MV Dialog

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.355  Thursday, 30 July 2015


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

Date:         July 29, 2015 at 12:26:07 PM EDT

Subject:    Re:  MV Dialog


The problem with simply claiming that “the examples he gives don’t qualify as evidence, at least not without a supporting statistical analysis” without actually proving it, is that the claim can be turned on its head: Prove with statistical analysis that the associations are not evidence that “man” could bring to mind “Mantua” in Shakespeare’s mind.


The number of “M” words associated with “Mantua” per occurrence of “Mantua” is greater than that associated with “Padua” per occurrence of “Padua”.  The reverse situation exists for “P” words. This is true despite the fact that “me” and “my” are commonplace words that take up over 19,000 of the total number of “m” words in the folio (52,967 according to WordCruncher):


19 "Mantua"   M words 25  25/19 = 1.3    P words 11  11/19 = 0.58


29 "Padua"    M words 26  26/29 = 0.90   P words 25  25/29 = 0.86


Coin flips have nothing to do with word/sound frequencies in an English text. Coin flips are not contingent on one another as words are, and any clusters of flips convey no information, because the clusters themselves are random.


There are 1,806 occurrences of “man” in the folio according to WordCruncher, about 1.7 per 100 lines in the folio. Including words with the syllable “man” in them brings the total to 4,682. Yet there are 38 instances of “man” and “man” in the same line, for example:


A young MAN married is a MAN that's marr'd:      AWEW 2.3.298


owe no MAN hate, envy no MAN's happiness         AYLI  3.2.74


and many more with “man” repeated in another line, such as:


I have had a dream, past the wit of MAN to

say what dream it was: MAN is but an ass, if he go

about to expound this dream. Methought I was—there

is no MAN can tell what. Methought I was,—and

methought I had,—but MAN is but a patched fool, if

he will offer to say what methought I had. The eye

of MAN hath not heard, the ear of MAN hath not

seen, MAN's hand is not able to taste,            MSND 4.1.205-212


and at least as many instances of “man” followed by a word with the syllable “man” in it, on the same or separate lines, for example:


There is the MAN of my soul's hate, Aufidius,

Piercing our RoMANs:                              Cor 1.5.10-11


I know a MAN that had this trick of

melancholy sold a goodly MANor for a song.        AWEW 3.2.8-9


A MAN of thy profession and degree;

And for thy treachery, what's more MANifest?      1H6  3.1.20-21


Here is the MAN, this Moor, whom now, it seems,

Your special MANdate for the state-affairs        Oth 1.3.71-72


and many instances of a word with the syllable “man” in it followed by another word with that syllable, for example: 


You shall deMANd of him, whether one Captain Dumain

be i' the camp, a FrenchMAN; what his reputation is  AWEW  4.3.175-176


A most MANly wit, Margaret; it will not hurt a

woMAN: and so, I pray thee, call Beatrice          MAAN 5.2.15-16


distract it with 

MANy, either to have it sterile with idleness, or MANured 

with industry,                                            Oth 1.3.118-120 


The total number of these consonantal and syllabic echoes is in the hundreds.


So, if someone wants to prove that these things are coincidences, I’m all for it. Consonantal echo and alliteration are standard, deliberate poetic techniques so I don’t think that will happen. The only question in my mind is: could such technique accidently take precedence over meaning, such as the “man”/”Mantua” combination in Merchant.



Jim Carroll


From TLS - ‘Sans taste’

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.354  Thursday, 30 July 2015


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

Date:         July 27, 2015 at 3:20:10 PM EDT

Subject:    From TLS - ‘Sans taste’


[Editor’s Note: I have been catching up on TLS and discovered a number of Shakespeare –related articles. I will provide excepts here; and if anyone wishes the entire article and does not have access to TLS, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. -Hardy]


Sans taste but with teeth


15 July 2015


Ben Jonson


Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, until 12 September


William Shakespeare


Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, until 28 August


Holding hands across the gulf of four centuries, Trevor Nunn and Ben Jonson make perfect creative partners. More than any other living director, Nunn believes in trusting the text. In the case of Volpone – neatly but not excessively trimmed and re-edited by Ranjit Bolt – this is the right approach. Some previous productions have, for instance, excised or cut down the second scene, with its witty enactment of metempsychosis performed by Volpone’s trio of household entertainers: the Dwarf, the Hermaphrodite and the Eunuch (Jon Key, Ankur Bahl, Julian Holt). Perhaps this mini-masque has struck directors as too offbeat and recondite to secure full audience attention so early on in the play. Here, however, it is performed both beautifully and repellently, working exactly as it should in introducing us to the wolfish protagonist’s idiosyncratic household pleasures.


