Chesapeake Shakespeare's Merchant

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.066  Sunday, 19 February 2012

 

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

Date:         February 16, 2012 1:13:09 PM EST

Subject:     Merchant Opens This Friday--Inside Scoop

 

This production is indoors at the 1820 Oliver’s Carriage House in Columbia, Maryland. With its huge beams and stone fireplace, this clearly isn't a theatre space, but we turn it into a great opportunity to experience Shakespeare as if it were in your living room. The lights are on, and the actors are only a couple of feet away from you. It’s a chance to see a lot of the careful, thoughtful work that’s gone into making these performances glow with passion. 

 

A fairy tale romance between Portia and Bassanio is assisted and encouraged by the generous merchant, Antonio. When Antonio must default on a loan, Shylock, an abused and bitterly vengeful Jewish moneylender, demands the gruesome payment of a pound of flesh and only the clever Portia seems able to save Antonio from the consequences of his anti-Semitism.

 

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE

at Oliver’s Carriage House, Columbia, Maryland

 

February 17 - March 24

Thursdays and Fridays at 8:00, Saturdays at 3:00 & 8:00

(no performances March 1, 2, 3, & 10)

 

Adults: $36

Seniors 65+: $29

Under-25: $15 (not recommended for children under 12) ticket service fees included in ticket price

 

Pay-What-You-Will Preview: Thursday, February 16 at 8:00

Extended Versions: Saturday, February 25 and Friday, March 23

 

Call 410.313.8661 (Mon. - Fri. 12:00 -4:30)

 

Shakespearean Productions

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.065  Monday, 13 February 2012

 

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

     Date:         February 11, 2012 9:10:23 AM EST

     Subject:     Re: Shakespearean Productions

 

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

     Date:         February 11, 2012 12:26:00 PM EST

     Subject:     Shakespearean productions

 

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

     Date:         February 11, 2012 4:08:34 PM EST

     Subject:     Re: Shakespearean Productions

 

[4] From:        Jemma Alix Levy <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         February 11, 2012 8:38:36 PM EST

     Subject:     Re: Shakespearean Productions

 

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

     Date:         Friday, February 10, 2012

     Subject:     Shakespearean Productions

 

 

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

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

Date:         February 11, 2012 9:10:23 AM EST

Subject:     Re: Shakespearean Productions

 

I agree with everything Hardy has said.  I also agree with Paul Barry that much depends on the variant visions of Ralph Cohen and Michael Kahn.  But not enough has been said about the companies themselves.  The ASC is blessed with a resident company of highly professional actors whose dedication to their craft and to Shakespeare and other Renaissance drama borders (nay, it crosses into) sacrifice.  They work with each other in almost every performance and to a large extent live in close proximity to each other.  Despite that, it seems they genuinely like and respect each other and have no observable professional jealousy.  I have to believe that this close-knit familial relationship is a significant factor contributing to the uniformly excellent productions they mount.

 

The ASC has my complete support and I hope we can all do what we can for them.

 

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

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

Date:         February 11, 2012 12:26:00 PM EST

Subject:     Shakespearean productions

 

Hardy,

 

The same concerns as your own have been much on my mind since writing the essay on unrecognized asides in Merchant that found its way into Laury Magnus’ and William Cannon’s “Who Hears in Shakespeare?” followed by seeing One Man Two Gov’nors in the “Live from London” series at out local theater some months ago and then two days ago, Kevin Spacey’s Richard III in the very large Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM to us New Yorkers).  

