SHAKSPER Reinvented: Fourteen Months Later


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0277  Thursday, 28 June 2012


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

Date:         Thursday, June 28, 2012

Subject:     SHAKSPER Reinvented: Fourteen Months Later


Dear SHAKSPER Subscribers:


It has been about fourteen months since SHAKSPER resumed service with a newly designed web site, a new format, and new procedures. 


The new site was designed to my specifications by the multi-talented Ron Severdia, using Joomla. Ron is an actor <http://rontheactor.com>, the founder of PlayShakespeare.com, the creator of the best Shakespeare iPhone/iPod/iPad text/performance app, the co-author of the O’Reilly publication Using Joomla: Building Powerful and Efficient Web Sites, the accomplished, award-winning web designer and creative director of Kontent Design: <http://kontentdesign.com/>.


The web site from my perspective is more intelligently organized than the original, which grew by accretion, and it is certainly easier on me. I have complete control over the content and can update it at any time I please. SHAKSPER’s new web address is SHAKSPER.net (rather than www.shaksper.net as before).


The old site ran from a server in my home office. One of the difficulties I had with the old site during its last few years was that since I was sending out so much mail in such a relatively short period, security software often blacklisted SHAKSPER, and as a result, many members were inadvertently lost. 


PlayShakespeare.com now hosts SHAKSPER. The PlayShakespeare service provider limits the amount of mail that can be sent any hour. As a result of this limitation, which obviates the problem I was having with being mistakenly identified as a spammer, daily digests appear in a different format and are distributed differently than they had been in the past. Rather than sending out individual digests grouped by the subject of the thread, I now send one daily “super” digest, in Joomla terms a “newsletter.” It took a while for me to come up with a format based on subscribers’ comments that satisfied me. The daily digests now can be read in an Internet browser, posts in the table of contents can be clicked and read separately or alternatively individual posts within the digest can also be read in your browser by clicking on the posting’s title in blue.


Further, the individual postings appear on the web site in the Current Postings section in a continuous (blog-like format) from the beginning of the year backwards to the present. 


Of particular importance to me, the SHAKSPER web site now has an Announcements sections. Submissions that I deem as important notices are distributed as postings to the subscribers and simultaneously as entries in the Announcements section. Subscribers and Internet users can thus located these in a more accessible way than having to scroll through the Current Postings or by using the Archive search function, which incidentally is quite powerful.


Much of the content on the site particularly in the Scholarly Resources section is available as pdf files that once opened can be saved easily. Also, I can now included attachments through embedded links in postings to pdf files with information like conference announcements or fliers. Previously, I was unable to include attachments. 


Other web site improvements include RSS feeds of Current Postings and Announcements and a button that enables those who wish to donate to support the work of SHAKSPER. Also, although SHAKSPER is not open to automatic subscription, an online form enables those interested to submit their names, e-mail addresses, and a brief autobiography. The biographical note is NOT part of an adjudication process; instead, it is an expression of interest and is a part of a database to which only the editor has access.


I am also proud of the content in the Scholarly Resources section. Scholarly Resources includes 

  • A Selected Guide to Shakespeare on the Internet (My Guide to Shakespeare-Related Internet Sources and Essay from which the list of resources was derived).



  • The SBReviews: SHAKSPER Book Reviews (SBReviews is a peer-reviewed collection of reviews of book of significance to students, teachers, scholars, and those who share their academic interests in the study of Shakespeare and of the theatre and literature of the Early Modern Period.)



  • SHAKSPER Roundtable Discussions (Periodic Roundtable discussions, concentrating on significant topics derived from issues of current interest in the discipline.)



  • Papers by SHAKSPER Members Seeking Critical Advice (As a service to its members, SHAKSPER makes selected papers for which the author would like comments available for a short time on the SHAKSPER server.)



  • Library of Essays (A selection of essays from past and current SHAKSPER members.)



  • SHAKSPER Reference Files (A variety of files for consultation)



  • Cook’s Tours (Discussion of specific Internet resources of interest to students and scholars of the Early Modern Period.)



  • Pedagogy: Teaching Resources (Resources that may be used in the teaching of Shakespeare and literature of the Early Modern Period)




I especially am pleased with the Pedagogy section that enabled me to recycle some of my teaching materials, PowerPoint presentations, links, and source materials for others to use in their teaching.


I have probably gone on for far too long, but I am curious about the reactions and opinions that subscribers have, with the distance of more than a year, regarding the new web site and changes in procedures. 


I am seeking substantive comments, not Hardy-you’re-the-greatest praise. 


What do you like not like?


What can be improved?


What additions might be useful?


If you were in charge, what would you change?


Best wishes,

Hardy M. Cook

Owner, Editor, Moderator of SHAKSPER


This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 



The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0276  Thursday, 28 June 2012


From:        Hannibal Hamlin <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         June 27, 2012 4:18:08 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Performance


On the matter of boy actors, Shakespeare’s heroines would likely have been played by surprisingly old boys (17-19?), since the age of puberty has been declining since then. (This is evident even in my own lifetime. When I was a choirboy, boys’ voices often changed at 14; now, I gather, the norm is 13 or even younger). This means a boy actor would not only be relatively mature, but he could be quite experienced. As for the matter of persuasiveness, I recommend taking in one of the authentic productions at the New Globe. I found Mark Rylance (admittedly moved on now) a startlingly convincing woman as Olivia in TN. It’s largely a matter of deportment and gesture, as well as intonation (nothing like the screechy characters Monty Python used to do).



Shakespeare YouTube Videos


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0274  Wednesday, 27 June 2012


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

Date:         Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Subject:     Shakespeare YouTube Videos


My daughters while cooking together had a question that brought their post-modern selves to look it up on Google. There they came across a short YouTube video that they immediately called me about. 


