2013

Invitation to Bryn Mawr College SPT HENRY IV Directed by Rebecca Cook

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0539  Saturday, 30 November 2013

 

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

Date:         Saturday, November 30, 2013

Subject:    Invitation to Bryn Mawr College SPT HENRY IV Directed by Rebecca Cook

 

I would like to invite anyone who would be in the west Philadelphia area December 5th, 6th, or 7th to the Bryn Mawr College Shakespeare Performance Troupe’s second production of the semester, HENRY IV, directed by Rebecca Cook. This is Rebecca’s debut at directing and the first time in memory that the SPT has mounted a history play. The performance will be staged in the Thomas Great Hall, which puts the Great Hall in Hogwarts to shame. 

 

 

 

 

The text relies most heavily on 1 Henry 4 but contains portions of 2 Henry 4 and the Epilogue to 2 Henry 4, performed by Rebecca Cook. Shakespeare dabbler Hardy Cook had a small hand in shaping this performance text. 

 

The production will have amazing costumes and dazzling fight scenes choreographed by a stage combat professional. The swords are pretty cool too.

 

I will be attending all three performances. If you come, please say hello. I am a Falstaff-looking guy sans cup of Sack but with a long ponytail. If you still don’t recognize me, I’ll be the guy beaming with fatherly pride.

 

Hardy

 

Bryn Mawr College Shakespeare Performance Troupe Presents

Henry IV

By William Shakespeare

Thomas Great Hall

December 5th, 6th, and 7th

7:30 pm

(Doors open at 7:00)

 

Creating Reality

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0538  Friday, 29 November 2013

 

[1] From:        Harry Berger Jr <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         November 26, 2013 at 10:55:15 AM EST

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Creating Reality

 

[2] From:        Michael Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         November 26, 2013 at 3:29:15 PM EST

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Creating Realit

 

[3] From:        Gerald E. Downs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         November 27, 2013 at 8:26:08 PM EST

     Subject:    Re: Creating Reality

 

 

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

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

Date:         November 26, 2013 at 10:55:15 AM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Creating Reality

 

Egan, your boring conflicts with Urkowitz and others are preempting attention from more useful and interesting comments about, say, Shakespeare (to choose a random example). So Berger suggests that Hardy ask you to carry on offline (which is this case would be better than carrying off online).

 

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

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

Date:         November 26, 2013 at 3:29:15 PM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Creating Reality

 

To David Richman: And what reality is it that Shakespeare “invented,” according to you and Verdi? That “nothing is but what is not”? That “she must die, else she’ll betray more men”? That “The course of true love never did run smooth”? All these things are possibly true, sometimes true but never always true. Shakespeare sometimes describes reality, interprets reality  and occasionally hopes for an uncertain reality. The lover, the lunatic and the poet are of imagination all compact, remember, in seeing something when there is “in reality” nothing.

 

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

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

Date:         November 27, 2013 at 8:26:08 PM EST

Subject:    Re: Creating Reality

 

When reading the notice of Anne Barton’s life in the LA Times I was also struck by an observation later cited by Michael Egan, of which he asks, “What does this mean?”

 

“. . . she argued that for the playwright, the stage, with its mirthful impersonations and flamboyant games, provided a buoyant symbol not of illusion but of reality itself.”

 

I suppose my response was more to the obituarist’s obiter dictum than to what Barton might have said. It is hard to take ‘modifier overload’ at face value when pondering reality (that’s hard enough already). Why must games be flamboyant to crank out symbols of reality? What is a buoyant symbol? Mirthful gives me the willies, and why can’t whining personations get real? Why couldn’t the symbol be of illusion? What is the difference between reality and reality itself?

 

Apparently the claim is that with the help of collected events the stage provides—not reality, but a symbol of reality. Respondents seem to skip the “symbol” part, which bypasses Egan’s “what does this mean?” Granting reality to symbols and other abstractions doesn’t mean they are equivalent to all kinds of reality. I believe thoughts, symbols, and illusions are real, each in their own ways, (therefore sharing reality). But it’s no good using these terms without some kind of separation. For example (the LA Times again): “What all this means is that bitcoins are real [not so in spell-check], in the sense of being units of value . . . but . . . not real currency because . . . (Hiltzik). It won’t do to say responses to theatrical events are more real than concrete realities unless one is content not to communicate.

