The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0865 Thursday, 28 March 2002
Date: Sunday, 24 Mar 2002 21:41:27 -0000
Subject: Acting the Bard
Please forgive me if I have mixed up or lost my threads but I re-read W.
L. Godshalk when he wrote:
> (a) What are the laws of the theatre? Has anyone
> codified them? Do they
> limit creative response to the script?
He went on to enquire as to the validity of actors/directors inventing
backstories/histories for leading Shakespearean characters. My rule is
- when in doubt - look at the text. If no history exists then the
master dramatist did not mean you to imagine one. It may automatically
throw up an emotional memory - but that is natural and not a deliberate
acting method. As in the mystery of Iago's hatred or the origin of the
Capulet/Montague feud, we simply do not know and cannot know. What we
are led to in theses cases is a more fundamental and universal
archetypical emotion - one that is known but cannot be easily
described. Iago HATES. That is all the actor is given and all he must
go with. It is the nature of Shakespeare's soul. If there is a simple
worldly reason for the hatred then it will be moderated with reason and
all purity of hatred will be lost. If there was a reason for the hatred
then reason might dispel it. Iago, like Aaron, has an unquenchable and
never-ending hatred. It is Satanic, demonic and quite terrifying.
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