The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0302  Tuesday, 17 July 2012


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

Date:         July 14, 2012 11:43:13 AM EDT

Subject:     RE: Corambis


Re: J. D. Markel on Corambis


Shakespeare would not have thought “Corambis, thy name dost sucketh.” 


He’d have thought either ‘“Corambis, thy name sucketh” or ‘Thy name doth suck’.


I’m sure I’m not the first to suggest that ‘Corambis’ might be a contraction of [I quote OED] ‘coram nobis before us (i.e. the sovereign) = in the court of King’s Bench’.


Polonius probably has associations with Poland, mentioned at least thrice in the play (cf. also ‘Polack’). 


A Dorothy Woods in early C17 Cheshire was robbed of several items, including shoes ‘with polonie heels’ (see Kermode & Walker, 1994, p89).


New DVD: Shakespeare’s Sonnets


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0301  Tuesday, 17 July 2012


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

Date:         July 13, 2012 4:04:48 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: Sonnets DVD


Kim Catrall !?


>For Release 20 July 2012 by Illuminations

>Shakespeare’s Sonnets 


>Illuminations, with Touch Press, Faber and Faber and The Arden 

>Shakespeare, present an exclusive DVD release, Shakespeare’s 



>Released alongside the acclaimed iPad app, The Sonnets by William

>Shakespeare, Shakespeare’s Sonnets features specially filmed 

>performances of every Sonnet by a star-studded cast of 42 actors and

>Shakespearean experts, including Sir Patrick Stewart, Kim Cattrall, 

>David Tennant, Simon Russell Beale, Dominic West, Fiona Shaw, 

>Dame Harriet Walter, Simon Callow, Stephen Fry, and poets Don 

>Paterson and Sir Andrew Motion. Other prominent experts on 

>Shakespeare include Professor James Shapiro and voice coach 

>Cicely Berry.




The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0299  Friday, 13 July 2012


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

Date:         July 12, 2012 10:28:37 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Corambis?? 


“I have long made the point that “Polonius” should be regarded as an agnomen, like “Coriolanus,” awarded to the young Corambis for his contributions as a warrior or statesman (more likely the latter) in the conquest of Poland.”


I think Larry Weiss’ observation is insightful and appealing.  I will add a few notes that may support Larry’s position, by means of looking at Shakespare’s word “Corambis.”  


I begin with the opinion these made-up classical names are often concocted by attaching a classical sounding ending, like -inus and -ibis, and sticking them at the end of a root word of classical or modern language, e.g., Sillius Soddus.  One root word for Corambis could be korax, meaning raven.  Kolax is also appealing because it means flatterer, and that fits Polonius.  In my experience people can mishear between “r” and “l” when writing things down, but any such experience pales in relavance to the fact Arisotphanes jokes about the mix-up between korax and kolax early in his play “The Wasps.”  The dialogue includes an insult-joke about have the head of a raven, but lisping the pronunciation, to head of a flatterer.  The conjugated words appearing are korakos and kolakos.  If Sh. read it in Latin, contemporaneous books show coracis and colacis.  The background for the joke is that Alcibiades was a well-known flatterer who had a lisp.


Plutarch treats Alcibiades at length in his Parallel Lives.  Near the beginning he refers to the raven-flatterer joke.  In North’s 16th century translation he provides a marginal note attempting to explain the word play of kora and kola.   In Amyot’s French addition the marginal note has it corax and colax.  So “coracis” or similar can be a nick name for Alcibiades.  Shakespeare surely read Parallel Lives, and his play Timon of Athens contains a major character named Alcibiades.  Like that Larry suggests for Polonius, the real Alcibiades was a stateman, but also a great warrior too.  Additionally, he was a flatterer, and good talker—like Polonius.  Best of all, the “Parallel” life Plutarch pairs with Alcibiades is Coriolanus.   They are connected.


However, there came a point when Shakespeare thought to himself, “Corambis, thy name dost sucketh,” because it is a crumby name, he aimed to change it.  And thinking about Alcibiades, he remembered Coriolanus and how his name was achieved.  So he gave Corambis a victory over Poland and the much better sounding name Polonius.


Or, if one takes the tack that Polonius came first, but that name might seem insulting to some people in some regard (e.g., Hibbard thesis), Sh., thinking about Alcibiades, took use of his raven-flatterer nick names as alias-material for Polonius.


Or something else.

The Secret Player


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0300  Tuesday, 17 July 2012


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

Date:         July 15, 2012 11:09:04 AM EDT

Subject:     The Secret Player by Jinny Webber


The Secret Player by Jinny Webber, will be published August 6, 2012. The first of a trilogy, it begins the story of the actor Alexander Cooke, player listed in the First Folio who is credited by Edmund Malone as originating Shakespeare’s principal female roles. The fictional twist: in this story, Alexander Cooke was born female. 


