Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0490. Friday, 28 June 1996.
Date: Friday, 28 Jun 1996 08:28:29 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Michael Kahn's Comment
Having set this little mini-storm off, I have stayed away from the Michael Kahn
exchange, and even now I have only a couple of minor and incidental comments to
make. Remember what Ed Pechter says; you have only my paraphrase, not
Michael's words. But even that paraphrase comes nowhere close to Rick Jones'
subsequent paraphrase of my paraphrase. Michael said nothing whatsoever that
would fuel the New Critics' notion of Shakespeare. Telling an actor that, from
the director's perspective, the line means what it says is nothing like saying
"It's all in the text," without referent to outside sources, meanings,
contexts, information, and so forth. Michael said nothing of that kind at all.
But what has amused me, and I think kept me silent (with a resolve not to drop
others' ideas into the lion's lair again) is the extent to which people who in
their internet exchanges love to hold firm, clear, opinions - some of which at
times seem rather silly to me, some of which seem intelligent, some of which I
forget quickly - jumping to insult as a "pompous twit" a director of some
repute who is reported to hold a strong opinion himself. Come on, guys, don't
the opinionated love others who are the same? What pleasure does it give you to
insult Michael Kahn indirectly for something he is merely reported to have
A FOOTNOTE TO MY RECENT NON-RESPONSE TO THE MICHAEL KAHN REPLIES: I do urge
you all to pay particular attention to Stacy Keach's comments. Not only does
he gloss EXACTLY what Michael meant (and wrote) in his Preface, but he has the
experience to prove it, as he has been directed by Michael. And, by the way, I
have heard Mark Lamos work in a very similar manner, to get actors back to the
point of the language with the assumption that characters mean what they say
and that the first interpretive choice is to find out what it is that they are
saying. What director in the world would try to restrict interpretive choices?
Neither of these, for sure, but both do begin with the idea that the
characters say what they mean and mean what they say, and interpretation takes
off from there.