2013 Blackfriars Conference: Liveblogging Masterlist

Wednesday, 10/23

Wake-Up Workshop #1: That’s a Certain Text
Welcome Address
Peter Holland Keynote
Plenary I (Kara Northway, Lindsey Snyder, Benjamin Curns, Darlene Farabee, Sarah Werner, Matt Kozusko)
Colloquy I: Staging Choices
Colloquy II: Methods – The Renaissance Run
Colloquy III: The Feminine in Early Modern Plays
Colloquy IV: Audience
Colloquy V: The Published Text
Staging Session I
Plenary II (Alan Armstrong, Sid Ray, Holly Pickett, Bill Gelber, Cass Morris, Peter Kanelos)

Thursday, 10/24

Wake-Up Workshop #2: If This Were Played Upon a Stage
Plenary III (Amy Rodgers, Jeremy Fiebig, Davey Morrison Dillard, Kimberly West, Heidi Cephus, Michael Wagoner)
Russ McDonald Keynote
Lunch and Learn Session: ‘The Actors are at Hand!’ Bringing the ASC to your town”
Special Presentation: “A Scholar, at the Least”
Plenary IV* (Leslie Thomson, Ian Borden, William Proctor Williams, Melissa Aaron, Evelyn Tribble, James Keegan)
Colloquy VI: Methods – Pedagogy
Colloquy VII: Rhetoric
Colloquy VIII: Adaptations
Colloquy IX: Construction of Identity
Staging Session II*
Staging Session III
Plenary V (Ann Pleiss Morris, Annalisa Castaldo, Andrew Carlson, Steven Urkowitz, Ann Jennalie Cook, Anston Bosman)

Friday, 10/25

Wake-Up Workshop #3: Sweet Smoke of Rhetoric
Plenary VI (Katharine Cleland, Brian Chalk, Jessica Schiermeister, Antonia Forster, Danielle Rosvally, Travis Curtright, Deb Streusand)
Ann Thompson Keynote
Lunch and Learn Session: The World Shakespeare Project
Plenary VII (Roslyn Knutson, Sybille Bruun, Andrew Blasenak, Hsiang-Chun Chu, Kate Moncrief, Nick Hutchison and Donald Jellerson)
Colloquy X: The Big Woo
Colloquy XI: Methods – Actingin Shakespeare: What We Teach and What We Learn
Colloquy XII: Staged and Unstaged Binaries
Colloquy XIII: History and Culture
Colloquy XIV: Playing Mad
Colloquy XV: Critical Theory
Staging Session IV
Plenary VIII (John Mucciolo, Jacque Vanhoutte, Peter Hyland, Paige Martin-Reynolds, Jeanne McCarthy, George Walton Williams, Virginia Vaughan)

Saturday, 10/26

Wake-Up Workshop #4: Asides and Audience Contact
Plenary IX (Janelle Jenstad, Christina Gutierrez, William Rampone, James Marino, Denise Walen, Don Weingust)
Abigail Rokison Keynote
Lunch and Learn Session: The Folger Digital Texts
Special Presentation: Why Der Bestrafte Brudermord might be a puppet play & The Complete Works
Plenary X (Dorothy Todd, Bob Hornback, Catherine Loomis, Celestine Woo, Lars Engle, Larry Weiss)

Sunday, 10/27

“The End of Shakespeare’s Verse?”: Part 1*, Part 2, Part 3

*All asterisked posts now include PDF downloads of handouts

The End of Shakespeare’s Verse? Part III

Three chairs are set up on stage for Giles Block, Patrick Spottiswoode, and Abigail Rokison.

Spottiswoode welcomes everyone back and alerts the audience that we are also honoring Anne Thompson whose work will be shown in a conference later in the year.

Rules for discussion, could you stand up and speak clearly and state your name and institution.

Emely Strong ASC intern: During this conference there seem to be two different standards of judging the accuracy of the text theory and practice.

Block:  I don’t see why there needs to be a conflict between those two. Clearly, there is a conflict when one feels the necessity to cut and maims the text in some way, but we all need to cut. The public won’t notice if you leave half a line standing by itself, what they do notice is if you lose the rhythm of the language. This iambic rhythm is something that binds us together because it is beating as your heart and my heart.

Rokison: I’m arguing against rules because rules bind instead of free. I would like people writing books to do historical research first.

Karoline Szatek, Curry College outside of Boston, She liked that they gave the actors in the last session someone to work off, when the actors would talk to the graduate students in the upstairs would close in the space and open up his thoughts.

Block: When someone begins a speech they don’t know how they’re going to end it.

James Keegan University of Delaware and from the ASC: I enjoy your books because they have a profound humility. Rules about verse can do damage because they are used as a stick. We have to be conscious of the text and its origin. One of the trickiest things for me as an actor (in Marlow and early Shakespeare) is the regularity of the line, and having to fight the regularity of the line.  I think Shakespeare wants us to pay attention to the line. I think in Shakespeare’s career we move from a declaratory style to more intimate style.

