Shakespeare in the Park: As You Like It


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0265  Monday, 25 June 2012


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

Date:         Monday, June 25, 2012

Subject:     Shakespeare in the Park: As You Like It


[Editor’s Note: This excerpt is from Thursday’s New York Times. –Hardy]


Central Park, a Forest of Ardor

‘As You Like It,’ With Lily Rabe in Central Park


June 21, 2012

Central Park, a Forest of Ardor

By Charles Isherwood


The Public Theater celebrates 50 years of Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater this summer. By all rights the city’s theater lovers should be showering the company with bouquets, and in a sense they do, day after day, summer after summer, snapping up the free tickets to this cherished New York institution whether the clouds threaten rain or the mosquitoes swarm.


In grateful response the Public has given the city its own celebratory gift by mounting an absolutely smashing production of “As You Like It” that exemplifies the virtues of Shakespeare in the Park at its best — warmth, vigor, accessibility and lucidity — and also proves to be the funniest and most rewarding production of this rich, complicated comedy that I have yet seen.


This is not entirely an unforeseen triumph. The director, Daniel Sullivan, has established himself as perhaps the most reliably fine Shakespeare interpreter in New York. His “Twelfth Night” and “Merchant of Venice” for Shakespeare in the Park were both superb. And the luminous Lily Rabe, who rose to stage stardom as Portia opposite Al Pacino’s Shylock, returns as an enchanting Rosalind, one of Shakespeare’s most challenging and rewarding female roles.


The production is set in the 19th-century American South, the better to accommodate the wonderful bluegrass-flavored score — dominated by the jovial twang of a banjo — composed by Steve Martin. (Yes, that Steve Martin, taking a break from movie starring, novel writing and art buying.) On a lush set by John Lee Beatty that invites the surrounding foliage from Central Park to take a turn onstage, the comedy’s high spirits and its undertone of melancholy are kept in perfect balance. Mr. Sullivan also weaves together the busy welter of subplots with uncommon dexterity, resulting in a satisfying tapestry depicting love in all its wonder and surprise, its breathtaking highs and its despairing lows.


The irrational impulses that often guide human behavior are in full rein as the play begins, although the accent is on the implacable nature of ill feeling. Orlando (David Furr) is bridling under his humiliating treatment at the hands of his older brother, Oliver (Omar Metwally). In the comedy’s first hint of the heart’s fickle nature, Oliver himself cannot adequately divine the sources of his enmity. “My soul — I know not why — hates nothing more than he,” he wonderingly confesses, even as he plots to have Orlando killed.


No more sensible is the sudden twist of feeling that inspires Duke Frederick (Andre Braugher, expertly doubling as the good Duke Senior) to banish Rosalind from the court he has usurped from her father, despite the lifelong affection between Rosalind and his daughter, Celia (a tart, appealing Renee Elise Goldsberry).


[ . . . ]


Ms. Rabe’s Rosalind moves from playful to profound, from stern taskmaster to heartsick ingénue, so nimbly that the transitions continually catch you by surprise. After one of the comic tutorials in which Ganymede-as-Rosalind tries to mock Orlando out of his unyielding affection, Ms. Rabe falls to her knees in a sudden rush of feeling. In testing his love she is really plumbing the depths of her own, and what she discovers leaves her trembling with anxiety at how deeply her heart is engaged.


Mr. Furr, seen in the Roundabout’s excellent “Importance of Being Earnest” last year, is likewise a superb Shakespearean actor. His Orlando exudes an ardent confidence in the truth of his feeling that makes him a formidable foil for Ganymede’s prickly taunting and, more important, a steadfast lover for Rosalind when she finally drops the pretense at the jubilant conclusion.


Playing in counterpoint to the games between Rosalind and Orlando are three other love matches sprouting at different paces amid the Arden greenery. Oliver Platt gives the evening’s most robustly funny performance as Touchstone, the quick-tongued fool whom Rosalind and Celia have brought along to ease the hardship of their life away from court.


Scorning Orlando’s versifying — in a delicious touch he wipes his mouth with one of the poems he snatches from a tree trunk — Mr. Platt’s rumbustious wooing of the nearly speechless goatherd Audrey (an unrecognizably dirt-besmirched Donna Lynne Champlin) is a fun-house version of the talky romance between their betters.


The unrequited love of the shepherd Silvius (an affectingly forlorn Will Rogers) for the shepherdess Phoebe (Susannah Flood) shows the wayward path of Cupid’s arrows in another comic light, when a single glimpse of Ganymede leaves Phoebe ready to pen her own moony tributes to her new amour.


[ . . . ]


All this romantic romping merely inspires raised eyebrows and wry bemusement from the play’s famous cynic, Jaques, portrayed with a quiet dignity and understated melancholy by Stephen Spinella. His farewell to the happy couples united in the play’s celebratory finale is admirably free of rancor and cynicism — or, for that matter, melancholy. Mr. Spinella’s Jaques merely prefers thinking to dancing, and marches quietly off in search of more cerebral food.


