RSC’s Julius Caesar on DVD

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0455  Tuesday, 13 November 2012

 

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

Date:         November 13, 2012 11:51:32 AM EST

Subject:     RSC’s Julius Caesar on DVD

 

[Editor’s Note: Illuminations is the same company that released the Sonnets iPad app I am so pleased with. –Hardy]

 

For release on DVD December 4th 2012 by Illuminations JULIUS CAESAR by William Shakespeare

 

Contact Louise Machin for review copies on 020 7288 8409 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Directed by newly appointed RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran, Julius Caesar is a fast-moving thriller about a struggle for democracy as well as a love story united by an explosive act of political violence between two men. Set in post-independence Africa, this film parallels the recent overthrow of dictators during the ‘Arab Spring’ as it explores the implications of political assassination and the unpredictability of its aftermath. 

 

Shot on location and in the RSC’s theatre in Stratford, Julius Caesar, produced for the BBC, features the original cast of a thrilling stage production whose cast of distinguished black actors includes Paterson Joseph as Brutus, Jeffery Kissoon as Julius Caesar, Cyril Nri as Cassius, and Ray Fearon as Mark Antony. 

 

After its run at the RSC and nationally, Julius Caesar transfers mid November to the Moscow Arts Theatre and will be the first full scale RSC production to perform in Russia since 1967. The tour is a legacy of the World Shakespeare Festival 2012. 

 

Produced for the BBC, the film was broadcast as part of the Shakespeare Unlocked season to celebrate London 2012. 

 

The DVD includes previously unseen footage in The Making of Julius Caesar 40-minute documentary, which features key cast and crew interviews.

 

191 minutes                       DVD £17.99

 

Illuminations is a leading producer and publisher of cultural media with a distinguished history of making programmes about the arts, digital culture and ideas. More performance DVDs can be found online at www.illuminationsmedia.co.uk

 

Louise Machin

Illuminations

Essential media about the arts

 

A: 19-20 Rheidol Mews, London N1 8NU

T: +44 20 7288 8400 F: +44 20 7288 8488

W: www.illuminationsmedia.co.uk

 

Please note my usual working days at Tuesday and Thursday

 

Company details

Illuminations Television Ltd., registration no: 1613547

Registered office: Trojan House, 34 Arcadia Avenue, London N3 2JU

Registered in England and Wales

 

[From web site: 

 

A fast-moving thriller about a struggle for democracy, William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is also a love story between two men united by an explosive act of political violence.

 

Based on the Royal Shakespeare Company’s acclaimed stage production, Gregory Doran’s film for BBC Television sets the action in post-independence Africa. With echos of the recent overthrow of dictators during the ‘Arab Spring’, the production explores the implications of political assassination and the unpredictability of its aftermath.]

Play Length

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0454  Monday, 12 November 2012

 

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

     Date:         November 8, 2012 9:30:46 PM EST

     Subject:     Re: Play Length 

 

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

     Date:         November 9, 2012 12:33:20 AM EST

     Subject:     Re: Play Length 

 

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

     Date:         Monday, November 12, 2012

     Subject:     Play Length

 

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

     Date:         November 10, 2012 8:52:47 PM EST

     Subject:     Re: Play Length 

 

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

     Date:         November 11, 2012 11:43:32 PM EST

     Subject:     Urk, yet again 

 

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

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

Date:         November 8, 2012 9:30:46 PM EST

Subject:     Re: Play Length

 

Hardy M. Cook wrote:

 

>I can easily accept John Briggs’ (and George W. Williams’ at 

>Blackfriars Conference and in Shakespeare Newsletter) contention 

>that two-hours traffic meant anything less than three hours, but 

>I find it difficult to believe that, at least, the Globe audiences would 

>have stood for four or four and a half hours for a play.

 

Well, they do now, and I don’t suppose we are more tolerant of either standing and/or having to concentrate than Elizabethans were.

 

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

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

Date:         November 9, 2012 12:33:20 AM EST

Subject:     Re: Play Length

 

>I find it difficult to believe that, at least, the Globe audiences would 

>have stood for four or four and a half hours for a play.

 

But would they have stood that long to hear a total entertainment in which the play was sandwiched between pre-play juggling, singing, etc. and a post-play jig? If so, it would have been fairly easy to adjust the lengths of the pre- and post-play entertainments to accommodate shorter or longer plays, as Mike Hirrell persuasively suggests in his groundbreaking SQ article.

