Parting Is Such Sung Sorrow

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0499  Thursday, 31 October 2013


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

Date:         October 31, 2013 at 8:59:53 AM EDT

Subject:    This Time Out, Parting Is Such Sung Sorrow


[Editor’s Note: This review is from today’s The New York Times. –Hardy]


“The Last Goodbye,” based on “Romeo and Juliet,” relies on Jeff Buckley’s music to supply the emotional resonance and depth of character established by Shakespeare’s verse.




October 30, 2013


This Time Out, Parting Is Such Sung Sorrow



SAN DIEGO — The sound of rock ’n’ roll is the sound of romance and rebellion, and there are no greater romantic rebels than Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare’s heedless young lovers, who defy the authority of their warring tribes, marry in secret, and willingly embrace the dark fate that unhappy circumstance has ordained for them. “The Last Goodbye,” a new musical adaptation of the play at the Old Globe Theater here, audaciously attempts to find the spiritual kinship between Shakespeare’s tragedy and the keening angst in the music of Jeff Buckley, the singer-songwriter who died in 1997 at the age of 30, as his promising career was gaining momentum.


Conceived and adapted by Michael Kimmel, the production is directed by the busy Alex Timbers. (Next up: the musical version of “Rocky.”) Mr. Timbers created a similar mash-up of Shakespeare and pop over the summer in Central Park, with his frolicsome collegiate update of “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” featuring original songs by Michael Friedman. There’s a signal difference between the two projects, of course: One play is a comedy, one a tragedy. Comedy, though famously hard to pull off, doesn’t require the depth of feeling that tragedy does, obviously. And while I thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Timbers and Mr. Friedman’s freewheeling reimagining of “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” I felt emotionally shortchanged by “The Last Goodbye,” despite the natural affinities between Buckley’s music, which sings with a throb in the throat of love’s tribulations, and the doomed passion of Romeo and Juliet.


The production has a stylish contemporary look. In their black rubberized denim and sleekly cut leather and wool jackets, the young Capulets and Montagues might have come straight from a photo shoot for a John Varvatos ad campaign. (The costumes are by Jennifer Moeller.) Christopher Barreca’s moody sets are dominated by a series of stone arches suggestive of ruined aqueducts, trimmed in neon that glows red, blue and purple.


“The Last Goodbye” whips through the story. Even with about 15 of the songs Buckley wrote (or recorded) interpolated into the original text, the show does indeed constitute about “two hours’ traffic” of stage time, including an intermission. Virtually all the machinery of the plot is kept, so the headlong pace necessarily means that Shakespeare’s text has been heavily cut. Secondary characters become almost incidental: the Nurse’s comic loquacity is gone, and Mercutio, played by Hale Appleman as a louche, androgynous troublemaker (at one point he romps around in a fluffy fake fur) doesn’t get to rhapsodize about Queen Mab.


[ . . . ]


Their flirtatious first exchange is likewise trimmed, and ends abruptly with a long, scorching kiss, as in the current Broadway “Romeo and Juliet.” In the balcony scene, the besotted lyricism of Juliet becomes a greatest-hits medley: we go from “Wherefore art thou Romeo?” to “Parting is such sweet sorrow,” while tasting too little of the sweet meat in between.


This is, of course, because Buckley’s “All Flowers in Time” becomes the primary motif establishing the sudden blooming of their love. It’s a pretty song, and in both lyric and melody suits the wonder-struck mood. (The chorus runs: “All flowers in time bend toward the sun/I know you say there’s no one for you/But here is one, here is one.”) Here and in other instances, Mr. Kimmel and Mr. Timbers have woven together Buckley’s lyrics and Shakespeare’s verse with ingenuity.


But does what is gained make up for what is lost? The emotional resonance and depth of character established by Shakespeare’s verse must be supplied by Buckley’s music, and that’s a mighty heavy burden to put on any composer. (Even Leonard Bernstein’s symphonic music for “West Side Story” didn’t have to brush up against Shakespeare.) In the less important scenes, you don’t so much mind. The riotous “Witches’ Rave” effectively establishes the tense atmosphere of incipient conflict at the Capulets’ ball, as well as the anything-goes feeling that might lead to a sudden infatuation.