[ . . . ]




The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0264  Friday, 22 June 2012


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

Date:         June 21, 2012 4:22:05 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Himself


Regarding the subject of Falstaff under the banner of HIMSELF on list, I had submitted the material that I found on this, including Peter Levi’s observation of the court record that records John Shakespeare’s name as “Johannem Shakere.” No one else beside Levi seems to have reported this, although I tried to find corroboration. However, with Peter Levi’s books featured and reviewed on two occasions in the New York Times Book Review section (about ten years ago), I concluded that he is a reputable historian. (I have in vain tried to reach him.)


In my earlier piece, I pointed out that Shakespeare’s Coat of Arms features a falcon which in falconry is known as a “saker” and is a word that can be found in our dictionaries. I noted the coincidence of the similarity of “shakere” and “saker” and thought that that could possibly be meaningful.


Since I know that “shakere” in Hebrew means “false,” (the word is a variation of usual Hebrew form, “sheker,” being the way the word is pronounced in the Hebrew Bible when it appears at the end of a sentence—it does in the Ninth Commandment, being the last words in the sentence as “eyde shakere”—literally “witness false.” This meaning seems to align with the FALS in FALStaff, amounting to another allusion to the name Shakere, although it also aligns with the FAL of FALcon, which I noted.


I pooled the above information with what I have heard about Falstaff being a stand-in for the poet himself because of the character’s great wit. I related this to John Brigg’s suggestion that William played the part of John Falstaff. Since the name John corresponds to both Falstaff and John S, I suggested that perhaps this could be an allusion to the personality of John Shakespeare. If so, it would have been a character that the poet would have relished in playing, thereby supporting Briggs’ suggestion.


The above is about the size of what I presented. It can be accepted or rejected by readers in part or whole. It can be used by others in forming their own interpretations through pooling their own command of historical facts. I would think that all shreds of information about the poet would be of interest and welcome. Who knows what others on list could make of this information?


Larry Weiss’s dissertation on my piece was interesting but seems rather irrelevant to my remarks since I put them forward on list at face value with all their raw challenges, rather than as bringing forth any definitive conclusion that needed to be shot down.


David Basch


Hidden Shakespeare


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0263  Friday, 22 June 2012


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

Date:         June 22, 2012 3:49:01 AM EDT

Subject:     Hidden Shakespeare


Hidden Shakespeare


A new biography of Shakespeare has just been published.


Nicholas Fogg, Hidden Shakespeare, published in the UK by Amberley Press.


Back in 1986 the author wrote a History of Stratford-upon-Avon, and he has published several other titles on the subject. The book reflect the extensive research he has carried out in the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s Library and Archive over the past 30 years, and is richly detailed. The author is a well-known speaker on both sides of the Atlantic. As well as the usual online resources, the book is available at the Shakespeare Bookshop in Stratford-upon-Avon.


The latest post on The Shakespeare blog is a review of the book,


Sylvia Morris


[Editor’s Note: Sylvia Morris’s review of Hidden Shakespeare in informative and useful and I encourage those interested to read it. –Hardy]




The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0262  Thursday, 21 June 2012


[Editor’s Note: There are some submissions that I receive that cause me to take three or more long cleansing breaths before I decide whether to post or not. I did so with the submission that prompted these replies. When David Basch first started peddling his “pet’ theories on SHAKSPER, I myself tried to argue with logic and facts that his major suppositions did not stand up to the received conventions of scholarly evidence. I posted his recent submission to the list, with a private warning to him that such was not a justification for renewed discussion of the theory, hoping that others might point out the problems with it. Respondents for this and any possible future posts should direct replies to the content of the post and not to wider implications.


Anecdote Warning: My younger daughter after her first year of college has decided to major in sociology and political science, not literature to my chagrin. Since I am in the process of divesting myself of many of my possessions, I went to my bookshelves in my study and picked up my copy of Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer, a book that I read at about her age and that has had a lasting influence on me. I gave it to her, describing it as a classic in sociology (well, among other things). True believers simply will not be swayed by any arguments—I could here mention American politics but that too is a topic to be avoid on SHAKSPER. –Hardy]


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

     Date:         June 20, 2012 4:48:44 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Himself 


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

     Date:         June 21, 2012 12:02:22 AM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Himself




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

Date:         June 20, 2012 4:48:44 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Himself


David Basch writes:


>Concerning the name Falstaff, I would in the end refer to the 

>surprise that Peter Levi mentioned in his book, The Life and 

>Times of William Shakespeare. He noted that in an English 

>court record of an inheritance given to John Shakespeare 

>from his father, Richard, John was referred to as 

>“Johannem Shakere.” (Levi was at a loss to explain it.) 