 

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

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

Date:         Monday, November 12, 2012

Subject:     Play Length

 

>I can easily accept John Briggs’ (and George W. Williams’ at 

>Blackfriars Conference and in Shakespeare Newsletter) contention 

>that two-hours traffic meant anything less than three hours, but 

>I find it difficult to believe that, at least, the Globe audiences would 

>have stood for four or four and a half hours for a play.

 

I guess I was revealing my Presentist leanings: I probably should have written that I cannot stand for a four hour play (or three or two or one, for that matter). 

 

William’s and Larry’s and Steve’s points noted. I might add, with no hope of generating controversy, that Elizabethans were perhaps more able to concentrate after listening to extremely long sermons.

 

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

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

Date:         November 10, 2012 8:52:47 PM EST

Subject:     Re: Play Length

 

Steven Urkowitz (on my congratulatory notes to his play-length article):

 

> If he had written only this line, “I agree with Steve that

> longer plays were acted essentially as written” . . .

 

If only that were my style.

 

> As part of my conclusion I said only that those textual

> arguments which depended on the shorter texts as being

> derived from the longer ones should be re-examined.

 

I began the exam, which I’m willing to continue. Steven observed,

 

>>> . . . it is reasoned that the radically shorter . . . “bad” quarto

>>> versions of plays such as Romeo & Juliet . . . represent texts

>>> somehow derived from the supposedly cut down “originals”

>>> found only in . . . longer forms.

 

I still say “there can be no real doubt that the corrupt texts derive from plays nearer to the better texts.” Chambers observes of R&J, “Q1 is certainly a ‘reported’ text, and its derivation from an original more closely resembling Q2 is apparent” (v.1, 341). I’m sorry Chambers is using a debater’s trick. I fell for it, thinking he was stating an opinion that I had come to myself.

 

Q2 R&etc. is better in most respects. The question for me is not whether Q1 is shorter, but where it comes from. Chances are, the good text is also the ‘good’ length because it is nearer the ‘original.’ When Steven speaks of texts “somehow derived from the supposedly cut down ‘originals’ . . .” he implies (and now repeats) that bad texts may not derive from demonstrably better texts. But they obviously are derivative—not independent. Steven’s arguments from earlier years champion the bad texts, despite the evidence in each case. His ‘length’ essay seems meant to support his early theme. I can cite evidence in support of Chambers.

 

> But important, consistently-structured and patterned

> textual variants he ascribes to “corruption” could with

> greater likelihood arise from different sources found in

> related documents such as authorial manuscripts.

 

Structure and patterns are largely irrelevant to the ‘memorial’ question, which comes first.

 

> But ““There can be no real doubt “is a debater’s trick that

> gives the appearance of certainty without the obligation

> for further evidence or argument . . .

 

I am myself certain of the memorial reporting.

 

> (Downs’s favored sources, hypothetical, corrupt

> transcriptions from dictation, or shorthand, or from memory,

 

Steven confuses the issues here. All is hypothetical to some extent, of course. I don’t believe any of the bad quartos derive from ‘dictation’ per se, which implies a voluntary (if paid-for), non-performance, whole-cast reprisal before a stenographer—with no help in transcription. McMillin and others favor that source largely because shorthand was dismissed as a method of transmission.

 

Memory plays a role, by definition, in any form of memorial reporting. A shorthand report necessarily depends on actors’ memories. The key is the availability of written text from an unbroken series of transcriptions deriving from authorial copy. Any transmission not in reference to copy is memorial.

 

> Another problem: For R&J, he claims that “Q1 is the

> record of a performance, as a comparison of the

> prologues shows” . . . Gerald can SAY that a comparison

> will show, but in order for standers-by to believe him he

> really should do the showing.

 

The memorial gist of Q1’s prologue corroborates the rest of the play. The whole case, easy as pie, nevertheless requires citation from earlier studies. Most current views are clouded by Laurie Maguire’s “not MR” assessment. But if her misinterpretation of the evidence is corrected in reference to shorthand theory, former scholarship is vindicated.

 

> Maybe Q1 R&J . . . was performed as it appears in

> the printed text. Or a performance with quite different

> words and actions may have been badly transcribed and

> the transcriber accidentally and creatively came up with

> what we read in Q1.