Nunn accentuates the continuing topicality of Jonson’s “City Comedy”, replacing the perilous “Venice” which originally stood for Jonson’s own London with immediately recognizable allusions to the Square Mile of today, in all its metallic and digital urgency. Video projections are used to flag up moment-by-moment fluctuations in share prices, or else to display flickering Emergency Ward zig-zags which notate the supposedly failing heartbeats of a very sick old man. With the aid of security cameras outside Volpone’s city mansion we also witness the arrival of each predatory visitor on his host’s doorstep. If technology can be witty, this is.


As performed by Henry Goodman, the play’s “childless, rich” and allegedly also “sick” protagonist, is a star. His split-second mutations into the Seventh Age of Man – “Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything” – are accomplished with the handy application of a tightfitting geriatric-bald-wig. But even more of Volpone’s rapid ageing is performed by Goodman himself through assured mastery of voice, face and body language. His efficient deception of his first greedy visitor, Corbaccio, is immediately acknowledged by the audience as riotously, though tastelessly funny – humour that becomes more gloriously outrageous with the arrival of each successive client. Much is owed to the witty Mosca (Orion Lee), whose insect-like flickerings and squirming contortions are among various peculiarities that make him the perfect frontman to the quick-change Volpone.


[ . . . ]


Historical and theatrical authenticity are not for the most part features of the RSC ’s Othello. Yet this includes (perhaps by chance) one remarkable example. We know little about the scenes or passages which left the strongest impression on early audiences of Elizabethan and Jacobean plays. Yet a surviving record relates to a performance of Othello which took place in Oxford in September 1610. It was viewed by a young scholar soon to become a Fellow of Corpus called Henry Jackson. He was especially struck by the dying moments of Desdemona, who “pleaded her case very well”, and “moved (us) more after she was murdered, when lying on the bed she appealed to the spectators’ pity with her very expression”.


Jackson here alludes to the passage in which the violently smothered Desdemona, implored by Emilia to “speak again”, recovers just enough breath both to affirm her innocence – “A guiltless death I die!” – and to forgive her murderous, manic, husband : “Commend me to my kind lord – O, farewell!”. Hitherto, I had seen Jackson’s account as reflecting an audience more readily moved to tears than a modern one, or else perhaps showcasing the poignant fragility of a boy player. No previous Othello has moved me to tears as Desdemona lay dying, but this one did. The affective power of her slow death here was the more remarkable because Joanna Vanderham’s Desdemona had up to that point seemed rather charmlessly self-assured. Also, most of what went before had been so brutal that we might by this late stage have found ourselves emotionally numbed.



[ . . . ]


From TLS - 'Cultural Studies'

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.353  Thursday, 30 July 2015


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

Date:         July 27, 2015 at 2:59:36 PM EDT

Subject:    From TLS - 'Cultural Studies'


[Editor’s Note: I have been catching up on TLS and discovered a number of Shakespeare –related articles. I will provide excepts here; and if anyone wishes the entire article and does not have access to TLS, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. -Hardy]


Cultural Studies


1 July 2015


Patricia Lennox and Bella Mirabella, editors


312pp. Bloomsbury. £65.

978 1 4725 2507 9


A modest inventory of the costumes of the Admiral’s Men in 1602 included fourteen cloaks, thirteen gowns, fifteen antic suits and ten pairs of hose. Perhaps some actors wore their own clothes on stage. Four hundred years later, the Royal Shakespeare Company employs twenty-eight workers in its costume workshops, has replaced zips and Velcro with industrial strength magnets, and mixes up its own mud to distress boots and shoes. Shakespeare and Costume traces the art and business of dress from early modern theatre to Hollywood cinema, and from the visual construction of oriental masculinity to the archaeological findings at the Rose theatre.


The collection is strongest on early modern material. Two substantial essays by Catherine Richardson and Natasha Korda each bring together thing theory, social history, and an awareness of performance in an exemplary critical dialogue. Richardson’s focus is clothing in Shakespeare’s bourgeois comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor. She traces the visual economy of the play’s shaming narratives, drawing on church courts, conduct literature and its literal dirty linen – the laundry basket of inner garments into which the would-be seducer Falstaff is stuffed. Korda notices how many stage directions emphasize expressive foot movements such as standing, stamping or, in Richard Brome’s Court Begger, “practise footing”, and suggests that dramatic character was grounded in actors’ footwork. Elaborate performance shoes and stockings in a range of colours added to this effect.