Shakespeare—The History of English

From Open University's The History of English in Ten Minutes




While looking for the URL. I also came across David and Ben Crystal’s YouTube video on Shakespeare: Original Pronunciation, also from the Open University:






Cahiers Elisabethains: 40th Anniversary Special Issue


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0275  Thursday, 28 June 2012


From:        Jean-Christophe MAYER <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         June 28, 2012 4:36:18 AM EDT

Subject:     Cahiers Elisabethains:  40th Anniversary Special Issue


Dear SHAKSPER List Members,


Cahiers Elisabethains is proud to announce the publication of its 40th Anniversary Special Issue: “Nothing if not Critical”: International Perspectives on Shakespearean Theatre Reviewing, guest edited by Paul Prescott, Peter J. Smith and Janice Valls-Russell. 


* Please note also that article submissions are now open for the next issues of the journal. 


Submissions can be send to either of Cahiers’s assistant editors: <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> or <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>


More information: <http://recherche.univ-montp3.fr/cahiers/>



Jean-Christophe Mayer and Nathalie Vienne-Guerrin

Co-General Editors

Cahiers Elisabethains




Introduction (Paul Prescott, Peter J. Smith, Janice Valls-Russell)


Theatre Reviewing a la mode des Cahiers (Janice Valls-Russell)




Academic Reviewing, Interculturalism and Committed Aesthetics: Syncretic Itineraries of a Reviewer (Nathalie Rivere de Carles)


Objective Reviews? No, Thanks! (Markus Marti)


Valuing Shakespearean Theatre Reviews (Rob Ormsby)


Surveying Survey (Rob Conkie)


“She will a handmaid be to his desires”: Theatre Reviewing in the Service of Education in Rex Gibson’s Shakespeare and Schools (Sarah Olive)


The Disappearing Audience: Reviewing Shakespeare in the UK (Irene Middleton)


When is a Theatre Record not a Theatre Record? (Jeannie Farr)


The Newspaper Review: Constructing an Understanding of Shakespearean Performance in Madrid (1900-1936) (Juan F. Cerda)


What Becomes of a Performance Through (Second-Hand) Quotations of (Second-Hand) Reviews? (Isabelle Schwartz-Gastine)




“So That’s Where That Phrase Comes From” Moments and Taffety Punks: Some Thoughts on the State of Theatre Reviewing in Washington, DC (Sara Thompson)


Reviewing the Reception of Yukio Ninagawa’s Shakespeare Productions (1999-2009) in the British and Japanese Press (Tomonari Kuwayama)


Reviewing Shakespeare in Bulgaria: Past and Present (Alexander Shurbanov & Boika Sokolova)


Shakespearean Performance Reviewing in Brazil (Margarida Gandara Rauen)

Reviewing Tunisian Productions of Shakespeare’s Plays under Bourguiba and Ben Ali (Francis Guinle)


Critical Conditions: Reviewing Shakespeare in South Africa (Colette Gordon)


Australian Newspaper Reviewers of Shakespeare: Writing with the Head or with the Heart? (Penny Gay)


Amateur Reviewing at the Avignon Festival: the “Mirror Group” (Florence March)


Afterword (Peter Holland)


Select Bibliography




From the Introduction:


Theatre reviews of Shakespeare’s plays tend — inevitably — to be overwhelmingly focused on the Anglophone scene. (…) Hence, academic thinking about Shakespeare theatre reviewing has hitherto tended to be dominated by what is happening on the UK stage, and the way it is being written about in the press, academic journals and, more recently, blogs. (…) All of the papers in this special edition of Cahiers Élisabéthains anatomize the critical conditions of the performance and reception of Shakespeare’s plays across decades and across continents. (…) Our aim has been to cast our net wide, to prospect further afield, to explore theatre reviewing of Shakespeare through other perspectives/nationalities/geographies/cultures. That these papers should be published in Cahiers is especially appropriate since it continues the journal’s own unique international tradition of theatre reviewing in its biennial numbers as well as the previous special issue of 2007 which covered the uniquely international range of productions offered by the RSC’s Complete Works Festival in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2006-2007. (…). We are delighted to include essays here which consider the place of Shakespeare reviewing in France, Switzerland, UK, Spain, Australia, Japan, Canada, South Africa, USA, Tunisia, Bulgaria and Brazil.


Contact/subscriptions: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0273  Wednesday, 27 June 2012


From:        Jack Heller <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         June 27, 2012 12:21:10 PM EDT

Subject:     Performance


>As soon as this thread began, I was reminded of the discussion 

>years back of the Simon Russell Beale’s Hamlet. I am not 



>I am also interested in how the “real” Hamlets (i.e., fixed and 

>stable) are known, except through performance.




This may be a late reply, but Hardy’s comment fits something I’ve discussed with several people recently. Last Wednesday, I attended the Shakespeare Behind Bars (Kentucky) performance of ROMEO AND JULIET. “Juliet” was performed by a middle-age former male skinhead, about as unlike in his own being from a thirteen/fourteen year-old teenage girl as a person can be.


But then, how persuasive were the boy actors in Shakespeare’s own time? Was Lady Macbeth a 14/15-year-old boy?


It would be easy to be condescending about the performances of a prison group, but the men worked on the play for about ten months before I saw the completion of their efforts. I am never going to confuse the inmate with Juliet herself, but the show as a whole wasn’t nearly as full of nonsense as some supposedly professional productions I’ve seen. The answer for every production, professional or amateur, is the same now as it was two centuries ago when it was first articulated, a WILLING suspension of disbelief. Once a person is willing, then we can tell if the effort has been rewarded.


There are no platonic ideal productions of any play.


Jack Heller

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