World Shakespeare Festival 2012: Troilus and Cressida

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0355  Wednesday, 29 August 2012

 

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

Date:         Monday, August 27, 2012, at 10:10 PM

Subject:    World Shakespeare Festival 2012: Troilus and Cressida

 

Dear Hardy,

 

Thank you for that fascinating description of the Wooster Group/RSC Troilus and Cressida. I became familiar with the Wooster Group’s work when I was rather randomly assigned a class on Avant-Garde theatre to teach. Could you possibly tell us something about what was done with the role of Cressida in this production? I am particularly curious about her entrance to the Greek camp, and her final scene with Diomedes, being watched by Troilus, Ulysses and Thersites, as these scenes must have been tackled only after the two halves of the company began to be integrated. The Wooster Group usually employs a lot of props and costume elements that a fairly obvious signifiers of one thing or another, to the modern, pop-culture trained eye; were any of these brought to bear on the person of Cressida?

 

**********

Hardy’s Response (in hopes others will expand upon remarks)

 

What a wonderful question.

 

My experience with theatre after feminism has convinced me of the importance of how the treatment of Cressida in contemporary productions is an expression of her commodification by the men around her. From my perspective, the most interesting and successful productions are those that explore this issue. 

 

Having said this, and I appeal other others who were present to expand and correct me, because so much was going on, I did not feel that this production particularly emphasized the “trading,” as it were, of Cressida. 

 

As I previously reported and I have since received further information from Tom Cartelli about the documentaries and their relations to what was happening on the stage, the Wooster Group delivered their lines in a drone mimicking that of Pacific Northwest Native Americans. The drone, at first, was disorientating, as was the drumming and musical accompaniment and effects, so some details are not as clear for me as they might but that was the point I believe. 

 

As I recall, Diomedes appears in Troy to fetch Cressida as a blustering military type. To signify her being “traded” from the Trojans to the Greeks, Cressida strips from her Native American garb and, as I recall, puts on a rather plain frock. I do not remember that Cressida was particularly “MANhandled” at her arrival in the Grecian camp, at least not as much as I have seen in other productions nor was she overly demonized as a “daughter of the game." The pace was rapid, and so much was going on that I might have missed significant details.

 

I believe Calchas was not present when Diomedes fetched Cressida for the scene in which Troilus’s sleeve was exchanged or taken. The Swan stage is relatively small, and the overhearing scene was staged completely non-representationally. Thersites was behind Troilus and Ulysses while Diomedes and Cressida were further downstage. Again, because the production was striving not to be representational, it is difficult to attribute emotions to the characters from their actions in this or any other scene. At Troy, when Troilus and Cressida touched their fingers to each other, lights flashed and noises sounded giving the impression of an intense electrical shock passing between them. During the betrayal scene there may have been loud noises but they did not particularly register with me. Thersites was his usual mastic self, as sleazy was he could be, and his portrayal perhaps signified more realistic, identifiable emotions than the Trojans did. 

 

I am sorry that I cannot be more comprehensive and I do hope others might continue this conversation.

 

Hardy

Shorthand

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0354  Tuesday, 28 August 2012

 

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

     Date:         August 27, 2012 2:54:03 PM EDT

     Subject:     SHAKSPER: Shorthand 

 

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

     Date:         August 28, 2012 9:48:54 AM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Shorthand 

 

 

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

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

Date:         August 27, 2012 2:54:03 PM EDT

Subject:     SHAKSPER: Shorthand

 

Q1 uncorrected “Take vp to keepe” and its corrected Q1 version “Take vp the King” as well as the F-version “Take vp, take vp” in King Lear 3.6.102 has generated many words. I would call on the contestants to “Take up. Take up!”, which in Philip Massinger’s The Great Duke of Florence I.2.153 (1636) means as much as “Take a hold of yourself”, insistently said twice to a man enraptured by the beauty of a woman. The repetition in King Lear, as Steve Urkowitz has pointed out, conveys a sense of urgency. 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. Shakespeare uses the same repetition, although admittedly not in immediate proximity, in the First Induction to The Taming of the Shrew. The Lord says to his followers that they should take up the drunk: “Then take him up and manage well the jest” (line 42). He then explains the details of his scheme, and repeats “Take him up gently and to bed with him” (line 69). Context is wider than only one play, and it can give plausibility, if not authenticity, to the choice of words and phrases. Drunks and old people must be treated carefully: it is worth repeating.