But when it comes to the big moments, Buckley’s lilting melodies and his forthright lyrics don’t have the theatrical heft to capture the intensity of feeling that’s required, despite the elegant, guitar-led orchestrations by the music director Kris Kukul. The music of Green Day, in “American Idiot,” and of Duncan Sheik, in “Spring Awakening,” held the stage more naturally. Buckley’s songs too often feel like earnest but glib place holders for the greater emotional range and expressiveness of the verse.


[ . . . ]


Shakespeare and American Integration

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0498  Thursday, 31 October 2013


From:        Sharon O’Dair <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         October 30, 2013 at 3:22:43 PM EDT

Subject:    Shakespeare and American Integration


Shakespeare and American Integration: A Symposium

A part of “Through the Doors,” commemorating the 50th anniversary of the integration of the University of Alabama




FRIDAY Nov 15, 2013

Birmingham Room, Bryant Conference Center, UA campus:


1:30—2:45 pm:  Jason Demeter (George Washington University): “’The soul of a great white poet’: Shakespearean Educations in the Civil Rights Era”


3:00—4:15 pm:  Stephen Buhler (University of Nebraska): “The Duke Speaks Out: Integration and Appropriation in Such Sweet Thunder and My People”



Concert Hall at the Moody Music Building, UA School of Music, UA campus:


7:30 pm:  Delfeayo Marsalis Octet:  Sweet Thunder: Duke and Shak



SATURDAY Nov 16, 2013

Birmingham Room, Bryant Conference Center, UA campus:


9:00—10:15 am: Nigel Hatton (University of California, Merced): “’To Thine Own Self’: James Baldwin on Shakespeare and the Integration of the English Language”


10:30—11:45 am: Delfeayo Marsalis (New Orleans, LA): “Sweet Thunder: Ellington, Shakespeare, and the Blues”


Lunch Break


1:00—2:15 pm: Keith Miller and Erin McCarthy (Arizona State University):  “Othello’s Blackness after Malcolm X”


2:30—3:45 pm:  Ayanna Thompson (George Washington University): “Joseph Papp’s Color Blinding”


4:00—5:15 pm:  Joyce MacDonald (University of Kentucky): “’You’re all I need to get by’: Rehabilitating Romance in a Black Taming of the Shrew.”


Reception: 5:30—7:00  (Location to be discovered!)


Sponsored by:  The Hudson Strode Program in Renaissance Studies; The College of Arts and Sciences; The School of Music; the Department of American Studies; and New College.


All lectures and the performance are free and open to the public.


Saint Crispin’s Day

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0496  Tuesday, 29 October 2013


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

Date:         October 25, 2013 at 5:49:01 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Saint Crispin’s Day


On 25/10/2013 21:35, Hardy M. Cook wrote:


> As Ann Thompson reminded us this morning, today is Saint Crispin’s

> Day, the feast day of the Christian saints Crispin and Crispinian,

> twins who were martyred c. 286 CE.


I should point out that it is also the Feast of the Translation of St John of Beverley, to whom Henry V himself (rather than Shakespeare) credited the victory at Agincourt.


[Crispin (alone) would have appeared in Shakespeare’s copy of the Book of Common Prayer - John of Beverley did not.]


John Briggs


November 6: Ayanna Thompson

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0497  Wednesday, 30 October 2013


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

Date:         Tuesday, October 29, 2013 at 3:34 PM

Subject:     November 6: Ayanna Thompson


The Marshall Grossman Lecture Series at the University of Maryland, College Park presents:


Ayanna Thompson, George Washington University


“Othello in the 21st Century: To Perform or Not To Perform?”


November 6, 4:30pm


Tawes Hall 2115


Although as Dympna Callaghan has said, “Othello was a white man”—that is, the role was written to be performed by the white renaissance actor Richard Burbage in black make-up—the part has come to represent the pinnacle for the classically trained black actor (e.g., Ira Aldridge, Paul Robeson, Earle Hyman, Roscoe Lee Browne, Morgan Freeman, Laurence Fishburne, and more recently Chiwetel Ejiofor). Yet starting in the late 20th century, many black actors began refusing to play Othello. This talk analyzes the debates about Othello’s role in the 21st century; it addresses the complex and dynamic relationships between Shakespeare, race, and performance.




Scott A. Trudell

Assistant Professor

Department of English

3243 Tawes Hall

University of Maryland

College Park, MD 20742



Mucedorus Bate

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0495  Thursday, 25 October 2013


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

Date:         October 24, 2013 1:42:44 AM EDT

Subject:     Re: Mucedorus Bate


Bill Lloyd responded to my Mucedorus post:


> Granted, with such a small sample it’s unlikely the Mucedorus

> Additions can be pushed beyond a strong Maybe.