 

The other day a dramatic moment was dredged from my memory (why, I don’t know): in Texas Across the River an Indian was knocked out of the saddle by a low-hanging limb. It was really funny—or so I thought in '66. In reality, the “Indian” mirthered in the impersonation was from the Bronx, whose real name was not Joey Bishop. But why not cast a real Indian, like Iron Eyes Cody? Well, in reality he was an Italian from New Orleans who became a symbol by crying in a TV spot, whose tear was really gelatin—an illusion if there ever was one. Why not note reality’s differences without labeling them symbols or mere reality, as if that has meaning. To me, the questioned citation is not very meaningful.

 

Gerald E. Downs

 

Creating Reality

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0536  Tuesday, 26 November 2013

 

[1] From:        David Richman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         November 25, 2013 at 1:17:28 PM EST

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Reality 

 

[2] From:        Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         November 25, 2013 at 3:07:15 PM EST

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Reality 

 

[3] From:        Michael Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         November 25, 2013 at 6:23:12 PM EST

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Reality 

 

 

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

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

Date:         November 25, 2013 at 1:17:28 PM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Reality

 

Didn’t Verdi remark that Shakespeare invented reality? Since Verdi invented a little reality himself, perhaps we can credit him with knowing something about the invention of reality. As to mirthful game-playing, aren’t Antony and Cleopatra full of games with each other from the first. “If sad, say I am dancing”, till Cleopatra’s final let’s pretend game when she wants to hear how Antony “takes my death.” 

 

David Richman

 

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

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

Date:         November 25, 2013 at 3:07:15 PM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Reality

 

“To sell your soul for the whole world is one thing Richard. But for Wales?”

 

I myself would for Carnarvonshire.

 

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

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

Date:         November 25, 2013 at 6:23:12 PM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Reality

 

I note that instead answering my questions, Steve Urkowitz chooses to patronize me. I had hoped he would rather discuss a sweeping generalisation that is clearly not applicable across the board. The issue is not whether there are any grimly humorous moments in tragedy, or potentially tragic outcomes in comedy. Obviously there are. The question is whether “life, awareness, art” are just hot air or not. I say no—do I have to defend that? Unfortunately modern Shakespeare commentary, completely ungrounded in the author’s social reality, is of the disappointing Steve Gasowitz variety.

 

Book Announcement: Shakespeare and Outsiders

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0537  Friday, 29 November 2013

 

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

Date:         November 29, 2013 at 10:06:04 AM EST

Subject:    Book Announcement: Shakespeare and Outsiders

 

Amazon has a 30% discount on all books until December 1—so it’s a good time to considering ordering my new book, Shakespeare and Outsiders, in paperback in the Oxford Shakespeare Topics series.

 

Some of Shakespeare’s most memorable characters are treated as outsiders in at least part of their plays-Othello, Shylock, Malvolio, Katherine (the ‘Shrew’), Edmund, Caliban, and many others. Marked as different and regarded with hostility by some in their society, many of these characters have become icons of group identity. While many critics use the term “outsider,” this is the first book to analyse it as a relative identity and not a fixed one, a position that characters move into and out of, to show some characters affirming their places as relative insiders by the way they treat others as more outsiders than they are, and to compare characters who are outsiders not just in terms of race and religion but also in terms of gender, age, poverty, illegitimate birth, psychology, morality, and other issues.

 

Are male characters who love other men outsiders for that reason in Shakespeare? How is the suspicion of women presented differently than suspicion of racial or religious outsiders? How do the speeches in which various outsiders stand up for the rights of their group compare? Can an outsider be admired? How and why do the plays shift sympathy for or against outsiders? How and why do they show similarities between outsiders and insiders? With chapters on Merchant of VeniceTwelfth NightOthelloKing LearThe Tempest, and women as outsiders and insiders, this book considers such questions with attention both to recent historical research on Shakespeare’s time and to specifics of the language of Shakespeare’s plays and how they work on stage and screen.

 

Reviews on Amazon by Phyllis Rackin, Michael Witmore, and Julie Bowman.

 

Marianne Novy

Professor of English

University of Pittsburgh

 

Creating Reality

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0535  Monday, 25 November 2013

 

[1] From:        Mari Bonomi <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         November 22, 2013 at 12:28:15 PM EST

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Reality 

 

[2] From:        Steve Urkowitz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         November 23, 2013 at 10:10:55 PM EST

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Reality

 

 

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

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

Date:         November 22, 2013 at 12:28:15 PM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Reality

 

Re: Michael Egan’s question about reality in, for example, A Man for All Seasons:

 

For me there is most emphatically a reality created, a reality in which I have lived virtually my entire adult life:

 

More: Why not be a teacher? You’d be a fine teacher, perhaps a great one.

