World Shakespeare Festival 2012: Troilus and Cressida

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0361  Friday, 31 August 2012

 

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

     Date:         August 30, 2012 4:11:52 PM EDT

     Subject:     RE: SHAKSPER: Cressida 

 

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

     Date:         August 31, 2012 11:09:20 AM EDT

     Subject:     Cressida 

 

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

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

Date:         August 30, 2012 4:11:52 PM EDT

Subject:     RE: SHAKSPER: Cressida

 

On Troilus

 

I’m afraid I found the whole production to be pretentious nonsense, which any member of the audience not familiar with the play would have been completely baffled by. The only saving grace was Scott Handy’s Ulysses.

 

Lord save us from productions such as these.

 

David Lindley

 

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

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

Date:         August 31, 2012 11:09:20 AM EDT

Subject:     Cressida

 

I was very much intrigued by the many observations made on the Wooster Group & RSC Troilus and Cressida in Stratford-upon-Avon. What some considered to be a shallow crowd-pleaser, I perceived as a mélange of styles and emotional appeals that did the play’s complexities great justice – perhaps because the conjunction of two companies and their concepts by “the chance of war” led to a surprising consonance in dissonance. The Woosters, who enacted the Trojans in a sort of Native American dress, constantly, if discreetly, monitored suspended TVs and small screens attached to the stage floor as metronomes for their pacing of movements and speech. I am grateful to Tom Cartelli for identifying the exact documentaries and films that were used as analogs of ritualistic and other modes of behaviour. We could not really, nor were we probably meant to, see the films while the play was being performed – and I was not aware that the actors were quite literally addressing the film figures – but the production sent us back to our TV sets, although with good reason, I trust. I think the documentaries as pacemakers or dialogic prompters led to what Hardy sees as Brechtian alienation, because the funny walks, if I may say so, and the distended way of speaking took most of the emotion out of the human interaction and gave it an archaic as well as an inexorable quality. This was certainly my response to the separation scene between Troilus and Cressida. “So it goes.” The Greeks (i.e. the RSC) successfully represented a world of tired exhibition of static power, often creating a soundscape of distorted speech in Thersites’s wheelchair-driven incursions on the empty stage. Male bodies were displayed as comic grotesques, with Ajax representing the stupid, Achilles the intelligent side of what it takes to win a war. I did not find these schwarzeneggerian displays of muscle cheap, but rather bizarre. And frankly, very amusing. Certainly the inertia of the hulks fits the theme of Greek war power being stymied by Achilles’ strike. That said, what Ulysses managed to achieve, was to make Achilles genuinely afraid of losing his prestige – this was really well acted by Joe Dixon (Achilles)! A bit of topicality there as well. Perhaps surprisingly, the brutality of Cressida’s reception by the merry Greeks was toned down – and Tom tells us why – and the same is true of the killing of Hector by Achilles’ Myrmidons. Perhaps this was done in order not to taint Achilles’s image as Patroclus’ lover – that love was in this production almost more foregrounded than the one between Troilus and Cressida. In Dieter Dorn’s Munich production of 1986, Hector was crassly impaled by the rout of Myrmidons while Achilles was looking on with considerable lust. There is a parallel between the present-day Troilus and Cressida and the one of 1986: Dorn also set his action in a space resembling a huge teepee, and many of his figures were clearly dressed as Native Americans. More on this in Wilhelm Hortmann, Shakespeare on the German Stage, pp. 325-327 

 

World Shakespeare Festival 2012: Troilus and Cressida

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0360  Thursday, 30 August 2012

 

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

     Date:         August 30, 2012 3:52:35 AM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Cressida 

 

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

     Date:         August 30, 2012 12:34:18 AM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Cressida 

 

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

     Date:         August 29, 2012 11:07:12 PM EDT

     Subject:     Anna Kamaralli’s Posting Regarding Cressida 

 

 

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

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

Date:         August 30, 2012 3:52:35 AM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Cressida

 

As another somewhat dazed witness of the Wooster-RSC “Troilus,” I am impressed that Hardy remembers as many details as he does! 

 

It was a dense, provocative and I think over-the-top production. I do recall thinking that Cressida brought emotion and appeal to her role—somewhat surprisingly in this sort of “antikathartic” production. I’ve always seen potential in the play for making Cressida a kind of “I will survive” heroine in a brutal, masculine world, but this production, it seemed to me, didn’t really go there exactly either. It was more a matter of refusing to make her an out-and-out negative figure. But they more or less punted away the kissing scene, I thought, for whatever reason, making it quick and punctual. I thought the “betrayal” scene was projected from Troilus’s rather than Cressida’s viewpoint—that is, it was more or less a clear betrayal. In the end, there seemed to be a kind of universal night, and that is clearly a strong theme of this caustic play. Wish I had seen more productions of it to compare.

 

Best,

Hugh Grady

 

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

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

Date:         August 30, 2012 12:34:18 AM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Cressida

 

“. . . the Wooster Group delivered their lines in a drone mimicking that of Pacific Northwest Native Americans.”

 

We used to have rollicking conversations here about whether or not it is possible to recover Shakespeare’s “intent.”  Perhaps not, or maybe not entirely or not with great certainty; but it is frequently possible to be certain of things he did not intend.