 

It seems to me that Shakespeare regularly made extensive use of asides to and involving the audience, such as one sees with wonderful skill and comic effect in Two Gov’nors.  It also seems that the proscenium stage strongly invites operatic declamation and a consequent loss of both the intimacy required for asides to work best and also the ironic or ambivalent subtlety that is catnip to academics and other attentive readers.  It also invites conventionalized, ill-considered and undramatic performances of the more familiar “favorites,” many of which I believe to be gross misreadings inherited from the narrow tastes of the post-Garrick years of Shakespeare’s deification—which more modern historical scholarship is very, very slowly correcting.  The small thrust stage, in contrast, invites interaction with an audience who may be as nearby as other actors on stage, and consequently a rediscovery of the need for such things as asides and other vehicles that lend themselves to the outsiders’ perspective and thus to ironic commentary and other breaches of the fourth wall. My essay on the asides in Merchant leads to an entirely new imagination of the rôle of Shylock, the trial scene and consequently the whole thrust of the play.    

 

And it seems that without noticing it, I’ve been on this wavelength for many years.  I wrote an essay for June Schleutter’s and Paul Nelson’s 2006 Acts of Criticism that argued for a new understanding of Gertrude based on my own view that there is a three-part choreography to her characteristic actions consisting of (a) perception of potential discord (b) physical intervention by her between the parties involved and (c) a completely false reimagination and restatement of the immediate situation that serves to mollify feelings on both sides and preserve dignity all around.  One of my points there was that stage productions allow and rely on large movements across space, while film (and TV) productions are at their best with closeups that emphasize interiority—thought and emotion.  So I found that the four or five film versions of Hamlet which I dealt with all in my view diminished the role of Gertrude as indicated by the script itself.

 

All my best wishes,

Tony Burton

 

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

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

Date:         February 11, 2012 4:08:34 PM EST

Subject:     Re: Shakespearean Productions

 

Dear Hardy:

 

We all tend to hire people who agree with us, and directors hire and re-hire actors who fit their ideas.  It makes sense.  Rehearsal time is short enough. Who wants to spend time convincing someone of your point of view?  I think you’ll find that directors who “specialize in Shakespeare” develop a style (for want of a better word) over the years and assemble acting companies that can make it work.  That’s both selfish and efficient.  I have the greatest respect for Ralph Cohen and his company, but I don’t agree with every thing they do.  Come to think of it, the only directors I ever completely agreed with were Angus Bowmer, Peter Brook, Michael Langham, and Robin Phillips.

 

If this be treason, make the most of it.

 

Love, 

Paul 

 

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------

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

Date:         February 11, 2012 8:38:36 PM EST

Subject:     Re: Shakespearean Productions

 

Dear Hardy,

 

As a student of Michael Kahn’s (from Juilliard) and Ralph Cohen’s (at Mary Baldwin in association with the American Shakespeare Center), I was a bit loathe to enter into this discussion for fear of upsetting either of my mentors.  However, after reading the responses of Mr. Costa and Mr. Barry, as well as your subsequent response to them, I feel that I need to say something.

 

I agree that these two theatres seem to have opposing styles (if one can say such a thing about theatre styles).  Yet I can assure you that, at least in their teaching, both Michael Kahn and Ralph Cohen are equally committed to Shakespeare’s language - just in different ways.  In my memory, Michael focused on how word choices fit into the world of the play and affected characters’ relationships and actions.  Ralph also had us look at language in relation to character and action, often leading us there through the poetry of the language and its rhetorical forms.  Both men, in their teaching, were (and I assume still are) absolutely clear that Shakespeare’s language is THE fundamental piece to understanding and producing his plays.  I recognize that this plays out very differently in each of their directing styles, but I have to agree with Mr. Barry on this one: Michael and Ralph have very different ideas about producing Shakespeare today, not about the importance of his words.

 

Jemma Alix Levy

Artistic Director

Muse of Fire Theatre Company

www.museoffire.webs.com

 

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------

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

Date:         Friday, February 10, 2012

Subject:     Shakespearean Productions

 

Dear All,

 

This will be writing on the fly since I want to get the digest out and to include a response, but I also am settling back after getting home, re-bonding with my Umbrella Cockatoo, who gets separation anxiety if I am not in view, and picking up my dogs from the vet’s where I was boarding them and having my high-maintenance, diabetic dog getting her glucose levels. 

