Hebrew Verbs

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0200  Wednesday, 23 May 2012

[Editor’s Note:

 

“I believe in God and Senator Dodd and keeping old Castro down. And when it came my time to serve I knew better dead than Red. But when I got to my old draft board, Buddy, this is what I said. . . . ” Phil Ochs “Draft Dodger Rag” from I Ain’t Marching Any More

 

I have no problem with discussions of the JKV or Hebrew rendering in JKV or echoes of Biblical lines in Shakespeare; however, I do not think this is an appropriate forum for discussion of the existence of God or god or G-d, if you prefer. 

 

Disclaimer: I myself am a practicing, non-theistic western Buddhist in the Theravada (Insight Meditation) tradition and pacifist draft dodger. 

 

--Hardy Cook]

 

 

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

     Date:         May 22, 2012 11:25:48 AM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Hebrew Verbs--I am and God

 

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

     Date:         May 22, 2012 12:50:07 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Hebrew Verbs--I am and G-d

 

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

     Date:         May 22, 2012 12:56:07 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Hebrew Verbs--I am and God

 

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

     Date:         May 22, 2012 4:43:27 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Hebrew Verbs--I am and God

 

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

     Date:         May 22, 2012 6:01:24 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Hebrew Verbs--I am and God

 

[6] From:        Arthur Lindley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         May 23, 2012 3:55:54 AM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Hebrew Verbs--I am and God

 

 

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

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

Date:         May 22, 2012 11:25:48 AM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Hebrew Verbs--I am and God

 

Markus Marti wrote on May 21, 2012:

 

> Is not the existence of this god person nonsensical?

 

As Hamlet says to the scholar-skeptic, Horatio, after they have had that inexplicable experience involving a ghost—a kind of inexplicable experience of many varieties that many persons have from time to time reported experiencing—he gives the following thoughtful reaction:

 

   There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of

   in our philosophy.

 

I think it was Aldous Huxley that paraphrased this remark when he defined a philosopher as “someone who dreams of less things than there are in heaven and earth.”

 

Concerning the question of whether the paraphrase “I am not what I am,” as stated by Viola and by Iago, is related to the version in Exodus 3:14, how can any one think that Shakespeare did not have that biblical comment in mind?

 

In the case of Viola, it is a playful comment since she is posing as a young man and pointing to the unreality of her pose that complicates her love for Orsino. But the phrase takes on a more ominous and serious tone when stated by Iago, who poses as "honest Iago" and a friend of Othello. In the latter, it points to the world of his evil reality juxtaposed with a reality of God's goodness, which vastness it is meant to contrast.

 

David Basch

 

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

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

Date:         May 22, 2012 12:50:07 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Hebrew Verbs--I am and G-d

 

Perhaps it’s not entirely ludicrous to midrash on the tetragammatonic Iago and the quasi-tetragammatonic Viola’s “I am” (vel non). These resonances (however shallow) of greater things were around then just as much as they are in the air now. To a reader attempting to understand a pre-existing character, Viola’s declaration is in the present tense, duly mapped, as appropriate, to the present and future.  (“This is.”) To a witness in a crowded Elizabethan/Jacobean theatre who sees a costumed character flounce on from the wings, the speech becomes performative, creating the characterization in the present towards the future—not at all referring to what the character might have eaten for breakfast.  (“This is the way it’s a-gonna be.”)  Hence, the Bloomian tense.

 

I have Casca’s knowledge of Greek (which made for great verisimilitude when I played the part), but perhaps it parallels the distinction between the past/completed aorist and the tragic aorist. It’s rather simple and easy to say what the character is, but what she may be is much more interesting, and even perhaps more—dare I say it—true.

 

Or perhaps not. It’s all one.

 

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

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

Date:         May 22, 2012 12:56:07 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Hebrew Verbs--I am and God

 

I think my comment began with Iago, or at least mentioned him. His “I am not what I am” is a pointed, ironic biblical allusion, contrasting his absolute nullity with God’s plenitude (or perhaps his lack of fixed identity with God’s fixity?). It ties in with other allusions in the play to Iago as devil (“I look downwards towards his feet”). Viola’s use of the same phrase seems less complex, having more to do with her disguise than any more fundamental questions of identity, being, or essence, but perhaps one could press this farther. Might the difference in depth of resonance of the allusions have to do with the different genres, tragedy and comedy? I suppose one could argue that Iago’s statement is also just a confession of dissembling, but I have Coleridge’s remark in mind about his “motiveless malignity” which seems right—and there are the satanic allusions. Perhaps worth noting the use of the positive version of the phrase in Sidney’s Astrophil and Stella 45:

 

Then think, my dear, that you in me do read

Of lovers’ ruin some sad tragedy:

I am not I, pity the tale of me.

