The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0767. Thursday, 17 July 1997.
Date: Wednesday, 16 Jul 1997 06:59:37 -0700
Subject: Fake/Real Identities, SHREW-inspired
I'm doing a production of SHREW at the moment, and we've come upon a
curiosity in IV, 4 when Tranio is coaching the Pedant to disguise
himself as Vincentio. The Arden edition reads:
TRA: Sir, this is the house. Please it you that I call?
PED: Ay, what else? And but I be deveiv'd
Signor Baptista may remember me
Near twenty years ago in Genoa
Where we were lodgers at the Pegasus.
TRA: 'Tis well, and hold your own, in any case,
With such austerity as 'longeth to a father.
but notes that the Folio attributes the "When we were lodgers" line to
Tranio, suggesting that Tranio is supplying the Pedant with more
imaginary details (assuming no error of printing).
Despite the obvious problem that it's entirely conceivable Baptista has
never been to Genoa, leaving a huge danger of discovery (as I was quick
to point out, as I'm playing Baptista), we've remarked how modern a
concept this strategy of "Character Improvisation" is, in which a
character has to create a different person out of thin air AND supply a
new bogus history for that imagined identity.
The question then arose: examples of characters assuming imagined
identities abound, but it's almost always a masquerade as a non-existent
person. When else in Shakespeare does a character pretend to be someone
who actually exists, as the Pedant disguises himself as Vincentio? And
how does this change the approach to the subterfuge?