 

Transcription error can’t account for Q1 R&J.

 

> The proposed story I think Gerald believes of it being a

> record of performance, i.e., a transcription taken down

> by shorthand – or memorially reconstructed,

 

I don’t think the bad quarto in this case is a memorial reconstruction; it’s a theatrical report of a play long in repertory. The players could do it in their sleep; and they did.

 

> or generated through a transcription of a  purposefully

> compressed Q2 text in order to reduce it into two hours

> traffic –

 

Q2 didn’t exist. If Q1 is a report it was played pretty much as is. The shorter text is not imaginary and not transcription.

  

 > Jerry asks, “What reason do actors have to speak

> quickly?” Ah. Here we’re at the aesthetics of performance.

> Slow speech by actors of Shakespearean texts yields

> b-o-r-i-n-g performances.

 

What reason do actors have to speak slowly?

 

> But my experience as a director and as a member of

> audiences tells me that verbal quickness is a sign of lively

> performance.

 

Why not speak three times as fast, and jump around?

 

> But then Gerald Downs swings at one of the fine

> practitioners of our scholarly craft.

 

To criticize a practitioner is not necessarily to “swing at.” The option is to let faulty work pass as good.

 

> He says: “Grace Ioppolo hasn’t identified any foul-paper

> text satisfying any definition, including her own.” 

 

> Grace Ioppolo has done the tough and painstakingly

> detailed work of examining the documents. Here’s a

> sample: “Heywood’s 1624 autograph manuscript of his

> play The Captives is a foul-paper text that offers a full

> example of an author in the act of composition. . . . In

> his manuscript of The Captives, Heywood is obviously

> in the act of composing, not copying, unsure as he writes

> which characters will appear in which scene . . . (Dramatists

> and their Manuscripts in the Age of Shakespeare, 94-5).

> Her discussion is crystal clear, her illustrations abundant,

> and her conclusions consistent with the evidence she so

> generously provides.   

> If Gerald Downs can’t see the virtue and validity in

> Grace Ioppolo’s work, then all I can do is recommend

> that we all look at Grace’s work and learn from it, And

> that we then turn to Gerald Downs derogation of her

> excellent scholarship and hold him up to the ridicule of

> the polis

 

Every publication invites criticism. Dramatists is often poorly executed, not least in its study of The Captives. For example, in describing its first page, Ioppolo asserts that Heywood “has made a few currente calamo changes . . . . These are most noticeable . . . [in] the crossed-out line ‘ffor instanns, who so ffond’. . . . He has made some major cuts . . . by simply drawing a vertical line close against the margin . . . . These deletions are also currente calamo . . .” (98).

 

Arthur Brown (MSR) observes that [Heywood’s] hand appears to have gone through the play a second time making further alterations and marking passages for omission in a different ink [Ink 2]” (vi). Of the first page, Fol. 52a, referring to the same deletions as Iopollo, Brown notes that the “deletion here [’for instance’], the cancellation of 11-34, the deletion of yet and the insertion of all are in Ink 2” (1).

 

A different ink “going through a second time” is never currente calamo. Iopollo makes no mention of Ink 2 (other than to suggest Heywood later added a second deletion line). But almost all of Heywood’s alterations throughout the play are in Ink 2, including deletions of hundreds of lines. Otherwise, the authorial manuscript is remarkably clean—so clean that it cannot support claims—the only claims that matter—that foul papers cause the numerous corruptions of the Shakespeare canon.

 

Heywood adjusted his text first time round (and second time round), as any author might in any case, but I agree with Honigmann that the ms. is fair copy. Iopollo’s assessment depends on her mistaken description. There’s no dispute about this: “If Heywood is fair copying here, rather than composing in foul papers, his deletions are early enough in the text that he could easily have abandoned this sheet and started over . . . . Instead he marks the cuts . . . showing that he is still engaged in the act of composition”. The large deletion on the first page occurs after the whole text was put to paper. Starting over was not an option.

 

What must really be happening is that Heywood and a players’ rep are cutting the play together after it was finished. Iopollo agrees the hand behind “Ink 3” is a theatrical figure, but she asserts his “only substantive changes to dialogue and content are his cutting of two minor characters and their speeches in one scene” (113). But Ink 3 deletes at least fifty lines elsewhere, sometimes extending Heywood’s cuts.