 

Shakespeare certainly knew Sidney, and Viola’s “I am not what I am” might have more to do with Astrophil than God—she is an unrequited lover (of Orsino) as well as petitioning on behalf of one (Orsino again, to Olivia). The matter of tragedy might also suggest Viola’s tale of “her father’s daughter” who “never told her love."

 

Hannibal

 

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

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

Date:         May 22, 2012 4:43:27 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Hebrew Verbs--I am and God

 

Markus Marti: “Is not the existence of this god person nonsensical?”

 

That goes without saying—and perhaps best so. But since the author and nearly all of his audience believed in this god person, it clearly has some relevance. Why, even a few people do so today.

 

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

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

Date:         May 22, 2012 6:01:24 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Hebrew Verbs--I am and God

 

>Is not the existence of this god person nonsensical?

  

Of course, but what makes Jahweh unusual is not his absurdity (all gods are absurd), but his peculiar viciousness. It is easy to create a god, but why make him a whimsical sadist and then call him “compassionate.” See, e.g., Exodus 21:20-21. I suppose an evil god makes it easier to justify the random unfairness of the universe and thereby allow the priests to collect their fees without having to justify why they can’t actually do anything helpful.

 

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------

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

Date:         May 23, 2012 3:55:54 AM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Hebrew Verbs--I am and God

 

I’m sorry, Larry, but the reverse of a well-known biblical positive has a great deal of importance. In Iago’s case, it identifies him with Satan and privative evil.  In Viola’s case, it identifies her, however playfully, with the traditional prejudice against theatrical performance as a manifestation of that same evil in order to subvert the equation.  Viola’s performance as Cesario manifests the inherent nature she shares with her brother and that both Orsino and Olivia fall in love with.  The problematic relation of acting to being is, of course, a pervasive problem in Shakespeare.  

 

Regards,

Arthur

 

Lean & Hungry’s Much Ado About Nothing

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.199  Wednesday, 23 May 2012

 

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

Date:         Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Subject:     Lean & Hungry’s Much Ado About Nothing

 

Lean & Hungry’s Much Ado About Nothing

 

On Sunday, June 24, WAMU 88.5 and Lean & Hungry Theater will present a special live-to-air broadcast of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing at American University’s Woods-Brown Amphitheater. The one-hour radio production will take place in front of a live audience and air on WAMU 88.5 at 6 p.m. Bring a picnic and see how Shakespeare is turned into a radio play that anyone can understand. Admission is $17 for adults and free for children under 17. For more information, visit our event calendar.

“Sleep No More”

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.198  Wednesday, 23 May 2012

 

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

Date:         Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Subject:     “Sleep No More”

 

Dear SHAKSPER Subscribers,

 

Today’s New York Times has an article about “Sleep No More” that readers might find interesting. It is excerpted below, followed by 2011 NYTimes review.

 

A Guinea Pig’s Night at the Theater

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/23/theater/sleep-no-more-enhanced-by-mit-media-lab.html

 

May 22, 2012

A Guinea Pig’s Night at the Theater

By Dave Itzkoff

 

Even when it is not executed perfectly, theater can stir a range of feelings, from boundless elation to existential despair. On rare occasions, it can even impart blinding pain, as an overly tight mask presses your glasses into your face, setting off sensitive nerve endings you did not know you possessed.

 

I learned this on Thursday night as I wandered the corridors of “Sleep No More,” the site-specific theater event presented in a labyrinthine Chelsea warehouse. Created by the British company Punchdrunk, “Sleep No More” lets masked attendees follow, with eyes, ears, hands and feet, an open-ended tale that mashes up “Macbeth” with elements of Hitchcock films like “Rebecca” and “Vertigo.”

 

At the invitation of Punchdrunk, I was taking part in an experiment to see, primarily, if this immersive experience could be technologically tweaked to yield a new narrative-within-the- master-narrative for select participants. (I imagine that the secondary, unstated goal of this field trial was to test my exceedingly minimal threshold for discomfort.)

 

Working with the very nice and talented students and faculty members from the MIT Media Lab (and financed by a partnership of British arts and innovation organizations), Punchdrunk had revisited the smoke-filled and dimly lighted chambers of “Sleep No More” to add digital enhancements that if I discovered them would be activated only with the help of a special mask that was outfitted with sensors, though not necessarily built for corrective lenses.

 

By adding state-of-the-art gadgetry (including 8,000 more feet of cable and another 100 or so strategically placed Bluetooth and RFID sensors) to some already nontraditional storytelling, Punchdrunk’s ambition was to deliver something like a living video game. But for now, this emerging art form is still in its rudimentary, Atari 2600 phase.

