MV Dialog

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.307  Monday, 19 September 2016

 

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

Date:         September 16, 2016 at 12:54:08 PM EDT

Subject:    MV Dialog

 

BASSANIO AS ESSEX [cont.1]

 

5. The wealthy Andrew and the diamond gone.

 

EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE:

 

SALARINO My wind, cooling my broth,

Would blow me into an ague when I thought

What harm a wind too great might do at sea. 

I should not see the sandy hour-glass run

But I should think of shallows and of flats.

And see my wealthy Andrew docked in sand

Vailing her high top lower than her ribs

To kiss her burial. Should I go to church

And see the holy edifice of stone

And not bethink me straight of dangerous rocks,

Which, touching but my gentle vessel’s side,

Would scatter all her spices on the stream,

Enrobe the roaring waters with my silks,

And in a word, but even now worth this,

And now worth nothing?

(1.1.22-35)

 

SHYLOCKE Why, there, there, there, there, a diamond gone 

cost me two thousand ducats in Franckford…. 

(3.1.76-77)

 

 

CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE:

 

In mid 1596, the English launched a major amphibious attack on Cadiz, Spain’s main port. Charles Howard, the Lord Admiral, commanded the naval forces. Essex organized the fleet and commanded the land forces.

 

The English expected to find an Armada-style force. Instead, they found 30 - 40 mercantile vessels preparing to sail for the Indies and guarded by only a few galleys and four galleons, which were called the Four Apostles. The English fleet, with many more men-o’-war, attacked. Two Apostles went aground and two were captured. One of these was the San Andres, later renamed the Andrew and added to the English fleet of war ships.

 

Instead of securing the valuable mercantile vessels, the Lord Admiral refused a ransom of 2 million ducats and demanded 4 million. Refusing to paying such a sum, the Spanish scuttled the merchant fleet, and 12 million ducats worth of cargo lay on the bottom of the bay.

 

The English sacked and burned Cadiz, making off with whatever plunder they could find. On their way back to England, a contingent of English soldiers, led by Essex, attacked the Portuguese town of Faro — which they also sacked and burned. The inhabitants took to the hills, carrying what little treasure they possessed. Essex looted an excellent library of the local bishop, and lated donated its contents to his friend Thomas Bodley for his library at Oxford.

 

Speaking of Bodley. Essex lobbied Elizabeth to appoint him as her Principal Secretary. However, Elizabeth appointed Robert Cecil to the post instead. Essex lost — again — to the Cecils.

 

Essex arrived back in England around the end of August 1596. He felt that he had achieved a great victory, and prepared a propaganda document extolling his heroic actions, entitled A true relation of the action at Cadiz the 21st June, under the Earl of Essex and Lord Admiral, sent to a gentleman in Court from one that served there in good place. Elizabeth got wind of its existence and issued an order prohibiting anyone from publishing it.

 

In addition, much of the plunder that the English had captured never made it to the Queen, who had invested £ 50,000 to finance the expedition. One of these items of booty was a huge diamond, intended for the Queen but never delivered. The Queen barely covered her expenses. Essex walked into her court, expecting praise but receiving a tongue-lashing.

 

(from Lacy, Robert, Earl of Essex)

 

SPECULATION

 

Shakespeare has Salarino mention the Andrew at line 26, and has Bassanio enter only 30 lines later. His description of the lost cargo would have called to mind the valuable cargo lost when the Spanish scuttled their mercantile ships. The diamond lost that Shylock mentioned may have referred to the diamond intended for the Queen. These were each actual events associated with the Earl of Essex, and of which the London populace would have been aware when MV was first performed sometime in mid-1597 to mid-1598.

 

Essex came back sporting a full square beard that he hoped would set a fashion. I imagine that the actor playing Bassanio had such a beard, and also wore some courtier-clothing that had previously belonged to Essex. (Elizabeth required her courtiers to wear new clothing. The courtiers would give the old clothing to their servants, who would sell it to the playing companies.) We have no evidence of anything related to performance, so this speculation is more speculative than most.

