The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0008  Tuesday, 2 January 2001

[1]     From:   Stuart Manger <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 29 Dec 2000 18:26:41 +0000
        Subj:   SHK 11.2383 Re: The Revenger's Tragedy

[2]     From:   Geralyn Horton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 29 Dec 2000 14:54:51 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2383 Re: The Revenger's Tragedy

From:           Stuart Manger <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 29 Dec 2000 18:26:41 +0000
Subject: Re: The Revenger's Tragedy
Comment:        SHK 11.2383 Re: The Revenger's Tragedy

I have been involved in three productions of 'Revenger's Tragedy.' - as
producer twice and stage manager once.

Production 1:
Modern dress, Mafia gangster dress, mafioso waiters / Mardi Gras
festival / Night club setting for the final masque. Hence lots of actors
in masques + black suits / evening cloaks + red silk linings white ties
etc etc. all killings were done in a simulated tango, dancers both doing
the killings and weaving about apparently serving at tables. Audience
were at first sure who the killers were, as Vindice & Hippolito + two
heavies entered at one side, donned masques, then were totally and
deliberately confused over identity as they became enmeshed in whole
whirling swirl of dancers / waiters / guests. Victims stayed in their
chairs, slumped - wine? death? - then Lussioroso crawled to a phone to
utter is 'Treason1 ' line and fell into the arms of one of the 'waiters'
- Spurio et al- general bloodletting as step-brothers etc assume that
each is responsible for the killing. The Mafia style production made
this farcical bloodfest just about credible. In the confusion, it was
pretty easy for Vindice and Hippo to slip back in, mingle and contribute
to mayhem. Antonio was Capt of Police again making it fairly easy for
the two real revengers to confess their treason, have them re-arrested
etc. The problem was that it made for terribly tricky rehearsal.
Hilariously, the 'extras' kept killing the wrong victims, and in the end
we rehearsed by pinning huge numbers on the chests of the victims such
that each of the assassins could correctly identify their targets!! I
worked, just, and eventually we got the routine right. BUT imagine our
amazement when on the second night, a section of the college audience
began to cheer as each blade did its work as if it was some cartoon

Production 2:
Modern Dress: set in the South of France - Monaco perhaps?- in a
frightfully smart cabaret - it seems to me you have to contrive a
natural setting in which music / dance / dressing up and further
pretence are an essential, organic and therefore unquestioned part of
proceedings in their aristo life style. Again, a meal was being served,
while a Chippendales-style dance events was enacted on stage. As the
Chips (Vind / Hippo etc)  - all with eye masks - come down into the
audience for the usual titillation session, each produced a knife and
did the biz. Lussurioso had been depicted as a closet gay 'queen' figure
throughout the show, such that his eagerness and that of his 'entourage'
was again natural given the circumstances. This was done with no humour,
and indeed, many of the real audience did not fully realise until the
very last moments that anyone on stage had actually been killed at all!
Antomio in this show was the night club proprietor, had rung for the
police etc. And we closed out with much the same revelations round a
glass of something celebratory, but this time, Antonio had a sheaf of
photos of the murder of the Duke to back up his questions about how he
had come to be murdered. We played it that Antonio was completely sure
who had done the killing and in fact the photos were a trick to get Vind
/Hippo to confess. Antonio is left alone on stage at the end as the
killers are taken away, smoking a cigar, picking up the odd chair,
putting out the lights, coming downstage with a couple of dead bottles
in his hand, and smiling at the audience as the lights faded and we
heard the sound of the sea in the distance, and we are meant to glean
that the cycle is about to start all over again.

Production 3:
Stage managed this - done in trad courtly black Jacobean costume, eye
masks etc. Finding suitable music was a problem In the end we chose and
pastiched a wild, very macho 'estampa' as much like a kind of flamenco
sequence as we could, and the killings were done as if in jest / in the
act of dancing almost balletically with knives / swords. This was much
the easiest to stage but the one that made the least impact on the
audience since they really did have NO idea who was whom in the setting
chosen / and lighting - dark, almost gothic. BUT it was also the
bloodiest, and the one the ACTORS marginally preferred. They liked the
mystifying deception, the fact that all the identities were so confused
as the producer suggested was occasioned by the elaborate textual stage
directions. It meant that an awful lot of rabbits were pulled out of
hats in the final panto removal of disguise sequence! And we had to make
it into a panto sequence at the end, like a commedia dell'arte final
unravelling. The audience DID like that and laughed a lot.

Stuart Manger

From:           Geralyn Horton <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 29 Dec 2000 14:54:51 -0500
Subject: 11.2383 Re: The Revenger's Tragedy
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2383 Re: The Revenger's Tragedy

> >I'm currently writing a paper on carnival elements in The Revenger's
> >Tragedy (  I would be interested in hearing about other
> >productions, in particular the staging of the double masque in Act V.

I played the duchess in a production at the (Boston) Publick Theatre
twenty some years ago.  I remember very little about it, except that I
wore a lace-up corset under a black brocade costume, and that my nasty
paramour was played by Jay Foote, a generous intelligent actor.  I
remember working out with him the details of our wickedness, and
deciding how much of what we detailed should be seen by the audience or
other characters.  I'll look around for my script and see if reading the
words inspires any of the staging you ask about to emerge from my

 Geralyn Horton, Playwright
Newton, Mass. 02460

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