Copies ordered from the website before the release will be discounted: www.NebbadoonPress.com; Kindle and Nook versions available online after that date. 


Cover:icon The Secret Player (2.51 MB)

Isuzu Yamada (Kurosawa’s Lady Macbeth)


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0298  Friday, 13 July 2012


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

Date:         Friday, July 13, 2012

Subject:     Isuzu Yamada (Kurosawa’s Lady Macbeth)


I learned this morning of the death of Isuzu Yamada, who played the Lady Macbeth character in Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood, a film that is important to me in many ways. What follows is from today’s Washington Post.




Isuzu Yamada, 95, acclaimed Japanese actress

By Adam Bernstein


Isuzu Yamada, who became one of Japan’s most formidable and revered actresses and is perhaps best remembered as the treacherous wife of a warlord in “Throne of Blood,” director Akira Kurosawa’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedy “Macbeth,” died July 9 at a hospital in Tokyo. She was 95.


She died of multiple organ failure, the Japan Times reported.


A second-generation actor, Ms. Yamada appeared in more than 120 film and television roles in addition to her extensive theater career. She rose to movie stardom in the mid-1930s playing a series of “fallen women” — sometimes tragically sympathetic, sometimes tragically opportunistic —under the director Kenji Mizoguchi, whose films explored societal hypocrisies toward women.

In Mizoguchi’s “Sisters of the Gion” (1936), Ms. Yamada played one of two sisters who become geishas in Kyoto’s red-light district. Asserting that men use her as a plaything, she schemes to take her customers for every penny they have. She ultimately meets a ruinous end in what remains a man’s world.

Ms. Yamada played a self-sacrificing geisha in Mizoguchi’s “Oyuki the Virgin” (1935), which is based on a story by Guy de Maupassant and which is often considered a basis for John Ford’s landmark western “Stagecoach” just a few years later.


Her tour de force under Mizoguchi was “Osaka Elegy” (1936), in which she plays a telephone operator who sleeps with her boss to support her drunken, debt-ridden father and to pay for her brother’s education. Ultimately, she is scorned by all the men in her life and turns to prostitution. The film was lauded for its powerful ending: Ms. Yamada, all but enveloped in darkness, walks toward the camera — essentially accusing the audience of complicity in her fate.


Peter M. Grilli, president of the Japan Society of Boston, said Ms. Yamada specialized in portrayals of intense and willful women who “flew in the face of all stereotypes of submissive Japanese women. She was always the tough girl in movies. If I had to compare her to an American actress, I’d say she was a combination of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford — a very tough, self-aware, aggressive personality.”


Ms. Yamada’s fame coincided with a period of intellectual liberalization, including a flourishing of feminist writing, before the country descended into militarism and world war.


“She was riding that initial crest of independence, with a rethinking of the significance of women in society,” said Grilli, an authority on Japanese cinema, who created the Japan Society of New York’s film center in the 1970s. “Because she’s so assertive and so strong, she usually suffers for it, as Japanese women do suffer for it. She always comes to no good for being powerful.”


Ms. Yamada’s run of determined women continued after the war. In 1947, she starred in “Actress,” a biography of Sumako Matsui, a stage performer who helped introduce Shakespeare and Ibsen to Japanese audiences in the 19th and early 20th century.


As she shifted to character roles, she continued working with Japan’s top directors, including Yasujiro Ozu, Mikio Naruse and Kurosawa.


She played a vicious landlady in Kurosawa’s “The Lower Depths” (1957), based on Maxim Gorky’s play, and was a brothel keeper in “Yojimbo” (1961), which was later transformed into Sergio Leone’s spaghetti western “A Fistful of Dollars.”


“Throne of Blood” (1957), starring Toshiro Mifune as the warlord undone by his wife’s ambition, was performed in the stylized and austere Noh theater form, which forces passion inward and relies on subtle body language to convey emotion. The film elevated seduction, betrayal and madness to high art, notably when Ms. Yamada scrubs maniacally at her bloody hands.


Film critic Pauline Kael lauded the film as a masterpiece and wrote of Ms. Yamada that “there may never be a more chilling Lady Macbeth.”


Mitsu Yamada was born Feb. 5, 1917, in Osaka, Japan. Her father was an actor, and her mother was a geisha. She studied traditional Japanese dance as a child, made her film debut at 13 and became one of the biggest stars of the 1930s.


[ . . . ]


Subscribe to Our Feeds


Make a Gift to SHAKSPER

Consider making a gift to support SHAKSPER.