 

 

6. A scholar and a soldier.

 

EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE:

 

NERISSA Doe you not remember Ladie in your Fa-

thers time, a Venecian, a Scholler and a Souldier that

came hither in companie of the Marquesse of Mount-

ferrat?

(1.2.107-109)

 

 

CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE:

 

In Il Pecorone, Giannetto was neither a soldier nor a scholar.

 

Essex graduated from Cambridge as a Master of Arts while still a teenager. While at court he composed poetry and took part in dances. He also attended many plays. In addition, he was an excellent and enthusiastic jouster. By late 1596 he had been a soldier (with Leicester), a captain (in France), and a commander (Cadiz). He was contemptuous of those of his fellow courtiers who were not soldiers and who did not participate in the jousts.

 

[to be continued]

 

Bill

 

 

 

Albee Appreciation from the Times

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.306  Monday, 19 September 2016

 

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

Date:         September 19, 2016 at 10:13:44 AM EDT

Subject:    Albee Appreciation from the Times

 

By Ben Brantley

Sept. 17, 2016

 

Edward Albee never expected or even wanted you to like his plays. “Like” is too pale and friendly a word for the red-blooded emotions he hoped to elicit. Rage and bewilderment, fear and loathing and that grand old Aristotelian couple, pity and terror: These were all welcome and entirely appropriate responses to have in the theater of Mr. Albee, one of the genuinely great dramatists of the last century, who died on Friday at 88.

 

If you left one of his plays feeling good about yourself, then it would seem that Mr. Albee hadn’t done his job. But the real problem probably would have been that you hadn’t been paying attention. “You don’t listen,” as a character in one of his lesser-known plays kept saying to anyone who would — sorry, wouldn’t — listen. The challenge within that accusation rang through everything he wrote.

 

That play, “Listening,” was the first work by Mr. Albee that I wrote about as a critic for The New York Times. First staged in 1977, it had been revived in New York in the fall of 1993 by the invaluable Signature Theater Company, created by James Houghton (who died in August), which was devoting a season to Mr. Albee’s more obscure work.

 

By that time, New York critics and audiences had mostly turned their backs on Mr. Albee. It had been a decade since he had had new work produced in the city. And the feeling was that he belonged to an earlier, artier generation that took its provocative intellectual postures far too seriously.

 

Sure, the consensus seemed to go, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” the marital boxing match of a play that had been made into a movie starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, was great. But, be honest now, did anyone really understand such arcane plays as “Tiny Alice” and “The Lady From Dubuque,” with all their cryptic, cosmic talk?

 

Being just another New York sheep, I had probably absorbed that perspective without even thinking about it. But as I left “Listening,” and its companion piece “Counting the Ways,” in 1993, I realized that my mind was still churning, in excitement and agitation and a bit of annoyance, in ways it seldom did at the end of any show.

 

I wrote in The Times that I was certainly glad to be able to listen to Mr. Albee again. He in turn wrote me a crisp and courteous letter, saying it was refreshing to be treated fairly again.

 

As it turned out, New York was more than willing to embrace Mr. Albee again. (O.K., maybe not embrace, since that implies huggability; writing about Mr. Albee, the most exacting of semanticists, makes you question every word you use.) That same autumn of 1993 saw, in addition to the Signature season, the New York premiere (Off Broadway, at the Vineyard Theater) of Mr. Albee’s “Three Tall Women,” a portrait of the three ages of a rich and selfish suburbanite who was clearly modeled on the playwright’s adoptive mother.

 

It became the must-see play of the season for people who no doubt included fashionable, captious, wealth-insulated Americans rather like its title character. It also won the Pulitzer Prize for drama. And so began one of the greatest second acts in any dramatist’s career.

 

Soon, Mr. Albee would be back on Broadway again, first with an exquisite revival of his “A Delicate Balance” in 1996. Plays that had seemed annoying and obscure a couple of decades earlier, including “Tiny Alice” and “The Lady From Dubuque,” were reincarnated to illuminating effect.