 

This is not “valid work”; it is mistaken and conclusions drawn from it are also faulty. Anyone depending on her report of Heywood’s play will be misled. I spoke more of this in 2008. Another practitioner’s work is on the horizon, however; more may be said of this play in Paul Werstine’s latest treatise on a number of manuscripts. In other words, calling for ridicule (speaking of debating tactics!) may not end discussion. I would even like to see it continued here.

 

Gerald E. Downs

 

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

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

Date:         November 11, 2012 11:43:32 PM EST

Subject:     Urk, yet again

 

Steve Roth would like to rescue some greater flexibility about shortened plays. First off, I’d like to get some number attached to the idea of how often anyone mentions two hours as the length of a play. Is it ten? A hundred? Help! 

.  

Next, it would be so simple if only the changes between long and short texts dealt primarily or even secondarily with length. That’s the red herring  that leads speculation away from the CONTENT of the textual variants, especially in the radically-variant Shakespearean quartos and folios. 

 

The Padua Promptbooks show  how a company interested in reducing playing time would go about cutting to reduce length, but those don’t at all resemble the quarto and  folio variants found in Shakespearean texts.

 

Right now there’s this heavy stress on a hypothetical urgency to cut a play down to two hours.  But if you’re trying to reduce a play, then to my mind there’s no reason to bring in changes of characterization, plotting, or relationship to sources, especially where many of those changes don’t reduce the play’s length.  Those other textual changes that do not reduce length have traditionally been ascribed to various sources of transmissional error—forgetful or extemporizing actors, sloppy scribes, and (why not?) stenographers juggling imprecise coding technologies.  

 

(I’m skipping over the problems of the publication of these supposedly post-composition versions prior to publication of the longer “original” texts, as well as the corollary problems of the publication of full-length or “good” quartos, their  somehow still-undiscovered shortened-to-two-hours versions, and those multiple texts like Richard III and Othello where we find two overly long versions somehow emerging into print. )    

 

For a number of years I’ve been showing how the largest portion of these so-called transmissional errors can be maintained as errors only by the theatrically-tone-deaf and creative-process-blind defenders of a fantasy of Authorial Abstinence, “Just Say No to Revision.”  

 

Okay.  So my rhetoric is getting away from me, and I shouldn’t even imply that my immensely  kind and supportive  friends and mentors who happen to feel that Shakespeare wasn’t responsible for the most interesting textual variants we find are in any way blind or deaf.     But . . . . but . . . . but . . . .  let me give you a f”r’instance.  You can check it out yourself.   

 

Among the Duke of York’s sons, in the 1595 Octavo text on a number of occasions Richard is set out only as equal to his brothers, but in the Folio he is instead singled out as being more energetic, brave and aggressive than his brothers. I’ll give two instances:  At the grisly moment in the opening scene when Richard trumps his brothers shows of martial prowess by holding up the head of Somerset, the dialog runs, “Rich. Speake thou for me and tell them what I did.” and poppa says, “What is your grace dead my L. of Summerset?” In the Folio, York’s line reads, “Richard hath best deserv’d of all my sonnes. / But is your Grace dead . . . “ A few scenes later, York in the Octavo reports:

 

Three times this daie came Richard to my sight,

And cried courage father: Victorie or death. 

And twise so oft came Edward to my view,

With purple Faulchen painted to the hilts,

In bloud of those whom he had slaughtered.

 

A brave Richard, but a twice-as-brave Edward. But in the Folio, the equivalent of the third line above reads, “And full as oft came Edward.”  Richard in this text rallied his father just as often as did his elder brother.  And in lines only found in the Folio, York continues: 

 

And when the hardyest Warriors did retyre,

Richard cry'de Charge, and give no foot of ground,

And cry'de, A Crowne, or else a glorious Tombe,

   A scepter, or an Earthly Sepulchre.

 

In these examples, the Folio text highlights Richard. I’ll stop here with the suggestion that you look for more of these kinds of variants yourself.   