 

Well, what do I say?

 

I hope that I have not given the impression that I strongly disapprove of the work of Michael Kahn and blindly favor that of Ralph Cohen. Obviously not. There have been productions from both companies that have knocked me out and others that have bored me to tears. I wrote about the reverse negative Othello with Patrick Stewart recently as a text opening production for me. Michael’s early Richard III with Stacy Keach while the company was still at the Folger Elizabethan Theater is THE Richard III that I will always think of first when I think back on productions of that play—it was SO much fun. The same goes for SSE/ASC productions.

 

However, I continue to rack up the numbers of Shakespeare productions I have seen, and they are at a virtually incalculable level, and run the gamut from Melissa’s community theater As You Like It when she was 8 to Peter Brook’s Dream to an amazing Richard II at the Other Place, and on and on. As my number of productions increases, I find I do have preferences. And what I was interested in when I started this thread was to explore matters of Shakespeare in performance today. 

 

I have alluded to my preferences regarding production values and matters of class and to theater spaces, but I would like to mention here involves what I see as issues related to language and acting styles. 

 

As one might imagine, I see Shakespeare’s language as being foremost in productions. I like it clear, fast-paced generally, and understandable to me and to the actors delivering it. Language is my foremost production value and influences the choice of space in which it is delivered.

 

Today, I would like to mention the relationship between language and acting. I prefer presentational acting to representational acting for Shakespeare. For this reason, I feel that actors should eschew the method for preforming Shakespeare. 

 

In this regard, I am reminded of the first season of Slings and Arrows, in which the film actor playing Hamlet, Jack Crew, does not want to do the text because then he would be acting Hamlet rather than emoting Hamlet.

 

In rehearsal of the closet scene, for example, we have the following:

 

Maria, the Stage Manager calls: “Polonius falls and dies.”

 

Ellen [as Gertrude]: O me, what hast thou done?

 

Jack [as Hamlet, improvising]: I don’t know. Who was it? Was it the king?

 

Ellen: O, what a rash and bloody deed is this!

 

Jack: Yeah, right. Almost as bad as killing a king and marrying his brother, right?

 

Frank whispers to Cyril: Why is he allowed to do that?

 

Cyril: It’s the Method isn’t it, ducky. He’s making it his own. That’s how they do it in America.

 

Jack discovers Polonius: You IDIOT! You stupid idiot. I thought you were the King. Oh well, no great loss, ey?

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2W93QhEdo9E

 

 

37 plays, 37 companies . . .

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.064  Monday, 13 February 2012

 

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

Date:         February 11, 2012 11:47:12 PM EST

Subject:     37 plays, 37 companies . . . 

 

This is an op-ed piece from yesterday’s Times – An interesting project and an interesting article.  Frankly, I would be more interested in seeing a troupe from some other country do Merchant . . . 

 

Op-Ed Contributor

Another Trial for Shylock

By Stephen Marche

Published: February 10, 2012

 

As part of this year’s Cultural Olympiad in London, Shakespeare’s Globe theater will stage 37 of the playwright’s works in 37 different languages in the spring.

 

Among all that variety — “Love’s Labor’s Lost” in sign language, “Othello” in the language of hip-hop and “Henry VI” Parts 1, 2 and 3 in Serbian, Albanian and Macedonian — only one play has generated controversy: “The Merchant of Venice” in Hebrew by the Habima Theater of Israel. A pro-Palestinian group called Boycott From Within, outraged that Habima has performed in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, has attacked the Globe roundly for hosting the production.

 

Once again Shylock is at the center of a trial, and as always, the trial reveals more about his attackers than it does about him or his creator.

Each period of Israeli history seems to call out for a new “Merchant of Venice” — though no one ever seems happy with the result. Habima (which means “the stage”) gave the first Hebrew performance of “The Merchant of Venice” in 1936, 12 years before the founding of Israel, in what was then Mandate Palestine. The controversy that followed was intense enough that the theater organized a mock trial of the director, Leopold Jessner, Habima and Shakespeare. The prosecution was a wild assortment of contradictory opinions, appropriate to the uncertain place and time.

