The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0060  Wednesday, 10 January 2001

From:           Moira Russell <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 09 Jan 2001 19:01:19 -0700
Subject: 12.0042 Re: Kent
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0042 Re: Kent

The description of the Papp staging (and James Earl Jones as Lear must
have been incredible) with Kent dying onstage reminded me of another
thread currently going on about the difference between staging and
reading Shakespeare.  I do also think Kent more or less dies of a broken
heart-he can't go on and there is nothing to go on for.  I don't think
it will even particular matter if he dies right there or dies a few
hours, or days, later; I don't think anyone can doubt the end is near at
hand for him.  But the description of Albany, stunned, "holding a crown
that nobody wants" sounds too tempting for a director to pass up,
especially because it makes such a wonderful ending image in contrast to
the beginning with power being doled out, refused, fawned for, grabbed,
and so on.  It reminds me of business I have seen in productions of
"Hamlet" where Ophelia teases Laertes behing Polonius's back during the
early leavetaking scene.  I think an affection between brother and
sister, and a certain perhaps affectionate impatience with their
father's endless proverbs, is clearly in the text, but it's not written

This probably gives rise to two topics:  What do we know about
Shakespeare's stage directions, and What are some of the differences
between reading and seeing a work which was originally written to be
performed, but which has since passed into the canon as a near-sacred
text to be studied first, performed second?  (I'm thinking of the
"typical" person's experience of Shakespeare here-someone far more
likely to read say half-a-dozen of the plays in high school and
continuing on to college, but who will probably never see that many in

Moira Russell
Seattle, WA

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