Jim Casey High Point University: I noticed that when the actors started talking to (the not there in reality) Lady Macbeth their stresses changed.

Block: I certainly feel that it is not all iambic but there are a lot of trochaic beats. I go trochee hunting. There are a lot of lines where you can make a choice. Which is more easy?

Casey: I thought the reading was better when they changed the stress and made it less like something that could become monotonous.

Block: One thing I feel is that in those fifty line speeches you want to be dividing them in to different thought units, each though unit has its different color. Finding how one though morphs into or prompts another.

Keegan: In Shakespeare’s Metrical Art he does that. You build, and then you come down again, it is an interesting coming together of the formalist and method versions

Block: When Tamburlaine first played I imagine that people were amazed at how he just kept building.

Rokison: I try to get students to try and scan the passages. and I don’t tell them which words are trochees and iambic because they have to find it for themselves. Don’t imagine that every metrical irregularity is doing something because that’s another rule.  William Proctor Williams was saying that he was editing Haywood’s plays at the moment. At the begining of his career he didn’t use any shared lines and then as his career when on he used more and more.

Lawyer in the audience says only bad thing is that Shakespeare’s plays don’t leave much for copywrite litigation.  A professor he knew got very excited about Rokison’s book and her ideas on rules and line endings.

Rokison: I think some of those line endings might be rather useful, but I have never played Macbeth so I don’t know, but I think pausing after a line ending can be useful, but it is about exploration. Whatever happens with these line endings if you do take a suspension at the end of the line it does throw emphases to the front of the line.

Don Wiest, Utah University: Thank you for your healthy skepticism of rules. I noted your preference to begin with folio punctuation.

Block: I go to it because it is lighter than most modern punctuation and it encourages flow. I think it might because to the way Shakespeare writes. If Hand D was Shakespeare and in the midst of un-punctuated flow there are two commas and then in another speech there are many commas as if to indicate someone who is really distraught.

Michael Henry a classicist from Staunton: With Euripides you can date the plays without the external dates because of the way the meter works. Can you do that here, is it linear?

Rokison: With Haywood there was an increase in the use of shared lines, but not in lines that were just sort.  I’d love to do more looking at Shakes contemporaries.

Peter Holland: When I was relineating Coriolanus there were many places where someone relineated the lines because compositor could not stand to have “And” at the end of a line, but that is part of what makes Shakespeare great. This morning with the actors I kept hearing different internal rhythms in their speeches.  I think these rhythms matter.  Shakespeare wants us to notice.

Block: I agree with what you are saying. I love the stuff we can’t give voice to. There are lots of words that are repeated in those speeches.  It is all very subjective.

Holland: I think I want the actors to find more of the complexities rather than fewer.

Rokison: Perhaps we should go back to giving rhetoric classes.

Dr. Ralph Cohen of the ASC and Mary Baldwin College Shakespeare and Performance program: What we are more and more interested all the time here is studying prose, and remember that these people knew a hundred to a hundred and twenty figures of speech.  It offers the actor a way to hear what Peter is hearing. It isn’t at odds with it.

Dr. Matthew Davies of Mary Baldwin College Shakespeare and Performance program: I would add the rhetoric of sound is very important, scan and don’t stop there, note the sounds, the repetitions.

Rokison: I have my students take away the consonants and just use the vowels. I think the danger in this business is with inexperienced actors and you point out a figure of rhetoric and then that is all that gets stresses.

Virginia Vaughan, Clark University: I was interested in Block’s back-story about Lord and Lady Macbeth and I think it is interesting to find out the physiology behind the story.

Block: In Hamlet there is the back story of what went wrong with Old Hamlet and Gertrude, and in Lear, why does he love Cordelia best? I sometimes think Macbeth is like Hitchcock; just when you think everything is alright you hear an owl screech.

Stephanie Howieson, Rouge Shakespeare/Mary Baldwin MFA: Just because Lady Macbeth says he swore about something he could have said “no I didn’t,” so there may not be that story before the story.

Block: I think in a play that you have to take everything as literally as you can, Shakespeare takes us to extremes in small ways or in big ways, like how many times words like “all” or “never” appear as the first word in a line. There is no wastage in Macbeth. I think she says “you swore to me” and I think he knows he has.

Frances Cooper, independent scholar: What about long lines?

Rokison: A few. Sometimes they are what Peter Holland just said, it is hyper long because a compositor changed them, or pronunciation changed, or mistakes were made and a crossed out words got in, but there are some really long lines. Like in  Richard II you go from regular rhymed lines and then finished with a hyper … Bolingbrook cuts the whole thing off with a hyper metrical line.

Block: I think frequently longer lines happened in the latter plays. Just feel where the five stresses are even in long lines, in the actual speaking of it the extras don’t count.

Joe Stevenson: There are people out there who will almost refuse to speak the verse I feel that I have an answer to this. Macbeth: They have tied me to the stake I cannot fly.” Many people say “they have” but if you scan it should be “they’ve.”

Block: I think verse is speech, that’s all.

Stevenson: the “ion” ending, “They say the lark makes sweet div-is-ion,” do we add the extra syllable ?