 

Hard-line traditionalists denied that Shylock could be Jewish, because revenge was so foreign to the spirit of Judaism. A Communist poet claimed that Shylock’s Judaism was beside the point; the man was a speculator and deserved to be punished for his profiteering. That year there was an Arab revolt against British rule and Jewish immigration, and many read the measured Jewish response to the uprising as a repudiation of Shylock’s bloodthirstiness.

 

The next significant Habima production came in 1959, during a precarious but hopeful time in Israeli history. This “Merchant of Venice” reverently portrayed Shylock as “a liberal rabbi, with a well-trimmed beard and a clever and pleasant expression,” according to one reviewer. (Audiences didn’t show up, and it was pulled from Habima’s repertory.) After 1967 and the start of Israel’s occupation of the territories it seized during the Arab-Israeli war, Shylock was transformed into an allegory of Jewish oppression, and a justification for the existence of a Jewish homeland in Israel. In 1980, a Cameri Theater production in Tel Aviv cut the reference to Shylock’s forced conversion at the play’s end — an increasingly religious Israel could not stomach the assimilation.

 

“The Merchant of Venice” and the various portrayals of Shylock have long served as a way for Habima to act out different iterations of Israeli identity and to express Israel’s changing position in the world. But the play and characters mean far more. What is disturbing about the current controversy is how entirely it reduces the play to an empty political symbol.

 

Israel, uniquely among nations, suffers from being turned into a synecdoche — of the part being taken for the whole. The other theater companies involved in the Globe’s program — whether from China, Zimbabwe or the United States — are simply not subject to the same scrutiny of their nation’s politics. No one would think of boycotting the English theater because Britain had been involved in the bloody occupation of two countries in recent memory. That would be absurd. Yet it is not absurd when it comes to Israel.

 

The controversy also reveals England’s declining sensitivity to the history of anti-Semitism. Nazi-themed parties seem to be replacing Tarts and Vicars; the London School of Economics is investigating news of students playing National Socialist drinking games; and last fall, members of the Oxford University Conservative Association were caught on video cheerfully singing “Dashing Through the Reich” to rhyme, reportedly, with “killing lots of kike.”

 

No one — not Boycott From Within, not the Globe, not even Habima — has effectively made the case that the Jewish nation has a right to confront the most famous anti-Semitic drama ever written at a gathering of the world’s great theater companies. And yet the problem of anti-Semitism has been deemed significant enough that the British Parliament has announced an anti-Semitism training course for its members.

 

Instead of a bland course in cultural sensitivity, may I suggest that the British Parliament attend Habima’s performance at the Globe? They could do with a dose of Shylock. Because whatever you think of the character, however the actor plays him, Shylock is upsetting. He’s in the middle of a comedy, but he sure isn’t funny. Nor is he a code word in some abstract political discussion.

 

Toward the end of the play, when Shylock is calling for the fulfillment of his bond and Bassanio tries to understand why, Shylock replies, with a claim that that has never been truer, “I am not bound to please thee with my answer.” He is himself, a human being who refuses to be an empty symbol in anybody else’s iconography, before the world or in the theater of his creator.

 

Stephen Marche, a columnist at Esquire, is the author of “How Shakespeare Changed Everything.”

 

Tiffany Stern on Shakespeare

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.063  Monday, 13 February 2012

 

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

Date:         February 12, 2012 10:25:02 PM EST

Subject:     Tiffany Stern on Shakespeare

 

I learned from William Sutton’s I Love Shakespeare Blog 

 

 http://www.facebook.com/groups/119899154688265/

 

of a 15 minute talk by Professor Tiffany Stern of Oxford University.

 

http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/william-shakespeare-video

 

 

Professor Tiffany Stern gives a talk on William Shakespeare and how his plays were performed in Elizabethan England.