 

If we wish to cling to the idea that the shorter versions were derived from the pre-existing longer ones, and were cut for primarily theatrical rather than literary values, then we have to conclude that some agency carefully leveled Richard’s character for the performances which were then memorially or stenographically or minimally or collectively transcribed into whatever was used as the copy for the Octavo. But then they may have been slipped back in on occasion?  Yikes!   Maybe Lukas Erne and Stephen Orgel and Andrew Gurr and Gerald Downs can believe that the Shakespeare and his actors or the pirates or the stenographers would do that. I can’t.  Maybe because I’ve made so many more blunders in my life than most people, I have a different “feel” than these guys about what an error looks like.

 

Here’s an alternative hypothesis: Suppose that Shakespeare wrote the form of the play underlying the Octavo.  And then in the fullness of time—say as long as it took him to write his way to the end of that manuscript, or maybe after that Octavo form may even have been played by a company of actors—suppose further that he developed the idea that the NEXT play he’d work on would feature Richard.  Then suppose that he had the opportunity (because of changes in personnel, in the ownership of texts, or entering into new venues, or his own relationship to the transforming acting company at hand) to go back to revise and add to that script underlying the Octavo. “ Hmmmm,” Bard wonders,  “How can I beef up Richard’s part, prepping the audience for this upcoming play? “ And so we find those purposeful and detailed changes from what was first inscribed for the version underlying the Octavo appearing in the Folio.  

 

Thought is free.   Evidence is golden. 

 

Look at the texts. 

 

Urquartowitz    

 

p.s.  I’m sorry, Gerald Downs, but  I went through Stone’s book when it came out. I thought he was blowing smoke back then. I’m having too much fun doing things other than extricating coherence from those flabby books.  

 

p.p.s. Hardy Cook questions the willingness of people to stand for the four hours or more that an afternoon in the theater seems to have called for.   Well, in a not-so-sedentary age, many people (even of high rank like Elizabeth’s courtiers) did a lot of standing.  I built myself a stand-up desk, and I clock that length of time on my feet most days.  My dad was a letter carrier, did that much and more standing and walking for more than fifty years.  And people waiting to vote in Florida last week.  And in the London Globe, as I recall, there’s a lot of milling around comes with admission to the yard to ease stiffening legs (at least before the recent reconfiguration of the yard which seems to hold benches and a lot of extended stage platform and access stairs now; to me it looked that way in the “live” broadcasts of All’s Well and Much Ado I saw in the last few weeks).

 

CFP: “Transformative Literacies”

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0453  Monday, 12 November 2012

 

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

Date:         November 8, 2012 5:04:42 PM EST

Subject:     CFP: “Transformative Literacies” 

 

“Transformative Literacies”

A Medieval and Early Modern Studies Interdisciplinary Conference

University of Maryland, College Park – April 19th-20th, 2013

 

The Graduate Field Committee in Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of Maryland invites submissions that explore the topic of “Transformative Literacies” for a graduate student-faculty conference that will be held April 19th-20th, 2013, at the University of Maryland, College Park. This two-day interdisciplinary conference aims to foster insightful and vigorous conversation on this topic through an innovative format that includes paper panels, roundtables, and plenary sessions (TBA). 

 

The Committee seeks submissions that explore the ways in which written and visual materials transformed the medieval and early modern world.  Suggestions for related topics include but are not limited to:  the creation, collection, and use of illuminated manuscripts; the history of the book; the history of the printing press and various printing techniques; technological advances related to literacy; the role of the print, both as a textual illustration and as a work of art; collecting practices for books and printed materials; the role and legacy of works of medieval and early modern literature; the influence of classical literary sources; access to literary and visual sources; the impact of theatrical performances; the role of literary institutions, including universities, libraries, and monasteries; the significance of written and visual materials in matters of religion and politics; textual and visual sources as propaganda; literacies in the non-Western world; myths about literacy; and the relationship between gender and literacies.

 

We invite participants from all disciplines who specialize in the medieval and early modern periods, and we especially encourage submissions from scholars in non-Western fields and those who engage the concept of literacy in new and creative ways.

 

Please send abstracts via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. no later than Monday, December 31, 2012.  For 15-20-minute papers, please send a 300-word titled abstract; for a complete 3-4-person panel, please send an overall title and individual 300-word titled abstracts for each paper.  Please indicate “Transformative Literacies 2013” in your subject line and include an e-mail address and a telephone number at which you may be reached.  Be sure to note in your email any expected audio-visual needs (including special software needs).

