The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.066 Friday, 13 February 2015
From: Hardy Cook <
Date: February 12, 2015 at 2:19:59 PM EST
Subject: TLS: Theatre up Close
Theatre up close: Review by Lucy Munro
Thomas Middleton and William Rowley
Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, until March 1
The Jacobean tragedy proves a perfect match for the Sam Wanamaker playhouse
“’Twas in the temple where I first beheld her”, says Alsemero of Beatrice-Joanna, the woman with whom he has become newly infatuated, in the opening line of The Changeling. Middleton and Rowley’s play does not stage this moment, instead beginning with its aftermath, as Alsemero ponders his “holy” intentions towards Beatrice-Joanna, not knowing that she is already engaged to another man. In contrast, Dominic Dromgoole’s finely attentive production starts in the church, the location resonating throughout the play. The balcony above the stage is festooned with paintings representing Adam and Eve, a Madonna and child, and Christ healing a blind man, picking up the play’s pervasive imagery of Edenic perfection, the Fall, salvation and sight. Figurines of the Madonna and child are dotted along the balcony as it reaches out into the auditorium, and the railings that are periodically used to divide the stage resemble altar rails. The production opens in darkness, actors carrying dark lanterns with which they fleetingly illuminate each other’s faces. When Hattie Morahan’s Beatrice-Joanna enters, all the lanterns are focused on her, and her expression when she sees Alsemero (Simon Harrison) is less one of delight than of foreboding.
The set may take its cue from the “castle” plot, which focuses on murderous events in the fortress of Alicante, but one of the production’s strongest aspects is its retention of the “hospital” plot, in which another woman, Isabella (Sarah MacRae), is beset by rival suitors in the asylum run by her husband, Alibius (Phil Whitchurch). This plot is often cut to ribbons or excised completely by modern directors, but the parallels that it establishes enrich and complicate the more famous plot, notably by encouraging us to compare Beatrice-Joanna and Isabella, and the two servants, De Flores (Trystan Gravelle) and Lollio (Pearce Quigley), who subject them to sexual exploitation and violence. Moreover, the hospital comedy – sometimes broad, sometimes uneasy – is a counterpoint to the sardonic irony with which the actions of the castle plot are treated. Dromgoole underlines the connections between the plots with some fluid transitions between one location and the other. Characters from one plot occasionally wait at a door for characters from the other to enter, and there is a wonderful moment at the end of the dance of the “madmen” and “fools” in Act Four: they blow out all the candles, leaving the stage in darkness for the entrance of Beatrice-Joanna between the swaying chandeliers.
The retention of the hospital plot also adds to the claustrophobic quality of The Changeling, as the “madmen” and “fools” that comprise the patients in Alibius’s hospital constantly threaten to overrun the tiny Wanamaker Playhouse, appearing in its balcony, trapped behind its doors, and occasionally taking over its stage. In one striking moment, Antonio (Brian Ferguson), who has disguised himself as a “fool” in order to woo Isabella, takes refuge from the other patients by leaving the stage altogether and burrowing into the audience. This was one of a series of deft touches in this plot, such as a running gag about a “madman” who keeps trying to force his way onto the stage, only to be prevented by Quigley’s long-suffering Lollio. The Jacobean setting and costume made Antonio’s disguise seem less offensive than it might otherwise have been, and Ferguson’s sweetly innocent fool was far more engaging than the “real” Antonio, who emerged to confront MacRae’s subtle Isabella.
Written for an indoor playhouse, The Changeling appears perfectly suited to the Wanamaker, where asides, facial expressions and gestures appear almost as if in close-up even if one sits in the furthest balcony. When Beatrice-Joanna touches De Flores’s face as part of an attempt to ingratiate herself with the man she loathes, an audible shiver goes round the auditorium, and the flicker in MacRae’s face when Isabella is propositioned by Antonio, and her ambivalent reception of his kisses, underlines the pressures to which she is subjected. Morahan’s facial expressions in fact do much to deconstruct the standard account of the play that treats Beatrice-Joanna – in the words of Roberta Barker and David Nicol’s important critique of such readings – “as a spoilt child whose amoral decision to murder her detested fiancé is only a precursor to her slow realization of her repressed, subtextual desire for De Flores”. The great scene of mutual incomprehension, during which De Flores eventually makes Beatrice-Joanna believe that she has no choice but to submit to his lust, was authentically disturbing, and beautifully played by Morahan and Gravelle. Further, Beatrice-Joanna’s “love” for De Flores in the later scenes of the play was based less on the quality of his sexual service than on his capacity to arrange events to suit her. This was something finer and more complex than the “warped love story” that many have seen in the play, and more true to its multilayered ironies.