The touted passage (4.1) comprises 42 lines; which not so long ago would be thought insufficient for computer analysis. Now it is pushed into the canon by ‘fingerprints’ that may not be so swirl after all.


> However... Isn't it the 1598 "A" text that Kirschbaum considers

> a reconstructed [whether from memory or shorthand] text?


Correct, though 1610 (C), other than the additions, was a reprint of A (via B, 1606) and was thus (by my definition) still a bad quarto. I don’t suggest the additions were written expressly for the printed version but there is no way to judge the text they meant to revise; an authoritative Ms. is possible but the bad quarto could have been reworked.


What I do suggest is serious consideration of the method of transmission of the extant text from which all others derive. I advocate that for every playtext, yet the topic is largely ignored or passed over without a meaningful examination. I will give one example. The Observer observes,


> Bate said: “At least one of those scenes is, we think . . . full of

> his fingerprints.” It uses phrases unique to Shakespeare such

> as . . . his famous stage direction, “Exit, pursued by a bear”

> (The Winter’s Tale).


A reader may observe (or not) that Bate is ‘not exactly’ quoted here but most will take ‘Exit, pursued by a bear’ as part of the scenic evidence for Shakespeare’s authorship of 4.1, where the other phrases occur. If we recognize QA is a report—let’s say a shorthand report—then its set directions will have been made up by the reporter or a later agent (as is often borne out by suggestive, redundant dialogue). The “bear facts” are that QC’s added “1.2” ends with a set direction (describing Mouse’s collision with Mama Bear) and the next unnumbered scene immediately begins with a descriptive direction ‘Enter Segasto running, and Amadine [tumbling so fast the A is inverted] after him, / being pursued with a Beare.


The set direction for QA (the 1598 report, possibly a reprint itself) at 1.1 begins: Enter Segasto runing and Amadine after / him, being persued with abeare. Obviously, QC reprints a s.d. that has nothing whatever to do with Shakespeare. Or did a shorthand reporter write The Winter’s Tale? That may be what Vickers, Bate, and M. Egan will conclude, but most will suppose not. What this evidence really suggests is that we should look askance at all the evidence.


A shorthand report is also reconstructed from memory (in performance); the lapses help prove reporting. After reading Mucedorus I have no doubt that it is a theatrical report.


I hate to digress, but WT is also corrupt. Maybe the more famous bear chase was written up by the same stenographer. But then I think Hermione was guilty as charged.


> The title page of Q1610 – the first to contain the additions—states

> that it is “amplified with new additions as it was acted before the

> King’s majesty at Whitehall on Shrove-Sunday night, by his Highness’

> servants usually playing at the Globe.”  If I recall, this performance is

> supposed to have occurred in 1608?


Apparently Collier claimed access to a 1609 quarto, but Greg rightly questions that. Title-page blurbs may or may not be true, but we have to grant a presumption.


> Somebody wrote those additions. Of those who might possibly

> have made piece-meal additions to a King's Players' text c1608,

> WS is a priori a very likely candidate.


So were Gore and Romney. The case should be closely examined (with jaundiced eye).


> Now read the first scene between Mucedorus and his friend

> Anselmo [I.i in Tucker Brooke] and try not to think of Hamlet

> and Horatio. If it’s not Shakespeare it’s a deliberate pastiche.


The facsimiles of 1610 and 1598 are available on Google Books; the corruptions shouldn’t be overlooked. But these lines, especially if they are post-Hamlet, are decidedly inferior. Thinking of Hamlet and reading his conversations with Horatio are two different things:


Muc. Much blame were mine, if I should other deeme,

Nor can coy Fortune contrarie allow:


> And it ain’t a Shakespearean autograph manuscript

> of Loves Labours Won or Iphis and Ianthe—it’s just a

> few dozen dashed-off lines to tart up a bad [if fun] play.


“Dashed-off” is adding hypothesis, sort of back-pedaling. Maybe the play-patcher was doing his very best to sound hifalutin. And where better to go than to Hamlet, if you’re of the wiser sort?


> But the fact that the hoo-hah has been exploited doesn’t

> make for a valid counter argument.


I agree, but right now we’re still celebrating. I am looking into it. Leo’s article is available on JSTOR and on the free JSTOR website.


Gerald E. Downs


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