a play that would draw paying customers. Being too conscious of secondary publication possibilities would tend to be distracting in just the way that being too conscious of posterity ("the bubble reputation") would.

 

I am still inclined to the theory that the "good" quartos only appeared because the "bad" quartos had come out. Since anybody would now be able to get some version of Shakespeare's Hamlet, they might as well get the correct version (or A correct version). I sometimes shudder at the thought of how close we came to losing the whole business, since the author did not seem to think about his plays even after he retired. Fortunately, two of his old partners did.

 

Cheers,

don

 

(Today, if you are concerned about making money from direct publication and sales, you write novels and hope for best-sellerdom. Heaven help you if you write a play with that idea in mind.)

 

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:         Jim Marino < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         February 17, 2010 3:48:49 PM EST

Subject: 21.0070 Staying Entries

Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0070 Staying Entries

 

Replying to Tom Reedy:

 

The Master of Revels licensed specific plays to specific acting companies. The approval to perform was also a license for exclusive performance. So the Chamberlain's Men, for example, could not begin acting Dr. Faustus simply because that play had been published.

 

It does seem that amateur and provincial players did not always recognize these rules the way that the professional companies around the Court did. There are references (albeit mostly literary evidence) to amateur productions, and policing the rules could have been tricky at sufficient distance from London.

 

There is a case, noted by C.J. Sisson, of players in Yorkshire who had been performing Pericles and Lear before getting brought before the Star Chamber for other offenses. They believed, or purport to believe, that they were permitted act those plays because the scripts had been approved for publication by the censor. They were told that the permissions were distinct, and that they had been given no license to act Pericles or Lear.

 

Jim Marino

 

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