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.065 Friday, 13 February 2015
From: Hardy Cook <
Date: February 12, 2015 at 2:10:41 PM EST
Subject: TLS: A Gift from Poetry
A gift from Poetry
The newly discovered First Folio in Saint-Omer
By Jan Graffius
The announcement by Dr Rémy Cordonnier in November last year that a previously unknown Shakespeare First Folio had been identified in the Salle de Patrimoine of the Bibliothèque de Saint-Omer raised some intriguing questions. Evidence suggests that it was once the property of the English Jesuit College, founded in Saint-Omer in 1593 under the protection of Phillip II to provide a Catholic education for boys that was forbidden on their native soil. The town was then part of the Spanish Netherlands and a major thoroughfare for English recusants crossing the Channel. St Omers College – the College name was anglicized very early in its history – flourished on the Continent for just over 200 years, numbering, at its height, some 150 boys aged between eleven and eighteen, and offering a rigorous humanist education in line with the principles laid down in the Jesuit Ratio Studiorum, centred on Latin, Greek, Philosophy, History and Rhetoric. It was also, in common with its Jesuit counterparts elsewhere, renowned for its dramatic productions. In 1620, the school had four music rooms and a theatre; by 1685 it possessed a Wardrobe for the Stage, Music-schools, a Great Theatre, a Little Theatre and a Common Magazine of the two Theatres in addition to a substantial drama library, highly necessary as a resource for the College’s prodigious dramatic output. (Nearly 300 St Omers manuscript dramas from the 1620s to the late eighteenth century survive in the archives of Stonyhurst College.)
Drama was an art form in which the Jesuits excelled and with which they were associated almost as soon as they opened their first educational institutes. Jesuit drama, for the most part in Latin (there are some 500 printed volumes of plays and declamations at Stonyhurst), rapidly evolved to become synonymous with ostentatious productions, huge casts, complex scenery and costume, sophisticated technical skills, and music and ballet to rival court and public productions. Jesuit masters used plays to train memory, instil confidence, enhance musical ability, and encourage gentlemanly accomplishments such as dancing and deportment in their young charges. The memorizing of Latin drama fostered the understanding of the language, as well as of Classical history. The Jesuit Spiritual Exercises, which underpinned the boys’ religious formation, require the candidate to locate himself within the gospel narratives using a mental composition of place to engage Christ in conversation. Such skills were naturally transferable to the stage, allowing a deeper absorption into character and situation. In addition, plays were devised or adapted to react to local religious circumstances; a most effective way of furthering the Jesuits’ missionary aims.
[ . . . ]
The English Jesuits of the seventeenth century were fully integrated into this European cultural mainstream and also in touch with the distant exploits of their missionary brethren. Among the lists of St Omers plays we find works of 1624 and 1642 dramatizing Gonsalvo Silveira, martyred in South Africa in 1561, the Nagasaki Jesuit martyrs of 1597 and an undated piece entitled Montezuma sive Mexici Imperii Occasus. But in addition English Jesuits were acutely aware of cultural and political developments in their native land and took a lively interest in pre-Reformation British history, an area of bitter contention between Protestant and Catholic theologians.
Scholars have known for some time that the St Omers College library possessed a Quarto copy of Shakespeare’s Pericles by 1619, and that the English Seminaries at Valladolid and Douai owned Second Folios in the seventeenth century. Shakespeare’s eclectic mixture of history and tragedy clearly appealed to English Catholic institutions in exile. The clandestine performance of Pericles for the recusant Sir John Yorke at Gowlthwaite Hall, Nidderdale, by the Cholmeley Players on Candlemas in 1610 suggests that Catholics living in England saw in Shakespeare a means of sustaining their outlawed religious identity through metaphor, similar to their use of coded Jesuit emblem books. Bearing in mind the tightly-knit nature of the English recusant community, it is not impossible that this performance of Pericles was connected with the arrival of the Quarto at St Omers.
