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Home :: Archive :: 2012 :: February ::
Shakespearean Productions

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.060  Friday, 10 February 2012

 

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

     Date:         February 9, 2012 2:45:05 PM EST

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Productions

 

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

     Date:         February 10, 2012 12:50:57 PM EST

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Productions

 

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

     Date:         Friday, February 10, 2012

     Subject:     Shakespearean Productions

 

 

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

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

Date:         February 9, 2012 2:45:05 PM EST

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Productions

 

Dear Hardy,

 

I am in complete agreement with your assessment of the Shakespeare Theatre and, more importantly, of your celebration of the American Shakespeare Center. I first saw ASC play in the summer of 2002, and I have been hooked—deeply hooked—ever since. No one says it better than Stephen Booth, of course, but, when asked, I’ve described being at the Blackfriars for a play feeling like a celebration or the way a child feels on Christmas morning. In a word, it’s exhilarating. 

 

This isn’t to say that the Shakespeare Theatre doesn’t produce good work; it does. In fact, the theatres are so different in so many fundamental ways that it’s hard to compare them. And it even feels more like a difference in style. At ASC, you don’t just experience a production of a Shakespeare play (or a Marlowe, Middleton, or Marston—no one does so many productions of Shakespeare’s contemporaries) -- you experience house style that is the result of a crystal-clear a point-of-view, a point-of-view one that every member of ASC believes in!

 

I’m happy to say that ASC isn’t the only theatre restless to explore Shakespeare’s staging practices. The Chesapeake Shakespeare Company (www.chesapeakeshakespeare.com), located in Ellicott City, MD—a stone’s throw from DC—is just as hungry to reach its audiences with energy and with an ironclad commitment to privileging language above all. As an artistic associate of the company, I have to admit my bias, to be sure; but as a member of CSC, I can say, first-hand, just how committed we are to playing Shakespeare in ways that are, in your words, “completely accessible.”  

 

Thanks for starting a great conversation.

 

Kevin Costa

Education Director & Artistic Associate

Chesapeake Shakespeare Company

www.chesapeakeshakespeare.com

 

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

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

Date:         February 10, 2012 12:50:57 PM EST

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Productions

 

Dear Hardy Cook:

 

I think you’re talking about the differences between the convictions/beliefs of Ralph Cohen and Michael Kahn, both of who have strong opinions about how Shakespeare should be played.  They’re not alone.

 

Paul Barry

 

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

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

Date:         Friday, February 10, 2012

Subject:     Shakespearean Productions

 

Dear Kevin and Paul,

 

Thank you both for taking the time to respond to my attempt at provocation. 

 

Obviously, I would not have continued to pay for 1 to 4 subscriptions every year for the past 35 years if I had not gotten something out of attending the Shakespeare Theater.

 

And just as obviously, Ralph Cohen and Michael Kahn have strong opinions that inform the house styles of both institutions. However, I think I was trying to suggest some issues that transcend opinions.

 

All those many years ago, I wrote my dissertation on “Reading Shakespeare on Television.” What I was theorizing were matters of what strategies of Shakespearean production are effective/appropriate to then what we called the “small” screen. It was a cross-disciplinary study in English/Theater/Film. As a consequence of this immersion, I continue to think about what seems to work, or is appropriate if I dare go so far, to productions in different media, different conditions of production. 

 

When I attend a production of Verdi’s Otello, let’s say at the Kennedy Center Opera House, I expect to see the production in a HUGE space and hear performers doing the musical equivalent of declamation. However, I do not have the same expectation when I see/hear Shakespeare. Now, the logical response to what I have just typed is that I am now casting my points as expressions of my expectations—the theatrical experience as reader response. This would be a fair position. 

 

Let’s consider the space of performance for a moment. I have a preference for having my Shakespeare performed in more intimate rather than cavernous spaces. I find the dynamics of production deeply affected by the space in which it is performed. One could note the differences between acting styles on the 19th Century stage and on stages like the Globe reconstruction in London and the Blackfriars in Staunton. The space of performances of Shakespeare was only one of the issues I was hinting at in my initial post.

 

I was also alluding to matters of appeal to audiences, in I believe what was an overly polite way. But do not different convictions/beliefs/opinions have influences on the audiences to which those productions are directed and thus the audiences those productions attract, or can afford, and thus on accessibility in many senses?

 

I am not trying to lay down laws or strictures. I am genuinely interested in having discussions exploring various matters of Shakespeare as produced today.

 

I am going away for a few days to visit my younger daughter at her college and to see the Van Gogh exhibition in Philadelphia. Later next week, I am having surgery on my left hand and not knowing how long it will take me to regain my lightening fast (do not believe all that is written on SHAKSPER) typing speed, so I thought I would get some of my thoughts out now. Finally, apologies if I have been somewhat distracted as I composed this message, but Becca, that younger daughter, just introduced me to Christophe Maé, whose upbeat music I have been listening to as I wrote. One advantage of my having children relatively late in life is that they keep me young in so many ways.

 

Hardy

 
 

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