 

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

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

Date:         August 29, 2012 11:07:12 PM EDT

Subject:     Anna Kamaralli’s Posting Regarding Cressida

 

As luck had it, I was able to direct my own form of this question to Scott Handy, the RSC actor who played both Ulysses and a wonderfully ditzy Helen. I specifically asked why the Greeks didn’t physically molest Cressida when she arrived at their camp, passing her from arm to arm as the text suggests. He told me that the two companies pursued largely exclusive rehearsals in different rehearsal spaces. As a stand-in for Cressida during their own rehearsals, the RSC actors used the empty gurney that Achilles spent his time lazing around on during the production as a surrogate/stand-in for Cressida. When Marin Ireland, the Wooster actor who played Cressida, showed up to rehearse the scene with the RSC and seemed not interested in directly engaging the RSC actors, the “Greeks” continued to use the gurney as a stand-in for Cressida. I never saw her touched, much less “molested” in the course of the scene, and only witnessed a more or less direct response on her part to Handy’s Ulysses, to whom she speaks in the dismissive manner suggested by the playtext. Having now closely watched ATANARJUAT, OR THE FAST RUNNER, the award-winning Inuit film that was frequently being screened on the Wooster Group monitors, I think what Marin Ireland was doing was “channeling” that film’s faithful wife, Ajuat, after she had been effectively kidnapped by the rapacious head of another Inuit clan (whose behavior is strikingly similar to Diomed’s in Shakespeare’s play). In fact, the mythic plot of that film resembles the T&C plot in many other particulars that the Wooster Group exploited in depth. It’s worth noting on this count in particular that the Woosters were almost always playing (and playing to) a character displayed on one of the monitors rather than directly “performing” their scripted Shakespearean role. (Also worth noting—the Woosters were not directly imitating the way some Northwest Native Americans “really speak” as much as uniformly emulating the somewhat exaggerated replication of those speech styles in Chris Eyre’s film adaptation of Sherman Alexie’s SMOKE SIGNALS (which is one of the films most frequently screened during the Stratford production.)

 

 Tom Cartelli 

(Muhlenberg College)

Query: Locating John Cranko Romeo and Juliet Ballet

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0359  Thursday, 30 August 2012

 

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

Date:         August 30, 2012 11:16:21 AM EDT

Subject:     Query: Locating John Cranko Romeo and Juliet Ballet

 

I’m looking for a video or dvd of the John Cranko Romeo and Juliet ballet. I’ve emailed Tanya Gough, but any help would be welcome. I’m writing and interdisciplinary paper for a conference in January on the musical, chorographic treatments rendering the text visible and audible to a Shakespearean audience.  Much appreciated, and I hope to meet some of you at the conference in Hawaii.

 

Susanne Collier, Ph.D.

Professor of English

California State University, Northridge

CFP: Service Shakespeare

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0358  Thursday, 30 August 2012

 

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

Date:         August 30, 2012 9:56:38 AM EDT

Subject:     Call for Papers

 

I am delighted to announce that I shall edit a special section in Borrowers and Lenders: The Journal of Shakespeare and Appropriation (http://www.borrowers.uga.edu/cocoon/borrowers/about) about what for now we are calling Service Shakespeare. This is a call for papers with apologies for cross postings.

 

By Service Shakespeare, I mean Shakespeare used in the service of different populations, especially needy or isolated populations. Perhaps the best-known example is the Shakespeare in prisons programs, and the best-known example of this is the documentary Shakespeare Behind Bars. I hope to cast the net rather widely. My own contribution will be about using Shakespeare as a therapy for Alzheimer’s patients. Topics may include Shakespeare amongst those with other illnesses, with mental disabilities, the homeless, the poor, Shakespeare produced for those in the armed services, and serving the handicapped in professional theatre companies. Let these serve as examples of the sort of topics sought, not as limitations. I am open to any great idea as long as the emphasis is on using Shakespeare to serve others or as a therapy. Please contact me with your proposals.

 

Michael P. Jensen

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

Shorthand

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0357  Wednesday, 29 August 2012

 

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

Date:         August 28, 2012 8:13:35 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: Shorthand

 

Werner Broennimann observes of “take up”,

 

> This is an effect a revising dramatist might well seek,

> particularly if he is in the process of cutting some lines

> at the end of a scene which is nothing but full of urgency.

 

I hadn’t suggested that “take up, take up” is senseless, but that it derives from Qa, what with its t’s k’s & great p’s. A revising dramatist could (and did!) make use of the repetition. The question is: Was that dramatist Shakespeare? As for drama, “we’ve got thirty minutes” may be urgent enough. And maybe the audience liked the added speeches. My point, reinforced elsewhere: F derives from Q1. Werner, what is your opinion on that? And do you like F’s revision of 5.3, “By rule of Knight-hood,” which I also reported? I would like to move on to more of the Q1/F corruption. Taking up ‘take up’ for keeps keeps us from other evidence adduced by Stone and prior scholars.

 

Steve Urkowitz remarks:

 

> By selectively citing Peter Blayney’s work,

 

Blayney offers a good selection, but I cite Stone more. Isn’t citation selective in any case? These guys are really good.

 

> and by sidestepping the documentation for what

> authorial revisions look like in Early Modern play-scripts

> (see Honigmann and Ioppolo for these),

 

I don’t side-step that at all, but comment extensively. Perhaps Steve would like to cite some himself.

 

> Maybe Gerald Downs really likes the quiet passages

 

I don’t much care for any of it but the problems are interesting.

 

> No matter who built or accidentally generated those

> distinct patterns, in this essentially unprovable context

> of . . . bibliographical observation and argumentation,

> the patterns bubble up.

 

But Steve argues Shakespeare as reviser.

 

> And if the differences really came out of other hands

> or even from those typewriting monkeys,

 

Someone (and some others) long ago took Q1 seriously enough to repair and ‘improve’ it. Steve, do you think the repair was made on Q1 or do you think the revision was of the foul papers before Q1 came to be? That’s an important question. We might move along to that.

 

Gerald E. Downs

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