The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0273  Wednesday, 27 June 2012


From:        Jack Heller <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         June 27, 2012 12:21:10 PM EDT

Subject:     Performance


>As soon as this thread began, I was reminded of the discussion 

>years back of the Simon Russell Beale’s Hamlet. I am not 



>I am also interested in how the “real” Hamlets (i.e., fixed and 

>stable) are known, except through performance.




This may be a late reply, but Hardy’s comment fits something I’ve discussed with several people recently. Last Wednesday, I attended the Shakespeare Behind Bars (Kentucky) performance of ROMEO AND JULIET. “Juliet” was performed by a middle-age former male skinhead, about as unlike in his own being from a thirteen/fourteen year-old teenage girl as a person can be.


But then, how persuasive were the boy actors in Shakespeare’s own time? Was Lady Macbeth a 14/15-year-old boy?


It would be easy to be condescending about the performances of a prison group, but the men worked on the play for about ten months before I saw the completion of their efforts. I am never going to confuse the inmate with Juliet herself, but the show as a whole wasn’t nearly as full of nonsense as some supposedly professional productions I’ve seen. The answer for every production, professional or amateur, is the same now as it was two centuries ago when it was first articulated, a WILLING suspension of disbelief. Once a person is willing, then we can tell if the effort has been rewarded.


There are no platonic ideal productions of any play.


Jack Heller

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