 

Werner

 

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

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

Date:         August 28, 2012 9:48:54 AM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Shorthand

 

I recognize that Gerald Downs isn’t going to change his mind about the sources of variants in LEAR.  But I’m still happy to carry on a conversation about the texts because every time we get up close and personal with that stuff, my brain-cells get all bubbly. (Sorry for that autobiographical lit-crit term, not found in the Princeton Dictionary of Lit Crit, I fear.)

 

Gerald asks that we step back to consider as a better “larger context” for specific variants not just the scene-sequences where the end-of-scene cuts happen but rather: “The surrounding context (writ large)” which “is Q1 corruption, much of which the reviser (Q1 to F) is unable to overcome.” 

 

By selectively citing Peter Blayney’s work, and by sidestepping the documentation for what authorial revisions look like in Early Modern play-scripts (see Honigmann and Ioppolo for these), Gerald says and says and says that Q1 is corrupt.  I’ve shown that almost all of what has been called “corruption” ain’t that at all but rather is evidence that the piece was in progress.  As my old buddy Albert Einstein told us, “Your theory determines what you see as evidence.”  So, let’s agree that we won’t agree about what we can use as evidence.  Okay?

 

And may we move on a little?  Around the urgency of “take up the king” or “take up, take up,” a play is going on.  Maybe Gerald Downs really likes the quiet passages spoken by Kent and then by Edgar at the end of 3.6 which are not found in the Folio.  He quotes Stone’s book: 

 

A cut. Stone takes note, “Reflective comment at the close of a scene: the motive is once again retrenchment.”

 

What should we do next?  My training and experience as a quasi-scientific theatrically-oriented critic, as a director, and as a teacher for, like, a half a century, all lead me to want to show these variants to actors, to other teachers, and to kids in my classes.  I want THEM to see and to feel the different impact of the different texts.  If they do note the differences, then I’ve taught them something about how plays work.  “We can have zip-zip-zip quick rhythms of events and actions, or we can have quick-slow-quick rhythms.”  No matter who built or accidentally generated those distinct patterns, in this essentially unprovable context of fishy-swishy bibliographical observation and argumentation, the patterns bubble up.  Put 'em on stage and they’re beautiful to watch.  Both of 'em.  

 

My campaigns over the years are to get folks to see the alternatives in their gloriously theatrical alternativity.  I try to HOPE that my vision of Shakespeare as the responsible party will prevail, only because I feel that will ensure attention to their variety and to their otherwise-invisible very existence.  And if the differences really came out of other hands or even from  those typewriting monkeys, then I hope we could get endowed chairs of Typewriting-Monkey Studies, for which I, as a typewriting monkey myself, will be eminently qualified.

 

Steven Monkowitz

Extinguished Professor, CCNY English and Theatre

 

Shorthand

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0353  Monday, 27 August 2012

 

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

Date:         August 26, 2012 5:56:33 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: Shorthand

 

Steve Urkowitz continues with Lear 3.6 “take up to keep”. The variant itself is not very important, I agree. But the point of the discussion may be missed if other Q1 errors affecting the F revision are not given equal time (in the sense that corruption adds up).

 

> But could the “take up to keepe  (Q1 uncorrected, Q2) /

> take up the King (Q1 corrected) / take up, take up (F)”

> possibly have been done without an “author-function” ?

> Yes, but it is supportable or even minutely important if

> and only if you rip it from its surrounding context.

 

The surrounding context (writ large) is Q1 corruption, much of which the reviser (Q1 to F) is unable to overcome. 

 

> (Confession: When I was writing Shakespeare’s

> Revision of King Lear. I completely overlooked this

> “Q1 uncorrected- Q1 Corrected- Q2 - F variant.”

 

As I noted earlier, Steve overlooks most all these variants, because of which he must assume (with Gabriel Egan and other “revisionists”) that Shakespeare was unconcerned or unable to fix Q1 text while he made profound changes—primarily by cuts.

 

The tendency to argue “Shakespearean revision” on that basis is justly criticized. Anyone can cut dialogue and there is no way to say who did. True, no one can say who didn’t. But when the cuts are surrounded by surviving corruptions one may presume they are non-authorial.