[ . . . ]
The Saint-Omer Folio has been annotated and is missing some thirty pages, which implies frequent and less than respectful usage. The images of the few pages which have so far been made public occur in Henry IV Part I. In Act 3, scene 3, Falstaff’s references to a bawdy song and a bawdy house have been excised; the Hostess, Mistress Quickly, has been replaced by a Host in Act 2, scene 5 (the Jesuits prohibited the portrayal of female characters on their college stages). Speeches have been cut, and stage directions added in English. Without having had the opportunity of examining the complete text it is not possible to offer more than conjecture, but these few glimpses provide strong evidence of a play being made fit for performance in an English Jesuit school for boys and young men.
If there was a First Folio at the College, how and when did it find its way there? The book was published in November 1623 at the steep cost of one pound per volume. There was a significant movement of books to and from England through Saint-Omer at this time, and particularly through the College. The St Omers Press, founded in 1608, produced a wide number of spiritual titles intended mainly for the underground English Catholic market. Unbound books were smuggled to England via Antwerp and distributed through secret Catholic networks. It was not a one-way traffic; College accounts of the late seventeenth century mention quite large sums paid for books bought from England as well as from Europe. So frequent was this traffic that the Jesuits used the phrase “parcels of books” to refer to the illicit Channel crossing of pupils, being less likely to arouse suspicion with the English authorities if the letters were intercepted. A book such as the First Folio could, therefore, quickly and easily have found its way from England to St Omers.
The Folio carries an apparent ownership inscription, “Nevill”, on the first page of the The Tempest. College pupils and English Jesuit priests habitually used aliases for security; sifting out the likely candidate from the dozen or so alumni who took the name of Neville is problematic. One suggestion which has been put forward as the donor of the Folio is Edward Scarisbrick, alias Neville, but there are difficulties with this. Scarisbrick attended St Omers as a pupil, arriving, aged fourteen, in 1653, and leaving in 1660 to join the Jesuit Order. In 1675 he returned briefly to St Omers as Prefect of Studies before returning to the missions in Lancashire. Francis Clarke’s Innocentia, for which, as we have seen, he needed access to a Folio,was produced in 1654. If the donor was indeed Scarisbrick, he must have acquired this expensive book as a young boy and deposited it in the library on arrival – a slightly unlikely scenario.
A more plausible candidate to have donated the Folio is Edmund Sale, alias Neville, another English Jesuit priest. Sale had been a pupil at the College, leaving in 1621 at the age of seventeen to seek ordination in Rome. In 1629 he spent a year on the missions in England, moving to St Omers as Master of Poetry in 1630 and returning in the same capacity in 1632. The post of Master of Poetry refers to the teaching, not of literature, but of a specific year-group of seventeen-year-old boys. (Jesuit classes are traditionally named from the acquisition of skills in language – Elements, Figures, Rudiments, Grammar, Syntax, Poetry and Rhetoric.) Each year group was expected to produce one or two performances annually, their complexity depending on the boys’ age and ability, but Poetry invariably put on the annual end-of-year showstopper, written and produced by their teacher. This was such an arduous task that as early as 1586 the Ratio Studiorum regulations for Jesuit education appealed for common sense to prevail: “this project, troublesome and laborious enough in itself, becomes well-nigh intolerable when the many details of the work fall to the lot of the professor of Poetry. He ought rather to be considered as having done his part in composing the play”.
[ . . . ]
The location of the library between 1762, when the empty College was taken over by English secular clergy, and 1792 when it was seized and turned into a Military Hospital, is unknown. The books of all religious communities in the town were sequestrated in 1792, and stored haphazardly in the confiscated Abbaye St-Bertin near the town centre. In 1799 the present Bibliothèque was founded and the various collections of books were moved there. During more than thirty-five years of chaos the College library had lost its integrity and its books have largely gone unidentified for 200 years, a situation now being addressed by Dr Cordonnier. The cataloguing project which unearthed the Folio will, it is hoped, lead to other significant finds from the English Jesuit library.
For the moment, there is much to be explored in the Saint-Omer Folio, and scholars keenly anticipate the imminent release of the fully digitized book. Its discovery will shed further light on Shakespeare’s significance for the Catholic world, on the riches of English and European Jesuit drama, and on the cultural life of exiled English communities in the seventeenth century.