Essays on more modern sumptuary topics are enjoyably well informed, though tend only to gesture towards a larger thesis. Russell Jackson considers the plausibility of Rosalind’s male disguise in a series of As You Like Its, including Katharine Hepburn’s “elegant leg” in New York in 1950 and Eileen Atkins’s “immaculately tailored pantsuit and a bandanna” in Stratford in 1973. Kate Dorney reviews prisoner-of-war production costumes, including sketches by the cartoonist Ronald Searle. Surveying the starched headdress across a number of representations of Juliet’s Nurse, Patricia Lennox traces how this iconic look symbolizes the power of early women stage designers in the twentieth-century theatre. The book ends with interviews with two contemporary designers. These are a little flat, although Robert Morgan’s observation that “it is very tough to find modern equivalents to traditional historical dress that you can mute so as not to appear merely clever” is a fascinating insight.


Review: Richard II, Shakespeare’s Globe

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.352  Thursday, 30 July 2015


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

Date:         July 28, 2015 at 4:25:03 PM EDT

Subject:    Review: Richard II, Shakespeare’s Globe


[Editor’s Note: The following review is from The Independent. –Hardy]



Richard II, Shakespeare’s Globe, review: The journey from unfeeling monarch to frightened human being pierces the heart

Wednesday 29 JULY 2015


Simon Godwin’s lucid and compelling production begins with its own added prologue. The 10-year-old Richard is anointed and crowned with solemn pomp and circumstance on Paul Wills’s spectacularly gilded set, with its cross-shaped fore-stage. The Archbishop of Canterbury declares in the exact words later used by the monarch that “Not all the waters in the rough, rude sea/ Can wash the balm off from an anointed king”. In a swirl of gold confetti, the boy is replaced by the adult Richard, identically dressed in a rich ivory coat, who assumes the Gothic throne and archly tosses his own mini-shower of the celebratory stuff over himself.


Without in any way sentimentalising what follows, this opening ritual makes you appreciate more fully the damaging effects of being brought up, from childhood, to believe that your power is God-given and unassailable. It also helps to underline how, in the deposition scene, Richard upstages Bolingbroke by asserting his sole right to conduct a pointed coronation ceremony in reverse (“With mine own tears I wash away my balm”) when he hands him the crown.


Charles Edwards’s excellent Richard seems to swan around in a micro-climate of snooty entitlement. When harangued by the older generation for letting the country go to rack and ruin, he adopts the air of someone trying to keep patience with fools from another species. Don’t they know he’s allowed to do what he likes? Often cast in debonair roles, the actor portrays the king as effete but not effeminate and brings a lovely light touch to the black comedy of Richard’s blithe self-centredness. His mouth gives a little musing, aesthetic quiver as if he is considering what colour of fabric to choose, rather than the number of years to pluck away from Bolingbroke’s banishment.  David Sturzaker is a passionate, enigmatic usurper who keeps you guessing about whether Bolingbroke returns to England with a long-term strategy of seizing more than just his hereditary rights.


[ . . . ]





Henry V in Original Pronunciation

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.351  Thursday, 30 July 2015


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

Date:         July 29, 2015 at 8:20:36 PM EDT

Subject:    Henry V in Original Pronunciation


Henry V in Original Pronunciation

Ben Crystal - Passion in Practice

Tuesday, 4 August 2015 at 20:00 - Wednesday, 5 August 2015 at 22:00 (BST)

London, United Kingdom


Henry V - in Original Pronunciation


Fresh from a staged reading at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare’s Globe; Ben Crystal brings his Passion in Practice Shakespeare Ensemble back to the Loft at Tanner Street.


Join us for the full production performance of Henry V in Original Pronunciation


Performance time: 8 O'Clock - Runtine 2 hours

Watch a 10 minute intro to OP here



Ben Crystal - Passion in Practice


Ben is the artistic director of Passion in Practice and was the co-writer of Shakespeare’s Words (Penguin 2002) and The Shakespeare Miscellany (Penguin 2005) with his father David Crystal. His first solo book, Shakespeare on Toast – Getting a Taste for the Bard (Icon 2008) was shortlisted for the 2010 Educational Writer of the Year Award.



A quartet series for Arden Shakespeare / Bloomsbury - Springboard Shakespeare was published June 2013, You Say Potato: A Book about Accents September 2014, and An Illustrated Dictionary of Shakespeare was published April 2015 with OUP.


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