 

Emily Russell

The George Washington University

Assistant to the Director, MEMSI

Play Length

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0452  Thursday, 8 November 2012

 

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

     Date:         November 7, 2012 4:17:44 PM EST

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Play Length 

 

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

     Date:         November 7, 2012 9:33:07 PM EST

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Play Length

 

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

     Date:         Thursday, November 8, 2012

     Subject:     Play Length 

 

 

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

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

Date:         November 7, 2012 4:17:44 PM EST

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Play Length

 

If we accept Steve Urkowitz’s arguments and conclusions wholesale, we must be convinced that Shakespeare’s longer plays were at least sometimes played uncut. (I don’t think that he would claim “always,” or even close, though I may be wrong.) Fair enough. But “sometimes” is more than a little squishy. Given the predominance of two- and (less-frequent) three-hour references throughout the period, and the many quite explicit references to longer plays being cut for the stage, I tend to conclude that those plays were often or even most often (but okay: not always) cut for performance. The frequencies, beyond these rather vague adverbs, seem impossible to determine.

 

A key question which arises in my mind, at least: how did these proportions vary in different venues? Were they more frequently cut for Globe performances, and perhaps to a lesser extent at Blackfriars? Were they played uncut at court? (Despite some rather energetic digging, I have found no solid evidence for long playing durations at court.) Did more-educated audiences have more tolerance for lengthy performances? This seems like a perfectly reasonable surmise, but nothing more. I don’t think there’s any solid evidence showing that private-theater, inns-of-court, court, or private-residence performances by S’s company (or others) were longer than those in the public theaters.

 

University performances are quite another matter, one that’s of particular interest because despite bans on public players performing at universities (bans which seem to have been largely enforced and honored), a very short version of S’s longest play (Q1 Ham) advertises on its title page that it (or the play, anyway, in some form) was performed at both Oxford and Cambridge—the universities, not just the towns.

 

We have very good evidence of university men tolerating/enjoying long performances. I’m surprised to find that Steve doesn’t cite the most monumental of those: Thomas Legge’s Richardus Tertius, staged at St. John’s College, Cambridge in March, 1580 (with possible revivals up to 1588). Alan Nelson calls it “the most ambitious dramatic performance ever attempted in England (before or since) . . . a play in three parts given on three successive nights, running to a total of some 10,000 lines [in Latin], with the same actor taking the lead role on all three nights.”  (Early Cambridge Theatres, Cambridge, 1994. p. 61.) 

 

So it’s a perplexingly contradictory conundrum to find the Hamlet university performances cited in a half-length edition—a conundrum no matter what provenance and intention one asserts for that version.

 

But in any case: assuming Steve is right, S’s long plays would sometimes be played uncut. What’s important, it seems to me, is that S knew that. And we can surmise (though only that) that those uncut playings were more frequently before his best customers—the educated courtiers, inns-of-court men and the like who would also pay three or six pence for the gallery seats at the Globe, and (later) even a shilling for a Blackfriar’s seat and more yet for a seat on the stage—or multiple pounds for command and private performances at court and elsewhere. Shakespeare knew that, too.

 

So that in itself could explain why he wrote such long scripts, even though he knew that they would (most?) often be cut for performance. He was writing for his best customers, and knew that the groundlings could and would be served as well via shorter versions. This hardly seems like a stretch or a crazy notion.

 

But here’s what Shakespeare also knew, unequivocally: that his plays were being purchased and read in print form. At least a dozen had been published, for instance, prior to the 1600/1601 debut of Hamlet as we know it (plus the very popular narrative poems, and the sonnets that seem to have been circulating in manuscript among those who could afford transcripts—all of which were explicitly for reading, whether silently or aloud). 

 

Those printed plays were being read. They weren’t being purchased as prompt books or scripts for performance (except perhaps rarely—certainly not enough to support a publisher’s edition). And again, the plays were being purchased and read by his best, most educated, most prestigious customers—those who were inclined and able to drop a shilling for the published versions (plus binding).

 

Plus: considering the incestuousness of the cross-pollination and competition among his fellow playwrights—especially the densely cross-referential poetomachian melee in the late 1590s and 1600/01, pre-Hamlet—he must have known that his rival/fellow playwrights were buying and reading his plays as well. 

 

It’s true that we have no evidence of S’s involvement in his plays’ publication, and some circumstantial evidence of his non-involvement. But publication involvement notwithstanding, it seems wildly improbable to me that S would have ignored a large audience of attentive, prestigious, interested, and moneyed readers when composing.