 

> Gerald Downs . . . feels that either of the two

> alternatives to the first shot, “take up to keepe,”

> ain’t anything but typesetters or your odd corrector

> in the printing house doing what typesetters and

> correctors always did, or maybe stenographers and

> their  auxiliaries may have done: he says, “for one thing,

> “take up” looks . . . like emending . . . graphic error;

> achievable by anyone, and not to be taken as evidence

> for Shakespeare”

 

To be clear, I think “take up the king” was Q1 copy, misread “take up to keep”. Qb corrected the error but Qa got through to F by “take up take up”, a graphic guess. This indicates, with a lot of other evidence, that F is a revision of Q1.

 

Participation in Lear discussion may be auxiliary to stenography, like it or not. I think Q1 copy was right in this instance, however transmitted.

 

> Look . . . at the text surrounding the . . . passage.

> Big stuff happening!

 

A cut. Stone takes note, “Reflective comment at the close of a scene: the motive is once again retrenchment.”

 

> Of course, I’ve been criticized unmercifully for saying

> . . . “Shakespearean” . . . and that actually anyone at

> all could have cut the Q material. . . . Sure. Like anyone

> at all could carve Michaelangelo’s David by simply

> cutting out the marble that isn’t the statue.

 

Bad analogy. Of these matters we must understand that analytical bibliography (Qa, Qb, Q2), sense and nonsense, printing practices, and open-season on a public text all trump “only Shakespeare” insistence.

 

Gerald E. Downs

Shorthand

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0352  Friday, 24 August 2012

 

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

Date:         August 21, 2012 5:17:39 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: Shorthand

 

Camp Counselor Stevie Errorowitz here again, calling for another “delay-of-game FOUL” in the continuing round-robin game of Name That Reviser being played out here in Textual Studies Summer Camp. We’ve had a l-o-n-g exchange about some very small, nearly microscopic, linked King Lear variants found at the end of 3.6, where Gloucester urges Kent to bring the sleeping Lear away to safety. I ‘d like the judges and bystanders and visiting grown-ups to raise their eyes a moment to be reminded of the larger context of this particular mini-bone of contention.

 

The form of Gloucester’s speech in Q1 as it was first printed has Gloucester say “ “take up to keepe” ; after press-correction of this page, later copies of Q1 read instead “take up the King.” About ten years later, Q1 was reprinted and, as luck and the perverse gods that torment us kids in Textual Studies Summer Camp might have it, the four word passage of interest here again came out, “take up to keepe.” (I should be writing “vp” for “up” to be accurate, but Summer Camp allows for some relaxation of rigor.) Then, just a few years later, the Folio prints those words as, “take up, take up.”  

 

(Confession: When I was writing Shakespeare’s Revision of King Lear. I completely overlooked this “Q1 uncorrected- Q1 Corrected- Q2 - F variant.”  But I plead forgiveness because back then I did indicate many more interesting things that happen right hereabouts.)  

 

If you’ve been reading the Gerald Downs correspondence, you’ll see that he feels that either of the two alternatives to the first shot, “take up to keepe,” ain’t anything but typesetters or your odd corrector in the printing house doing what typesetters and correctors always did, or maybe stenographers and their  auxiliaries may have done: he says, “for one thing, “take up” looks . . . like emending . . . graphic error; achievable by anyone, and not to be taken as evidence for Shakespeare” (ellipses here from Downs’ own quote of his earlier writing).

 

Wakey, wakey!  Here comes the good part. Please turn in your Shakespearean Textual Camp Quarto and Folio Songbooks to (1) page G4-verso in the 1608 Quarto and lines TLN 2047-62,  or (2) to your Norton Shakespeare Facing Pages texts, pages 2408 and 2409 or (3) to pages 48-50 in your very own copy of Shakespeare’s Revision of King Lear .   

 

Look even briefly at the text surrounding the miniscule variant four-word passage.  Ka-pow-eeeeeee !  Big stuff happening! Stuff visible and comprehensible even to someone watching who doesn’t understand a word of the language. Both the quarto and Folio versions start this chunk of action when Gloucester comes in with news that a crew intending to slay the King will arrive within a half-hour.  

 

Q1 (corrected) has this degree of urgency:

 

GLOST Good friend-I prithy take him in thy armes

. . . .

take up thy master . . . .

