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World Shakespeare Festival 2012: Troilus and Cressida

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0360  Thursday, 30 August 2012

 

[1] From:        Hugh Grady < This e-mail 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 e-mail 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 e-mail 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 e-mail 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 e-mail 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 e-mail 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)

 

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