 

One of his new works, “The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?” which opened on Broadway in 2002, put to rest any notions that Mr. Albee might have started playing nice with his audiences. The titular animal was the love (and lust) object of the play’s anguished married hero, first portrayed by Bill Pullman. You can listen to Mr. Albee — in the “Last Words” interview I conducted with him some years ago — contentedly cataloging the different points in the production at which theatergoers walked out.

 

He didn’t even mention the bit of dialogue that made me think, “No, surely he did not say that” — a description of a man dandling an infant on his lap and realizing to his distress that he had acquired an erection. In 2002, Mr. Albee was evidently still quite capable of making even jaded critics, who had done their time with the naked fornicators of fringe theater, squirm.

 

But it is never just the shocking detail that unsettles with Mr. Albee. What’s most disturbing, always, is his insistence that our most primitive instincts keep asserting themselves in even the most civilized settings, like a Minotaur at a cocktail party, and usually they wrestle us to the ground.

 

“Violence! Violence!” chants the mousy Honey, with a cheerleader’s delight, in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” And nasty eruptions of the impulse to hurt, and its frequent conflation with the sex drive, were always a part of the mise-en-scène with Mr. Albee.

 

So was death, with and without a capital D, most pointedly in “All Over”and “The Lady From Dubuque,” but its shadow looms large in everything Mr. Albee wrote. That unsentimental insistence on our mortality may have been the biggest turnoff to New York theatergoers of the mid-20th century. Mr. Albee repeatedly dared to ask what most of us retire to the closets of our minds for as long as possible: the fact of our inevitable ends, and what it means for our tenuous self-importance.

 

I should say that few dramatists of the 20th and 21st centuries matched Mr. Albee as a spinner of filigree dialogue. It can hold its own with that of Wilde, Shaw, Coward and Stoppard. Mr. Albee loved words and wordplay — sometimes to the point of giddiness. But he also made it clear that he fully grasped the inadequacy of language as a means of staving off — never mind defining — the darkness that waited to claim his characters.

 

Performing his work required, to borrow a title of his, a delicate balance. (“If I am sharp, it is because I am neither less nor more than human,” says Agnes in that play.) And one of the joys of my job as a theater critic has been watching performers, actresses in particular, discover that balance, with an appropriate mix of glee and bitterness, bravura and uncertainty. Kathleen Turner, Rosemary Harris, Uta Hagen, Marian Seldes and Elaine Stritch all created career-defining performances in Albee works.

 

I met Mr. Albee several times, socially and professionally. The first time, he pointed out that, like so many people, I had mispronounced his name. (“It’s AWL-bee, Ben, not AL-bee.”) Generally, he was gentlemanly, polite, reserved and attentive, in a way I associate with a long-gone era. There was power in his gaze, though, an assessing twinkle that you suspected might easily be fanned into a flame that could scorch.

 

Once I saw him, for an interview, the day after I had attended a new play of his at the McCarter Theater in Princeton, N.J. I told Mr. Albee that my 20-something nephew, whom I had taken to the show, had greatly enjoyed the production. “Good,” said Mr. Albee, who then paused and added, “I hope he didn’t enjoy it too much.”

 

 

 

Shakespeare-Themed Novel on the Bestseller List

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.305  Monday, 19 September 2016

 

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

Date:         September 14, 2016 at 10:20:40 PM EDT

Subject:    Shakespeare-Themed Novel on the Bestseller List

 

Dear colleagues,

 

Three announcements regarding my novel, JULIET’S NURSE, which imagines the 14 years leading up to the events in ROMEO AND JULIET from the point of view of the nurse.  

 

Like my first novel, this work draws on academic scholarship to present history to audiences who wouldn’t necessarily read an academic article.  

 

*Random House Canada has just released a new paperback version, which is #2 on the historical fiction bestseller list (beating out Annie Proulx at #3).  