 

Series: Great Writers Inspire

Tiffany Stern

English Faculty

 

EMLS 16.1

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.062  Monday, 13 February 2012

 

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

Date:         Monday, 13 Feb 2012 12:12:53 -0800

Subject:     EMLS 16.1

 

To whom it may concern:

 

The first number of volume 16 of Early Modern Literary Studies has recently been posted. As usual, it is available for download free and without subscription at the following web address: http://purl.org/emls

 

The table of contents follows.

 

Sincerely,

Sean Lawrence.

 

Early Modern Literary Studies 16.1 (2012)

 

 

Articles: 

 

Pious Aeneas, False Aeneas: Marlowe’s Dido, Queen of Carthage and the Gift of Death. Mathew Martin, Brock University. [1]

 

The publication of No-body and Some-body: humanism, history and economics in the early Jacobean public theatre. Anthony Archdeacon, Liverpool Hope University. [2]

Fair Foul and Right Wrong: The Language of Alchemy in Timon of Athens. Anna Feuer, Wolfson College, Oxford. [3]

 

England’s Adam: the short career of the Giant Samothes in English Reformation thought. Jack P. Cunningham, Bishop Grosseteste University College, Lincoln. [4] 

 

Learning to Obey in Milton and Homer. Daniel Shore, Georgetown University. [5] 

 

 

Reviews: 

 

John M. Adrian, Local Negotiations of English Nationhood, 1570-1680. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011. Patrick J. Murray, University of Glasgow. [6]

 

David J. Baker. On Demand: Writing for the Market in Early Modern England. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2010. Jonathan P. Lamb, University of Kansas. [7] 

 

Elizabeth Clarke, Politics, Religion and the Song of Songs in Seventeenth-Century England. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011. Marie-Louise Coolahan, National University of Ireland, Galway. [8] 

 

A. D. Cousins and Alison V. Scott, eds. Ben Jonson and the Politics of Genre. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2009. Bernadette Andrea, University of Texas, San Antonio. [9]

 

Simon C. Estok. Ecocriticism and Shakespeare: Reading Ecophobia. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011. Todd Borlik, Bloomsburg University. [10]

 

Jane Kingsley-Smith. Cupid in Early Modern Literature and Culture. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011. William Junker, University of St. Thomas. [11]

 

Kirk Melnikoff, ed., Robert Greene. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2011. Jenny Sager, Jesus College, Oxford. [12]

 

 

Theatre Reviews: 

 

Two productions of Dr Faustus on Bankside, presented by Little Goblin Productions at the Rose Theatre, and by Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Summer 2011. Neil Forsyth, University of Lausanne. [13]

 

Hamlet presented by the Jungle Theater, Minneapolis, Minnesota. 26 August – 9 October, 2011. Bruce E. Brandt South Dakota State University. [14]

 

East Anglia Shakespeare, Summer/Autumn 2011. Michael Grosvenor Myer. [15]

 

Measure for Measure, Julius Caesar, Henry IV Part Two, Love’s Labor’s Lost, The African Company Presents Richard III, and Ghostlight, presented by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, February-November 2011. Geoff Ridden, Southern Oregon University. [16]

 

Othello presented at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, 27th September 2011. Claire Warden, University of Lincoln. [17]

 

The Two Noble Kinsmen, King Edward III, and Double Falsehood, presented by Atlanta's New American Shakespeare Tavern (March-June 2011). Joanne E. Gates, Jacksonville State University. [18]

 

The Tempest (Stormen), presented by the Royal Dramatic Theatre, Stockholm, November 19, 2010. Neil Forsyth and Anna Swärdh University of Lausanne and University of Karlstad. [19]

 

’Tis Pity She’s A Whore, a rehearsed reading presented at the Samuel Beckett Theatre, Trinity College Dublin. 9th June 2011. Edel Semple, University College Dublin. [20]

 

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Search

Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.