The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0803  Wednesday, 27 April 2005

From:           John Reed <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 26 Apr 2005 22:18:32 -0700
Subject:        Re: Early Performances of Bottom

This looks like an interesting topic, to me at any rate, since I am also
interested in cinematic adaptations of Shakespeare, and how the plays
may have been performed on the original stage.  I wish I could offer
some sound academic pointers, but I don't have much academic stuffing to
begin with, and I'm more and more coming to believe that recovery of the
original performance is probably going to be more a matter of the
imagination as opposed to scholarship.  I think it might have been
Einstein who said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge."
Maybe it was Niels Bohr.  Anyway, after pondering these questions for
quite some time I think the modern performances, all of them, are
grossly different from what originally took place, because most of what
occurred or occurs on stage is dominated (mostly at an unconscious
level) by theories of drama which themselves are a subset of what might
be called theories of reality.  And Elizabethan vs. modern Western
theories of reality seem to be quite different.

There are a number of parameters (I hate to use the word "thing") that
may have been variables on the original stage which are constants or
nearly constants now.  One of them might be character appearance.  So in
the phrase "an ass might have looked like" there is almost the
supposition that Bottom had one and only one appearance (at any given
time): of course he looks different when he has the head on compared to
his other head.  I think this scene is a good example of an instance
where the character appearance is a variable: regardless of what kind of
prop he is wearing, Bottom does not look the same to everyone who sees
him.  Anytime a supernatural character is involved it's suspicious in
this regard.

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Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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