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World Shakespeare Festival 2012: Troilus and Cressida

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0361  Friday, 31 August 2012

 

[1] From:        David Lindley < This e-mail 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 e-mail 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 e-mail 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 e-mail 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 

 

 

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