 

*A nice review also appeared last month on Medivally Speaking:  http://medievallyspeaking.blogspot.com/2016/08/leveen-juliets-nurse.html

 

*Those of you who like to include contemporary novels in your medieval/Shakespeare courses might want to check out the free interdisciplinary teaching guide http://loisleveen.com/images/authorpage-images/Juliets-Nurse-Instructor-Guide.pdf

 

Thanks,

Lois Leveen, PhD

Kienle Scholar in the Medical Humanities, 

Penn State University College of Medicine

 

 

 

CFP for Shakespeare’s Things

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.304  Monday, 19 September 2016

 

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

Date:         September 18, 2016 at 4:32:21 PM EDT

Subject:    CFP for Shakespeare’s Things

 

Shakespeare’s Things:

Agency, Materiality, and Performance

 

Co-edited by Brett Gamboa (Dartmouth College)

and Larry Switzky (University of Toronto)

 

We invite contributions for a peer-reviewed essay collection solicited by Palgrave Macmillan on the liveliness, actual or apparent sentience, and uncanny autonomy of objects in Shakespeare’s plays. The surge of new materialisms across disciplines, including thing theory, actor-network theory, speculative realism, and object-oriented ontology, opens up new possibilities for understanding the latent forcefulness of things—from stage props to statues to dead bodies to coastlines—and the social, economic, and ecological assemblages of human and non-human matter that collude in the creation of Shakespeare’s theatrical worlds.

 

We welcome essays that address this renewed focus on the potency of things through individual plays and props as well as specific subject-object relations that emerge in text and/or performance. We also encourage essays that approach Shakespeare’s plays through the cluster of recent theoretical approaches, loosely gathered under the heading of New Materialism, that propose that all matter is agential and that non-human matter exerts force with and against human agents (who can also be understood as a kind of matter). We envision the collection as a combination of historically situated analyses and readings of the plays through contemporary theoretical concerns. Essays might address the plays through one of the following cruxes:

 

--Early modern theories of matter and materiality

--Anthropomorphism and anthropocentrism

--Fetishes, gifts, and other things that function as virtual persons

--Challenges and opportunities in staging actor-object relationships

--The operation of non-human forces on and in the human

--The body politic as a combination of human and non-human actors

--Moral responsibility and motivation in assemblages of persons, objects, and forces

--Animation and the refusal to be animated as political acts

--Environmental formations (e.g. storms and geographical features) as agents

--Stagings and adaptations with puppets and other performing objects

 

Please send abstracts of 250-500 words (for essays of 5000-6000 words in length) and a brief c.v. to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. andThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by no later than November 15, 2016. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions about individual topics or the volume as a whole. 

 

 

Rhodes College: Global Early Modern Position; Brotton and Shapiro Discussion

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.303  Monday, 19 September 2016

 

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

Date:         September 17, 2016 at 3:13:20 PM EDT

Subject:    Rhodes College: Global Early Modern Position; Brotton and Shapiro Discussion

 

Dear SHAKSPER,

 

I write to share a position announcement as well as an upcoming event.

 

The English Department at Rhodes College invites applications for an Assistant Professor of English (Tenure Track). We seek a scholar of non-Shakespearean early modern literature, with a particular focus on global and transnational approaches to the era. We would welcome additional interest in digital humanities, film studies, gender and sexuality studies, or race and ethnic studies. The 3/2 course load includes introductory through advanced offerings within the department, as well as first-year writing seminars and other general education courses. Please apply online at https://jobs.rhodes.edu/postings/1865

 

On February 22 Rhodes College will host Jerry Brotton and James Shapiro for a discussion about Judaism and Islam in early modern England. Brotton just published a brief piece in the New York Times on “England’s Forgotten Muslim History” in anticipation of his forthcoming book “The Sultan and the Queen: The Untold Story of Elizabeth and Islam.”

 

Please feel free to contact me for more information.

 

Yours sincerely,

Scott Newstok

Department of English

Rhodes College

www.rhodes.edu/newstok

 

 

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