TLS: Shakespeare on Capitol Hill
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.064 Friday, 13 February 2015
From: Hardy Cook <
Date: February 12, 2015 at 2:07:34 PM EST
Subject: TLS: Shakespeare on Capitol Hill
[Editor’s Note: The following appeared in a recent TLS as did the next two to follow. I will provide excerpts here; and if anyone wishes the entire article and does not have access to TLS, please contact me at
Shakespeare on Capitol Hill: Review by H. R. Woudhuysen
By Stephen H. Grant
The story of Henry and Emily Folger
244pp. Johns Hopkins University Press. £19.50 (US $29.95).
978 1 4214 1187 3
By 1924, Henry and Emily Folger owned sixty-seven copies of the First Folio – but they made sure as few people as possible knew about their obsession
Armed with Colt .45s, machine guns, riot pistols and tear gas, in October 1931, five guards in an armoured vehicle took the first batch of 350 of the rarest books collected by Henry Clay and Emily Jordan Folger from New York to Washington. The books were unloaded at night and placed in the library that the Folgers had endowed and constructed. Although the new library’s guards were armed and there was originally a shooting gallery in its basement, the story of how the Folgers earned and spent their money is not at first glance a violent one. Henry Folger made his money in the oil business, working for John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil (SO). He mastered the whole set of processes by which oil was produced and turned into different commodities; his skill in gathering, analysing and presenting statistics resulted in thousands of memos and a place as a director of SO responsible for its accounts. When the company was broken up as a result of anti-trust hearings in 1911, Folger continued to work in the business and remained Rockefeller’s right-hand man, or, as Stephen H. Grant puts it in his joint biography of husband and wife, his “longtime factotum and executive employee”; Folger’s work in the oil business was at times “on the margins of the law”.
Folger was born in 1857. He attended Amherst, graduating fifth in his class, studied law in New York and married Emily Clara Jordan in 1885. She was a year younger than him and had been educated at Vassar, after which she taught for six years at the Nassau Institute in Brooklyn; in 1896, she gained an MA from her old university with a thesis, supervised by the Variorum scholar Horace Howard Furness, on “The True Text of Shakespeare”. By all accounts, the marriage was an extremely happy one; the absence of children was offset by their extended families and by the books and manuscripts – “the boys” as they called them – the couple collected. They were ardent Congregationalists. Folger’s “epiphany” occurred in 1879 at Amherst when he heard the aged Ralph Waldo Emerson lecture. Their view of Shakespeare was essentially a Romantic and Transcendentalist one, although they both enjoyed going to the theatre, as long as the plays were uncut – Emily described the first American talking film of a play, The Taming of the Shrew (1930) with Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, as “Of course not Shakespeare, but entertaining”, characteristically adding “Besides, it’s amazing what 35 cents can offer!”
During their long marriage, the diminutive couple (he was five foot four, she five foot) devoted themselves to collecting books, pictures and objects (relics made from the Stratford mulberry tree were especially sought after) related to Shakespeare. What started as “an agreeable recreation”, Henry Folger said, soon became “a delightful hobby” and eventually “rather a tyrannical master”. They pursued the subject with what comes over as a chilly obsessiveness. They avoided social life as much as they could, limited their time with their families, lived very frugally and modestly in rented homes, with rented furniture and a small domestic staff. Grant leaves little room to doubt that Folger was “tight with his money”; he haggled over prices with book dealers, doing his best to drive them down and “could be counted on to pay, but only on his terms”. Those terms included absolutely no publicity. An article on Folger, written nearly two decades after his death, described him as “shy, taciturn”, adding that he “lived by three rules: Never tell what you’ve done, what you are doing, or what you are going to do”. “The American public”, Grant says, “knew almost nothing about” Folger. The couple concealed the extent of their acquisitions, failing to mention in 1924 in the one interview they ever gave that by then they owned sixty-seven copies of the First Folio. They deflected inquiries from other scholars about their collection, would not help Sidney Lee in his census of copies of the First Folio and did not loan their books, most notoriously, keeping the first Quarto of Titus Andronicus (1594) that they had bought in 1905 for £2,000 out of sight until 1936. They acquired the site for the Library in Washington “through patience, secrecy, and subterfuge”; it took them nine years to secure the fourteen grand houses that had only been built in 1871 and for which they eventually paid $317,000. The construction site bore no indication of what was being built there; as Folger put it, “We are not seeking any advertising, in fact we are doing our best to avoid calling attention to the enterprise”. Amherst only learned of the bequest of the Library and his estate to the University when his will was published.