 

As a writer I am keenly aware of how difficult it is to write well for multiple audiences, much less multiple venues and media. It seems to me that Shakespeare’s rather amazing ability to do that—to write simultaneously (and successfully) for both apprentices and for earls, for the stage and the page—goes a long way towards explaining why Shakespeare became “Shakespeare.”

 

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

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

Date:         November 7, 2012 9:33:07 PM EST

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Play Length

 

>A far simpler explanation, however, is that “two hours” meant “less 

>than three hours” - so a play lasting 2 hours and 59 minutes would 

>still be regarded as being “two hours” long.

 

I believe George Walton Williams made just this point some years ago in a paper at a Blackfriars Conference, if I remember correctly.

 

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

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

Date:         Thursday, November 8, 2012

Subject:     Play Length

 

I can easily accept John Briggs’ (and George W. Williams’ at Blackfriars Conference and in Shakespeare Newsletter) contention that two-hours traffic meant anything less than three hours, but I find it difficult to believe that, at least, the Globe audiences would have stood for four or four and a half hours for a play.

Speaking of Shakespeare with Nagle Jackson and James Shapiro

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0451  Thursday, 8 November 2012

 

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

Date:         November 7, 2012 7:01:00 PM EST

Subject:     Speaking of Shakespeare with Nagle Jackson and James Shapiro

 

Speaking of Shakespeare

 

After memorable conversations in September with JOHN LAHR, senior theatre critic for the New Yorker magazine, and in October with Hunter College’s IRENE DASH, the Shakespeare Guild is pleased to remind you about two upcoming programs that will continue its focus on the classical tradition in the dramatic arts.

___________________

 

A Conversation with Director Nagle Jackson

    

Monday, November 19, at 7:30 p.m.   

National Arts Club, 15 Gramercy Park South 

No Charge, but Reservations Requested

 

Not only has he earned acclaim on Broadway, at the Kennedy Center, and in other settings around the nation; NAGLE JACKSON was the first American to be invited to direct in the Soviet Union. As a producer he has enjoyed lengthy artistic directorships at the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre (1970-76) and at Princeton’s McCarter Theatre (1979-90), which has been recognized with a regional-theatre Tony Award. He has seven productions to his credit at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, along with shows in such settings as the Hartford Stage Company, the Seattle Repertory Company, San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre, and San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theatre. Mr. Jackson is also a dramatist and actor, and his many Bardic roles have included Autolycus (The Winter’s Tale), Bertram (All’s Well That Ends Well), Demetrius (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Feste (Twelfth Night), Lucio (Measure for Measure), and Octavius (Antony and Cleopatra).

___________________

 

James Shapiro’s BBC Series on Shakespeare

    

Monday, December 17, at 7:30 p.m.    

National Arts Club, 15 Gramercy Park South 

No Charge, but Reservations Requested

 

As the author of such award-winning volumes as Shakespeare and the Jews (1996), Oberammergau (2000), 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare (2005), and Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? (2010), Columbia University’s JAMES SHAPIRO has established himself as one of today’s most prominent scholars and reviewers, with frequent appearances on the Charlie Rose Show and other television and radio programs, and with numerous articles in periodicals such as the New York Times. On this occasion he’ll preview a riveting segment from his latest endeavor, a three-hour BBC documentary, The King and the Playwright, which has been shortlisted for a major TV award in the UK. After Mr. Shapiro screens his fascinating account of the 1605 Gunpowder Plot against James I and his court, and its impact on the chief dramatist for the theatrical company that profited from the monarch’s own patronage, he and the Guild’s John Andrews will join the audience for an engaging discussion of the episode.

___________________

 

Looking ahead, we’ll soon be announcing details about a special GIELGUD AWARD gala to take place on Sunday, April 14, at the GIELGUD THEATRE in London. This benefit will feature many of the luminaries who graced our April 2004 GIELGUD CENTENARY GALA, which occurred in the same venue and was co-sponsored by the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

 

For additional information about these and other offerings, as well as about membership in The Shakespeare Guild, visit the website below or contact

 

John F. Andrews

The Shakespeare Guild

5B Calle San Martin       

Santa Fe, NM 87506

Phone 505 988 9560 

www.shakesguild.org

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