 

take up the King and followe me, that will to some provision

Give thee quicke conduct.

KENT:   Oppressed nature sleepes.

This rest might yet  have balmed thy broken sinewes.

 

After Kent here addresses the sleeping Lear, he enlists the Fool to help carry Lear off. Glouster has another urgent speech: “Come, come away.” Then Edgar has fourteen lines of philosophical soliloquy, beginning “When we our betters . . .” He exits, and Cornwall and the other nasties bustle on, whipping themselves forward about their devilish business.  “Post speedily . . . Show him . . . Seek out . . . Hang him . . . . Pluck out his eyes.”

 

The Folio, here as in a number of other scene-ends, gives a tighter ending, far more urgent, more abrupt in its transition into the entrance of the baddies.  

 

Glou. Good friend, I prythee take him in thy armes . . . 

 

 . . . Take up thy Master,

 . . . .Take up, take up,

And follow me, that will to some provision

Give thee quicke conduct. Come, come, away. Exeunt

Scena Septima

Corn.Post speedily . . . .

 

No revery over the sleeping King, no command to the Fool, no philosophy from Edgar.  

 

Now, you have to see that this kind of end-of-scene variant—with a reflective, relatively slow-paced passage found in Q but not in F—is patterned, a re-design carried out repeatedly between the Lear texts.  Of course, I’ve been criticized unmercifully for saying that this is a “Shakespearean” or “authorial” change, and that actually anyone at all could have cut the Q material to leave what we find in F. Sure. Like anyone at all could carve Michaelangelo’s David by simply cutting out the marble that isn’t the statue.  

 

It’s when we line up instance after instance of patterns that most people don’t notice that we develop an argument for authorial revision. Interrupted speeches—signaled by incomplete grammatical structures at the ends of speeches—abound  in F  where the equivalent moments in Q do not call for a second actor to cut abruptly into the speech of the preceding speaker.   Interrupted exits, where an exit move is announced by a character but that move is blocked by an action (such as a counter-command) initiated by a different character, also appear repeatedly in F but not in Q. That’s the kind of thing that I track and illustrate in my Revision of King Lear book.  They are NOT like what may be found as cuts and changes in scripts being altered for “normal" presentations.

 

Could these distinct and repeated patterns of theatrical scene-making indeed be the result of some agent other than Shakespeare at work. Sorry. That isn’t what any other worked-over script from the period looks like. But could the “take up to keepe  (Q1 uncorrected, Q2) / take up the King (Q1 corrected) / take up, take up (F)” possibly have been done without an “author-function” ?  Yes, but it is supportable or even minutely important if and only if you rip it from its surrounding context.  

 

An aside about putting on Shakespeare’s plays in modern environments:  If you look at the Norton Shakespeare pages of this passage, you’ll see that there is a lot of nice white space left after the end of scene 3.6.  I used to rehearse my productions as if that white space was a convenient place to stop working on a scene. My bad. I found that if, instead, I ended work on such scenes after practicing the opening of the scene following, then I found that the play in production moved along like lightning because the transitions had been practiced and incorporated into the actors’ physical memories from the get-go. So, my dears, let me suggest that you use as a rehearsal unit NOT “the scene” but rather the transition into the scene—then the scene itself—and then the transition into the following scene.  

 

And that, boys and girls here in Textual Studies Summer Camp, is why we leave home, come into the wilderness, and  learn how to play nice with other kids.   

 

Now wash up for supper, the sweet-corn is going into the pot in a few minutes. 

 

Ever,

Counselor Steevie.

 

Aesthetic and Anesthetic

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0351  Friday, 24 August 2012

 

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

Date:         August 22, 2012 5:09:08 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: Aesthetic and Anesthetic

 

David Richman writes: “Perennial problem:  How do you shock the audience into experiencing anew a play the audience knows well?  We all cudgel our brains on that hard stone.”

 

Shock? 

 

I’ve always felt that good actors with tight direction took care of business as long as the play has merit. Why should you need to shock anyone?

 

(I remember from decades ago Tony Randall describing (I think on the Jack Paar show), how he had flown to London for the express purpose of watching Gielgud as Lear, and how he had wept through the entire last scene. And so had everybody else, apparently. But it probably didn’t surprise anybody.)

 

Cheers,

don

 

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