David, were you able to personally confirm the spelling of John’s last name in the Worcester record, as reported by Levi?



Joe Egert 



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

Date:         June 21, 2012 12:02:22 AM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Himself


David Basch is once again regaling us with his imaginative creation of fanciful links, leading him now to conclude that Sir John Falstaff was intended as a representation not of Sir John Oldcastle, as the Q text of 1HenIV expressly indicates and as is explicitly confirmed by the epilogue to 2HenIV, but of Shakespeare’s own father. His analysis depends on an assumption that WS was fluent in ancient Hebrew, for which no support is cited and that the Shakespeare coat of arms has a falcon displayed in the crest. This strikes me as not too different from Basch’s earlier attempts to persuade us that WS subtly weaved the Hebrew tetragrammaton into his texts by occasionally using the letters J, V and H.


Please, enough already!


As I tried to convey in footnote 73 to my opinion in Egan v. Elliott, obtainable in the archives: 


Where a theory is based on perceived patterns, we may . . . question whether the patterns are misconceived or even the result of malfunction of the anterior cingulate cortex of the brain. See M. Shermer, The Believing Brain (Times Books 2011) at 124-27; see, also, e.g., D.H. Mathalon, et al., Error Detection Failures in Schizophrenia, 73 Int’l J. of Psychopathology, no. 2 at 109-17 (2009); M.I. Posner & G.J. DiGirolamo, Executive Attention: Conflict, Target Detection, and Cognitive Control, in R. Parasuraman, ed., The Attentive Brain (MIT P. 1998). 


Shorthand Example (Egan, Davidson)


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0261  Thursday, 21 June 2012


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

Date:         Sunday, Jun 17, 2012 10:15 pm

Subject:     Shorthand Again


Gerald Downs offers an instance from HAMLET Q1 that he and van Dam would like us to consider as strong evidence demonstrating that that text is some kind a report assembled from a performance by stenography. But how about a different narrative: I’d have us imagine that a certain playwright had in his writer’s toolbox the rhetorical device “aposiopesis”—a sentence which for specific rhetorical purposes such as showing intense emotion or energetic interruption reads as if it is incomplete. And I’d have us imagine that he disported this device at the occasional moment when he wanted to create a heightened dramatic tension, to show that the dramatic character speaking AFTER the aposiopesis energetically cuts off or interrupts the “aposiopeseur.” (I illustrate a bunch of instances in Q1 and F LEAR in my Shakespeare’s Revision of King Lear volume.) So, in the instance cited below in a cut-and-paste from Gerald Downs’ post, I offer as a possible generative narrative that Shakespeare (himself, why not?) desired to show Laertes winding up into a spasm of oath-making, swearing “[By] My will, Not all the world [shall let my revenge].” with the “By” and the “shall let my revenge” being explained as implied, such an explanation plausibly delivered to the players of the King and Laertes roles by that same author. And then “Nay but Laertes . . . ” is the King’s energetic stopping of Laertes’ oath-making to move on to the business of assassinating Hamlet.



“One influential to my thinking was described by van Dam, yet I haven’t seen reference to it other than my own noting, here and elsewhere; the text is from Q1 Hamlet:


 Lear. O he is welcome, . . .

 king   Leartes, content your selfe, be rulde by me,

          And you shall haue no let for your reuenge.

 Lear. My will, not all the world.

 King  Nay but Leartes, marke the plot I haue layde,


Van Dam astutely observes that “Line 1790 lacks any logical connection with the context . . . . The player who acts the part of Laertes hears the last words of line 1789 “no let for your revenge”, which remind him of the first half of [Q2 4.5.137]: “King. Who shall stay you?” upon which he . . . answers . . .”



Van Dam and Downs may be right and I just blowing smoke, but we DO have many examples of such aposiopesis in Shakespeare, many of which leave ungrammatical or illogical bits where the termination of a sentence is aposiopated. (“aposiopissed”?  “aposiopossibled”? )


My point is that just because something illogical or ungrammatical appears in a text, we can’t just declare that an odd form of transmissional skullduggery is afoot ‘cause we are dealing with an author (or rather a whole community of authors) who are quite a bit more willing to cast English grammar roughly about, more willing at least than are van Dam and Downs. So the major premise, that the Q1 text evolved through transcription of an actors’ solution to an author’s mishmash just ain’t necessarily so. It could be the case, though I still send to my spam box all the Nigerian Oil Well offers that come my way. (Sorry for the disrespect here; as I’ve apologized before, I’m from the Bronx and learned to love irreverence at an early age.)


I’ll not address the tangles of Q2. Consider THAT argument interrupted until some further date, or just stopped because I also learned a long time ago that some games are not worth the candle.


Steven Urk-aposiopated-owitz

Back from his 180-mile three day Bike Trek Across Maine


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