The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0285  Monday, 10 June 2013


[1] From:        Pervez Rizvi <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         June 8, 2013 1:40:56 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: Away Tybalt 


[2] From:        Alan Dessen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         June 8, 2013 3:35:02 PM EDT

     Subject:     Silence 




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

Date:         June 8, 2013 1:40:56 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: Away Tybalt


I had hoped that Alan C. Dessen would reply and tell us from his specialist knowledge if Away is paralleled elsewhere as a stage direction. He has kindly done this. In the example he quotes, the Away is self-evidently dialogue which Brome happened to embed in a stage direction. So it would seem that there is no parallel.


Among the other examples Prof. Dessen asks for, one that comes to mind is in the Folio text of Othello at TLN 1283, where Montano, after his brawl with Cassio, says: “I bleed still, I am hurt to th’death. He dies.” In the quarto, the phrase “He dies” is not present. The phrase is printed in roman type in F, so it is dialogue on the face of it. But another interpretation is that Shakespeare at first intended the drunk Cassio to kill Montano, not just hurt him, and the phrase was a stage direction. Montano is not the governor of Cyprus by this time, so it seems less plausible to me that he should sentence a soldier under Othello’s command to death than that he should, having said he has been hurt to the death, be as good as his word and die (at least in Shakespeare’s first draft). “He dies” is a standard stage direction and it is not uncommon for characters to announce their death with their dying breath. Desdemona and Othello do so later in the play, as do Romeo and Juliet, and others. 


A couple more examples, from Q1 of The Merchant of Venice. In Bassanio’s casket scene, at the bottom of page E4r, the phrase “Replie, replie” is clearly part of the song (“Tell me where is fancie bred,”) but it is right-justified as if it were a marginal stage direction for someone to reply to the question just asked in the song. Later in the scene, on page F2v, Salerio enters as a messenger and says to Bassanio: “his letter there | vvill show you his estate. open the letter.” The phrase “open the letter” is right-justified and in italics, so intended as a stage direction. It would work perfectly well as dialogue, being a plea by Salerio to Bassanio, who has just deferred opening the letter to ask for other news instead. 


There are probably more examples for others to find.


Against Alan Dessen’s interpretation of The Winter’s Tale, we may note that the entry direction for Hermione at the start of the scene has her enter “(as to her Triall)” and later in the scene, at TLN 1283-4, she says that she has been “hurried | Here, to this place, i’th’ open ayre”. This suggests to me that she was, unlike Katherine, not already present on stage when called and was intended to be brought in guarded, perhaps looking a bit cold and windswept, an effect easy to achieve on an open-air stage on an English winter afternoon. Moreover, Hermione clearly has no intention of being silent. As soon as the indictment is read, she does not wait on court procedure but launches straight into a series of long and moving speeches in her defence.



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

Date:         June 8, 2013 3:35:02 PM EDT

Subject:     Silence


John Drakakis calls attention to the figure of Innogen in Much Ado who is cited in two stage directions (1.1.0, 2.1.0) but otherwise is given no lines (a single reference to Hero’s “mother” at 1.1.105 does not require her presence).  Since I am not an editor or a director but an interested bystander, I can waffle on such matters. However, I did enter this debate over twenty years ago in a SAA seminar when reacting to a provocative and well-argued essay by Michael Friedman who had directed the play with a visible silent presence of a Mrs. Leonato in 4.1 and 5.4.


I confess to considerable doubt about the presence of Innogen at all, especially after 2.1. As Michael notes in his essay, “her presence at the marriage of her daughter . . . can make a significant contribution to an emphasis on the enforced subservience of wives,” but here we are moving into a very murky area where interpretation can readily ease into translation or appropriation.  If X is not cited in a s.d. but speaks or otherwise is clearly present in a given scene, the s.d. is obviously incomplete.  The result is one kind of “ghost” to be found in both playhouse MSS and supposed “bad” quartos.  But if X does not speak a line in the entire play and is not cited in any s.d. after 2.1.0, that (for me) sets up a “ghost” of a different color. 


My “solution” (if I can dignify a guess with such a term) is that the presence of Innogen in two early s.d.s is a product of Plan A (perhaps linked to one of Tiffany Stern’s plot-scenarios) or “an unrevised first thought,” that in turn was superseded by Plan B at some point in 2.1 with the entrance of Ursula and Margaret (who are not cited in a s.d.), figures who, in some respects, take on what might have been the original function of a mother figure. I can offer John no evidence for such a claim, but to me the absence of Innogen after 2.1.0.s.d is a deafening silence.


As to “Peace I will stop your mouth” in 5.4, I believe that the line belongs to Leonato (as specified in Q1) and have seen it staged that way at least twice to good effect without the playgoers realizing that they were seeing anything unusual.  E.g., if one favors a “mutuality” approach (as at the end of Shrew), having Leonato close the argument might leave B & B as equals rather than having the man have the topping line-word—and that interpretation would best fit with the mouth stopped being his, comparable to a possible effect at the end of Love’s Labors where Armado’s Mercury-Apollo line could be directed at Berowne.


My other pet “silence” problem is not in Much Ado but in 2 Henry IV and is generated by another textual anomaly where in 5.1 Q1 (with a very crowded page) does not include Justice Silence whereas the Folio (with plenty of space) does (along with Davy and the Page). Since Silence has no lines to speak in this scene (as opposed to 3.2 and 5.3), editors regularly leave him out. My argument (which I will not invoke in full here) is that, despite the absence of any lines to be spoken, the presence of Justice Silence in this scene could set up a tug-of-war or psychomachia with Justice Shallow the chooser, Davy the tempter to a miscarriage of Justice (the favoring of a known knave against an honest man), and Silence the alternative. If Davy is placed on one side of Shallow and Silence on the other, the latter could be overruled, ignored, or simply mute in disagreement. Moreover, in this staging the “silence is consent” proverb (found in Tilley’s dictionary) is being acted out and linked to the state of Justice under the dying Henry IV. What starts as a textual anomaly—a difference in detail between the two early printed versions to be adjudicated by an editor—may be the residue of a meaningful onstage effect in the original performances, albeit one in their theatrical vocabulary rather than ours.


Enough, enough. The rest is silence??


Alan Dessen


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