 

Richard Rich: If I was, who would know it?

 

More: You, your pupils, your friends, God. Not a bad public, that.

 

Mari Bonomi

 

[Editor’s Note: My favorite line from A Man for All Seasons is “To sell your soul for the whole world is one thing Richard. But for Wales?” 

 

NB: My grandmother Margaret Morgan was Welsh.  –Hardy]

 

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

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

Date:         November 23, 2013 at 10:10:55 PM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Reality

 

Michael Egan wrote,

 

>I’m a great admirer of Steve Urkowitz but his parsing of 

>how the playwright’s (any playwright’s, i.e., all drama’s) 

>“mirthful impersonations and flamboyant games” creates 

>“reality itself” is just hot air, like the statement itself.  

>Perhaps he could note one or two “mirthful impersonations” 

>in say Macbeth or a flamboyant game in—let’s accept 

>his example—Antony and Cleopatra. The battle of Actium 

>maybe or that funny moment with the asp. At a stretch the 

>Porter may be said to “mirthfully impersonate” but he’s 

>famously a tension reliever not a creator of “reality itself.” 

>Perhaps Steve could tell us how in the comedies, where 

>we do indeed find mirthful impersonations and flamboyant 

>games, what “reality” is created in (say) Two Gentlemen 

>of Verona or even Twelfth Night? If you want a 

>non-Shakespeare example, how about Tamburlaine or 

>A Man for All Seasons or Equus?

 

Michael Egan has some trouble thinking about tragic drama as a participatory game, full of laughter even at the edges of death, or seeing “reality” in the fantastical inventions of comedy. So I’ll walk along with him a while, hoping that maybe he’ll learn to value the ephemeral smell of a rose even when it pierces with its thorns or the burning intensity of wet tears when laughing close to death. (I’m led to recall that magnificent testimony to flamboyant games by Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens, written in that laugh-a-minute year, 1938. or from the same neck of the woods, Breughel’s “Children’s Games” and a brilliant analysis of it, Edward Snow, Inside Breughel: The Play of Images in Children’s Games.)

 

Instead of calling it “just hot air” maybe think about fabricated realities as the poetic invention that turns biological rutting into Valentine’s songs and turns the bio-electrical cessation of heartbeat into the store-house of memory, value, and transcendent love. In Twelfth Night, unless we comprehend and feel Olivia’s grief at the opening as something recognizably “real” then we’re left with just a coy mistress. Sure, many productions won’t give you that recognition, and with them we experience a reduced potentiality for her later recovery of sexual excitement. Same at the moment when Orsino is ready to kill “the lamb that I do love to spite a raven’s heart within a dove.” If the player of Orsino can’t act the intensity of pain needed to prompt that line as “real,” then we’re in the safer, less intense world of Hallmark greeting cards. But, I hope, you see that his intensity still has to be feigned, acted, artificial, as the rhyme cues us to recognize. We can’t be led to believe that he’s really going out to kill that nice actor playing Cesario. We have to be able to fear AND laugh, or be at the edges of each.  And know that we are watching a simulacrum.  The actor has to be willing and able to display himself as ridiculous, as an impersonator who can in a moment to come laugh at himself (as Malvolio cannot). 

 

That’s what I do as a director—help actors bring their impersonations to a level of acrobatic beauty that audiences laugh while in awe, fear while in laughter, feel together with the others sharing the same sight.

 

One of the blessings of my life has been having a daughter who at maybe nine years of age painted the image of an anemone, maybe 15 x 24 inches. It’s so fine that I learned to look at flowers in whole new ways, as potentially painted images in addition to being biologically real objects.  

 

Yes, I confess, I’m indeed blowing hot air. It’s called “life,” “awareness,” “art.” Cleopatra is laughing when she knows that “we are for the dark.” During her final night, my darling wife Susan knew she was dying, and she yet was able to murmur a delightfully obscene Yiddish theater joke on her way. Caesar can’t laugh; his ironies go only as far as putting Antony’s revolted generals in the forefront of his battle line so that he may seem to spend his energies against himself. An explosion of laughter requires multiple intensely discordant awarenesses reconciled through the smile, the giggle, the guffaw.  Caesar has only his own point-of-view. Shakespeare wrings us with such wreaths of wisdom.

 

Walk with me? Or not.

 

Steve Walkowitz

 

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