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Home :: Archive :: 2010 :: January ::
Help Wanted - A Tiro's Questions
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0008  Thursday, 7 January 2010

[1] From:   Virginia Byrne <
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     Date:   Sunday, 27 Dec 2009 11:12:25 EST
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0625 Help Wanted - A Tiro's Questions

[2] From:   David Kathman <
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     Date:   Sunday, 27 Dec 2009 20:40:50 -0600
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0625 Help Wanted - A Tiro's Questions


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Virginia Byrne <
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Date:       Sunday, 27 Dec 2009 11:12:25 EST
Subject: 20.0625 Help Wanted - A Tiro's Questions
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0625 Help Wanted - A Tiro's Questions

Ok here's my input and I am sure if incorrect I will be corrected.

 >3. (a) Is there any general theory, i.e., a theory that stretches across
 >the plays, to explain the shifts from verse to prose, from prose to verse?

Verse  to prose depended upon the rank of the speaker or the person 
spoken to.

 >(b) Are there ways in which this theory can be applied to The Winter's
 >Tale where all of Autolycus's speech (I think) and much of the
 >Shepherds', is unversified?

That explains The Winter's Tale

 >4. When did a director, distinct from a member of the cast, become a
 >regular contributor to theatrical performances?

Director's didn't come into being until the 19th century

Whew. I can hardly wait for the corrections.

Virginia Byrne

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       David Kathman <
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 >
Date:       Sunday, 27 Dec 2009 20:40:50 -0600
Subject: 20.0625 Help Wanted - A Tiro's Questions
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0625 Help Wanted - A Tiro's Questions

Brian Bixley wrote:

 >1. Were Shakespeare's plays performed during his lifetime by
 >troupes other than those - the Chamberlain's Men, the King's Men -
 >with which he was associated?

Not after the founding of the Chamberlain's Men in 1594, as far as we 
can tell. Before that, Shakespeare's plays were performed by several 
different companies (definitely Strange's/Derby's, Pembroke's, and 
Sussex's; possibly the Queen's and others), which Shakespeare himself 
may or may not have been connected with as an actor. This whole question 
is a very complicated and contentious one, most recently summarized by 
Terence G. Schoone-Jongen in Shakespeare's Companies (Ashgate, 2009).

 >2. (a) Of the 36 plays in the First Folio, half had pre-existing Quartos,
 >half were derived from manuscripts, foul papers, prompt books. Do
 >some/most/all of those Quartos, ms., etc., i.e., some early written
 >version of the plays, still exist? If so, where are they?

All of the printed quartos used by the printers of the First Folio 
survive, which is how we know that the Folio was based on them; however, 
we don't necessarily have the specific copies used by those printers. 
None of the manuscripts used by the Folio printers survive; the 
existence and nature of those manuscripts has only been inferred by 
features of the printed texts, starting with the New Bibliographers in 
the early 20th century. The nature of the copytexts underlying the Folio 
is another contentious one, especially since various scholars over the 
past 30 years or so have challenged many of the narratives put together 
by the New Bibliographers.

 >(b) When were Pericles and The Two Noble Kinsmen added to the
 >canon, and on the basis of what - quartos, manuscripts?

There was no single moment when Pericles and The Two Noble Kinsmen were 
"added to the canon", since no single authority determines what the 
"Shakespeare canon" is. Those two plays were long included among 
doubtful plays that had been attributed to Shakespeare in the 17th 
century but were not accepted as being written by him, because they were 
not included in the First Folio. Starting in the second half of the 19th 
century, some editors began to accept the idea that Shakespeare 
coauthored either or both plays, and began to include them in editions. 
This idea remained somewhat controversial until the second half of the 
20th century, when the idea of Shakespeare as collaborator became more 
acceptable and it became more widely accepted that he was part-author of 
Pericles and TNK, probably with George Wilkins and John Fletcher 
respectively. Since there are no contemporary manuscripts of either play 
-- or of any Shakespeare play, for that matter -- the evidence has come 
from a combination of Shakespeare's name on title pages (by himself in 
the 1608 quartos of Pericles, with Fletcher in the 1634 quarto of TNK) 
and stylistic features of the plays themselves. This evidence was most 
thoroughly summarized by Brian Vickers in Shakespeare, Co-Author 
(Oxford, 2002) and by MacDonald P. Jackson in Defining Shakespeare: 
Pericles as Test-Case (Oxford, 2003).

 >3. (a) Is there any general theory, i.e., a theory that stretches across
 >the plays, to explain the shifts from verse to prose, from prose to verse?

Shakespeare's use of verse and prose has long been discussed by too many 
critics to count, though I'm not sure about a "general theory". Various 
people, starting with F. G. Fleay and his crowd in the late 1800s, have 
tried to quantify this use.

 >(b) Are there ways in which this theory can be applied to The Winter's
 >Tale where all of Autolycus's speech (I think) and much of the 
Shepherds',
 >is unversified?

It has long been recognized that the speech of clowns and other 
low-status characters like Autolycus tends to be in prose, with the 
speech of high-status characters more likely to be in verse -- not just 
in Shakespeare, but generally in the drama of that era. You can find 
some discussion in most collected editions of Shakespeare, and in more 
detail in such books as George T. Wright's Shakespeare's Metrical Art.

 >4. When did a director, distinct from a member of the cast, become a
 >regular contributor to theatrical performances?

Not until the late 19th century, when the person we today call the 
director was called the "producer". (The first recorded use of the word 
in that sense is from 1891.) Tiffany Stern's Rehearsal from Shakespeare 
to Sheridan (Oxford, 2000) discusses how actors prepared for 
performances before that.

Dave Kathman

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