The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0286  Tuesday, 10 April 2007

From: 		Robert Projansky <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Friday, 6 Apr 2007 13:34:43 -0700
Subject: 18.0269 Alms for Oblivion
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0269 Alms for Oblivion

Charles Weinstein complains of the Stratford Coriolanus:

"The production's bankruptcy is signaled by its resort to borrowing at 
crucial moments."

To which David Lindley replies:

Why must everything be utterly novel? Can any production be 'all new'? 
After all, most of the audience will not have seen the other 
productions, and I would have thought the direction of Shakespeare,  and 
perhaps particularly at the RSC, suffers rather more severely  from the 
pressure to make it 'new' at all costs than from borrowing  from the past.

David Lindley is right on (but for the idea that the suffering is worse 
at the RSC than elsewhere). There is no artist more abused by novelty 
than WS. That's how you get MOV idiotically set in a bordello or TN at a 
beach resort. "Borrowing from the past" onstage is hardly a sign of 
bankruptcy; in the world of the theater it's rather seen as homage than 
as stealing. Imitation is sincerest flattery. Nobody in the audience has 
seen every production of everything and nobody (save perhaps Mr CW) 
suffers by a director's choice to reproduce something he/she has 
previously seen and liked. Nor is this limited to directors: pretty much 
any actor will admit to using something he/she has seen another actor do.

Some years ago I saw Kevin Spacey play Jamie, the older brother in Long 
Day's Journey into Night, on Broadway. If you want to share the 
experience, rent the film and watch Jason Robards play that role (back 
when he was himself an active alcoholic). Spacey's performance seemed to 
me about 80% channeled Robards -- and he was terrific, best in the play 
by far. Stealing? Bankrupt? Not to me.

Bob Projansky

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