 

The test run began with a pep talk from Punchdrunk’s Pete Higgin, whose title, enrichment director, already says something about the nonconformist company employing him. But he did not want to tell too much about my coming adventure.

 

“If it all works, then great,” Mr. Higgin said on the phone before the performance. Sensing, perhaps, that I wanted a bit more encouragement, he told me, Do get excited.” But he added, “There could be glitches.”

 

This was my first time at “Sleep No More,” at a West 27th Street space that Punchdrunk calls the McKittrick Hotel, and while I tried to keep an open mind, even its customary, unenhanced experience can be polarizing. For some, it is thrilling to be in a scrum with dozens of sweaty people chasing its characters from room to room to room. For others, it feels like a firetrap designed by David Lynch. (It is left to the reader to determine which camp I fell into.)

 

For the non-claustrophobic sorts who brave “Sleep No More” on a given night, there are already several story lines to be witnessed en masse. But I was supposed to be getting a narrative that was new and unique and, above all, exclusive to me. I was the 1 percent.

 

After donning my special mask Is it supposed to be this tight? It is? O.K. I was brought by myself to a room where an actress playing a psychic invited me to communicate with a spirit using a Ouija board. When I accepted her entreaty to help the troubled ghost, she said the ghost and I were now bound together and put her finger to my temple and, to my surprise, the mask began to vibrate. This was cool.

 

But my further explorations of the “Sleep No More” environs a creepy hospital, a ballroom, a maze had to be aborted because of mask-induced facial paralysis and imminent loss of consciousness.

 

After several adjustments to my gear by the Punchdrunk team, I was restarted, by myself, in a lawyer’s office where the keys of a typewriter began clacking away by themselves. (Again, points awarded for the atmospherics.) A printed message told me to seek a woman in red, and when I exited the room, an actress dressed in a flowing crimson gown awaited.

 

The woman who I later learned is Hecate, the lead witch in “Sleep No More” then entered a nightclub where other audience members and I watched her perform a garish lip-sync of “Is That All There Is?”

[ . . . ]

 

Tod Machover, an M.I.T. professor who is director of the institute’s media lab’s Opera of the Future group, told me that one of the experiment’s goals was to see if “you can take a live experience, whether it’s a concert or a theater show or hanging out with people you care about, and experience that somewhere else” not only observe it, but feel as if you’re participating in it as well.

 

[ . . . ]

 

********************

Shakespeare Slept Here, Albeit Fitfully

 

http://theater.nytimes.com/2011/04/14/theater/reviews/sleep-no-more-is-a-macbeth-in-a-hotel-review.html

 

April 13, 2011

Theater Review ‘Sleep No More’

Shakespeare Slept Here, Albeit Fitfully

By Ben Brantley

 

Those pushy Macbeths may be backstabbing social climbers, but you must admit that their new digs are to die for. The Thane of Cawdor and his wife have moved into a deserted hotel in the hinterlands of the West 20s, and my dear, what they’ve done with the place. Don’t be surprised if it shows up soon on the cover of Architectural Digest, bloodstains and all.

 

Punchdrunk, a British site-specific theater company, has taken over three abandoned warehouses on West 27th Street to enact the sorry sights of the murderous Macbeths’ career in a movable orgy titled “Sleep No More.” And the resulting adventure in décor — a 1930s pleasure palace called the McKittrick

— suggests what might have happened had Stanley Kubrick (of “Eyes Wide Shut” and “The Shining”) been asked to design the Haunted Mansion at Disney World, with that little old box maker Joseph Cornell as a consultant.

 

[ . . . ]

 

An unimpaired sense of balance and depth perception is crucial to attending “Sleep No More,” which leads its audience on a merry, macabre chase up and down stairs, and through minimally illuminated, furniture-cluttered rooms and corridors. The creative team here has taken on the duties of messing with your head, which they do just as thoroughly as any artificial stimulant.

 

You’ll notice that so far I have not mentioned the name of the writer who immortalized Macbeth. Though the title of “Sleep No More” and much of its shadow of a plot do come from the compact tragedy that is a favorite of high school English classes, this is not the place to look for insights into Shakespeare. (For those, you would be better off checking out the current Cheek by Jowl or Theater for a New Audience productions of “Macbeth,” in which the emphasis is on interior worlds instead of the World of Interiors.)

 

But this largely wordless production, directed by Felix Barrett and Maxine Doyle (and designed by Mr. Barrett, Livi Vaughan and Beatrice Minns), is not without thought-churning aperçus. These have less to do with the comely dancers who act out the doomed paths of Macbeth and company than with those clumsy, anonymous lugs in white face masks who keep elbowing one another out of the way to get a better view of the sex and violence. That’s you and me, my fellow theatergoers.