[ . . . ]
Stephen H. Grant tells the story of the Folgers’ joint obsession clearly and efficiently; the illustrations he reproduces are particularly engaging. His concluding chapter deals with the Folger Library’s history after its founders’ deaths. Although the book is quite short, there is a certain amount of repetition in it (the fireplace in the baronial reading room remains unlit three times). Grant is happiest when describing the history of the couples’ two families and Folger’s business dealings, but Shakespeareans, book collectors and all who have worked at the Library and who love and admire it will enjoy Collecting Shakespeare.
CFP: European Society for Textual Scholarship UPDATE
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.063 Friday, 13 February 2015
From: Gabriel Egan <
Date: February 12, 2015 at 3:53:16 PM EST
Subject: CFP Update
Apologies to SHAKSPERians for sending a Call for Papers for the European Society for Textual Scholarship meeting without the call deadline. It’s 15 May 2015.
A revised CFP follows.
“Users of Scholarly Editions: Editorial Anticipations of Reading, Studying and Consulting”
The 12th Annual Conference of the European Society for Textual Scholarship (ESTS) will be held at the Centre for Textual Studies, De Montfort University, Leicester England 19-21 November 2015
The ESTS returns to Leicester where it was founded in 2001 to stage a major collective investigation into the state and future of scholarly editing. Our focus is the needs of users of scholarly editions and proposals for 20-minute papers are invited on topics such as:
* Are users’ needs changing?
* How does edition design shape use?
* Stability in print and digital
* Where are we in the study of mise en page?
* Facsimiles and scholarly editions
* Collaborative and social editing
* Editorial specialization in the digital age
* APIs and mashups versus anticipation
* The logic of annotation
* Is zero the best price point for editions?
* Readers versus users
* Can we assume a general reader'?
* Indexing and annotation versus search
* Editors, publishers and Open Access
* Is technology changing editing?
* Digital editions or digital archives?
* Are editions ever obsolete?
* Scholarly editions versus popular editions
* Any other topic related to the use or users of scholarly editions
Plenary Speaker (subject to confirmation) include:
Hans Walter Gabler (Munich University)
David Greetham (City University of New York)
Tim William Machan (Notre Dame University)
Gary Taylor (Florida State University)
Elaine Treharne (Stanford University)
Andrew Prescott (Glasgow University)
Hands-on workshops will be given on setting movable type, letterpress printing, and getting started with XML.
Proposals (max 300 words) for 20-minute papers should be emailed to Prof Gabriel Egan <
> by 15 May 2015
See http://cts.dmu.ac.uk/ESTS for information and registration
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.062 Tuesday, 10 February 2015
From: Charles Weinstein <
Date: February 9, 2015 at 5:44:32 PM EST
Subject: Shakespeare on Screen
>>Charles Weinstein writes:
>>In his new book Shakespeare and the English-Speaking Cinema, Russell
>>Jackson, adapting Heminge and Condell, writes: “watch the films again – and
>>again”. That would be difficult, since most of them are not worth watching at
>Help us out, Charlie. Which ones are worth watching?
1. I don’t believe that any of them are worth watching for the purposes that Jackson is promoting, namely scholarly purposes. My basic post on this topic (“Towards a New Dunciad,” 2002) may be found here: http://shaksper.net/archive/2002/189-march/15755-towards-a-new-dunciad. I later summarized one of its main points as follows:
“Whatever the angle or perspective, no matter how approached or how viewed, these movies aren’t good enough or important enough to be the subject of an academic discipline. Scholars who devote attention to them are wasting their time; those who give courses in them are depriving their students of a proper education; those who publish books and articles on them are contributing to the decline of academic, intellectual and artistic standards.”
2. I summarized another one of my main points as follows: “The plays are masterpieces; the films are not; and the plays and the films are not interchangeable.” That would seem to be crushingly obvious, but apparently isn’t in view of Jackson’s quoted statement.
3. Among the filmed Shakespeare plays that have appeared in the last 25 years (and I am referring to theatrical films), the only one that I would voluntarily re-see is Branagh’s Henry V. I would also take another look at Paul Scofield’s Ghost, but at nothing else in Zeffirelli’s Hamlet. My more specific comments as of 2002 (“A Renaissance in Need of Reformation”) may be found here: http://shaksper.net/archive/2002/189-march/15619-a-renaissance-in-need-of-reformation. I have seen nothing better since then.