 

You see, everyone who attends “Sleep No More” is required to wear (and keep on) a Venetian carnival- style mask. You are also asked not to utter a word during the two and a half hours you are given to follow the characters of your choice from room to room. But you are encouraged to poke around in corners and trunks and bookcases, and allowed to get as close as (in)decency permits to the lithe- bodied denizens of this chic spook house. (Just don’t touch them, though they may well reach out and touch you.)

 

“Sleep No More” is, in short, a voyeur’s delight, with all the creepy, shameful pleasures that entails.  [ . . . ]

 

The idea is once you’re let loose on one of the floors of the hotel, you pick out a single character and pursue him or her (though you can switch any time you want), as the performer runs, dances and vaults all over the place. Dressed in drop-dead, Deco-era evening clothes, scanty lingerie or nothing at all, these characters include the Macbeths (of course), Macduff and his wife (who is conspicuously pregnant), Duncan (the king) and various witches and hotel employees. (Because the roles are mostly double-cast, I am not mentioning individual performers, but they are all lissome enough to make the audience look slow and dumpy.)

 

These jaded figures can be found in bedrooms, bathrooms, ballrooms, hospital rooms and nurseries getting dressed and undressed, doing the foxtrot, making every kind of love, killing one another and washing off blood. (The Macbeth mansion has many bathtubs.) Choreographed by Ms. Doyle, these activities are executed with tense balletic virtuosity by neurotic, anguished and gymnastic creatures, who climb the walls (I mean literally) in moments of high stress.

 

The knockout set pieces (and the detail in every room is remarkable) include a painterly banquet scene and an unnerving black mass sequence led by three ambisexual witches. The lighting is ravishingly crepuscular. The mood-matching sound design includes period pop recordings (“Goodnight Children, Everywhere,” “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square”), techno music (but only for the witches) and swoony, suspenseful Bernard Herrmann scores for Hitchcock movies.

 

[ . . . ]

My Brother Will

 

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.197  Wednesday, 23 May 2012

 

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

Date:         May 22, 2012 5:56:09 PM EDT

Subject:     My Brother Will

 

I’m writing to announce of the release of My Brother Will, my new Shakespearean novel for adults, this time (I mainly write for young people) and which has just been published by British e-publisher AchukaBooks, as a Kindle-only edition (other formats may come later) and is now available for sale on amazon.com for US and Australian readers: 

 

http://www.amazon.com/My-Brother-Will-ACHUKAbooks-ebook/dp/B00852YA06/ref=sr_1_sc_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1337672443&sr=1-1-spelld

 

and Amazon.co.uk for British readers.

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Brother-Will-ACHUKAbooks-ebook/dp/B00852YA06/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1337671025&sr=1-1

 

(British readers can also buy it at amazon.com)

 

It’s the story of a pivotal year in the life of the Shakespeare family in Stratford, when Will was sixteen, and told in the voice of his younger brother Gilbert. Informed by the theory that the Shakespeare family were crypto-Catholics, it is a rich evocation of daily life in sixteenth-century Stratford and the surrounding countryside, centred around four festivals. It is a most unusual book which is written in a style pungently reminiscent of the period, yet without quaintness, and rests on a good deal of research on all kinds of aspects of Shakespeare’s background.

 

Sophie Masson

Author site: www.sophiemasson.org

Worlds Together Conference

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.196  Wednesday, 23 May 2012

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

Date:         May 22, 2012 5:05:35 PM EDT

Subject:     Half-price offer for the Worlds Together Conference

 

A message from Tracy Irish, Education Programme Developer for the World Shakespeare Festival: 

 

Through a grant provided by the British Council to support the World Shakespeare Festival, produced by the RSC for London 2012, we are delighted to offer a 50% discount on a three day pass to our Worlds Together conference, 6- 8 September at Tate Modern in London.

 

World Together is an international conference exploring the  value of Shakespeare and the arts in young people’s lives. It is a  collaboration between Tate Modern, The British Museum, The National Theatre and  The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) drawing together different disciplines to  ask what is at stake for children’s cultural lives today. The Shakespeare  strand of this special three day event is for artists and educators passionate  about teaching Shakespeare. It offers exclusive access to leading artists and  practitioners through a range of workshops, discussions, seminars and key note addresses.

 

The conference pass includes access to the full three day programme of workshops, keynotes, panel discussions and presentations, free entry to the ‘Staging the World’ exhibition at the British Museum and offers for other cultural events connected to the London 2012 festival. A limited number of conference passes are available on a first come, first served basis at £195 (full price is £395).

 

For details on how to access this offer, please email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

For further details of the conference, please click on ‘Worlds Together conference’ from the drop down menu at www . worldshakespearefestival . org . uk/education

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