Rokison I think an actor should hear it but not say it.

Iska Alter, independent scholar: You were talking to the actors about repetition of the “S” sound in listening to the speech there are different types of “S” sound. Is there a way to make a distinction? Because they register quite differently.

David Landon, Sewanee: The University of the South: I worked with Marion Richland, she always said the verse is like the trellis, and the speech is the vine going through the trellis, and every now and then there’s a flower.

Rokison I use a musical bars metaphor to explain that not every musical bar has quavers and crotches… do you call them that here? No?

Block: I think nine times out of ten people say the line and they get it right, and that’s because Shakespeare wrote it right.

Spottiswoode: Perhaps we should have a moment of silence for the people who brought verse to us.  Thank you for all of you for contributing and thanks to Giles and Abigail for helping us to look with our ears.

The End of Shakespeare’s Verse?: Blackfriars Playhouse, Sunday 10/27/2013 Blackfriars Conference

Good morning everyone –

This is Molly Zeigler, I’m live-blogging this morning the first hour of the final presentation of the 2013 Blackfriars Conference.

Today’s presentation is “The End of Shakespeare’s Verse” at the Blackfriars Playhouse on Sunday 10/27/2013.  The presentation is being introduced by Patrick Spottiswoode, Director of Education for Shakespeare’s Globe with presenters: Abigail Rokison and Giles Block.

Participating Actors: Ben Curns, Allison Glenzer, John Harrell, and Rene Thornton, Jr.

Patrick Spottiswoode took the stage to introduce the symposium and today’s presenters.  Today’s symposium is part 3 of 5 of the program “The End of Shakespeare’s Verse” being presented in cooperation by the American Shakespeare Center and Shakespeare’s Globe (and co-sponsored by the University of Birmingham’s Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon).

The idea of the presentation is to explore verse and its role in performance and Shakespearean studies.  This symposium is not intended to present a unified front, but rather it is intended to explore a variety of angles regarding this topic.

When, for two examples, script writer Julian Fellowes says he had to cut the verse in Romeo and Juliet to accommodate modern audiences and when major theatrical enterprises spend time organizing  prose editions of the plays – the role of verse needs to be addressed.

Abigail Rokison presented first.  She is exploring some contemporary and popular assertions regarding particular approaches to verse.  These attitudes, approaches, and assertions are expressed  in the  work of Cicely Berry, Patsy Rodenburg, Peter Hall, and John Barton (to name a few). Such assertions can be traced to the work of, among others, William Poel.  Poel’s attempts to incorporate Early Modern theatrical and textual elements into active artistic expression have influenced enterprises for decades.

Poel’s work has been taken and expanded upon by the contemporary scholars and practitioners mentioned.  However, it is not easy to draw direct correlations between Poel and modern efforts.

Shared lines, short lines, ambiguous presentation, and punctuation are of concern.  Furthermore, the canon can be divided in time periods which helps locate trends and issues.

 Shared lines are seen in three major configurations:

1) Linking short lines

2) Linking a shorter and longer line

3) Linking two longer lines

With shared lines we can see a variety of performative options.

In Macbeth there is a considerate number of shared lines.  It is with these shared lines that a sense of heightened emotions and shared intensity can be seen,

Short unconnected verse lines are prominent in the middle tragedies.

In the later (post 1600) works, the number of scenes ending in short lines increases.  To end a scene with a short verse line, rather than with a rhymed couplet, provides a sense of speed, urgency, and suddenness.  It is often seen that the final short line follows a  rhymed couplet, perhaps offering a demand to continue or move on after the satisfying couplet.

Shared lines: There is a marked increase in the number of shared lines in later plays such as The Winter’s Tale.

Of course, there are elements of subjectivity here, and considerations (regarding pauses and actions) depend on theatrical intent, purpose, and choices.  There is no hard and fast rule, but the breaks in lines and the use of shorter and shared lines is a physical fact within the text and should be given attention.  Pauses and breaks and the manipulation of lines are representative of rhetorical structures such as aposiopesis (Greek for’becoming silent’).  Aposiopesis is the deliberate breaking off of a sentence and leaving it unfinished.  The ending of the sentence, of the thought, is meant to be supplied by the imagination.  Aposiopesis can give an impression of unwillingness or of the inability of a character to continue.

Lineation & Punctuation:  There are a number of theories about the role of lineation and punctuation in the deliverance of verse lines.

Peter Hall (and others) insists that each distinct line of verse is a single entity and breath comes only at the end of the line.

In contrast, the likes of Berry, Rodenburg and Donnellan suggest that the meaning take precedence over the line structure and that an actor should follow punctuation in relation to breath (but, whose punctuation?).

Stops in punctuation traditionally include the comma, the colon, and the period with the related pause increasing with each stop.

To avoid ambiguity different delivery methods can be explored.

Rokison suggests that a strict adherence to any one method of delivery is reductive.

It is necessary to explore the role of verse in performance.  These works were constructed purposefully, after all.

Abigail Rokison and the actors presented moments from the canon, primarily from MacbethGlobe symposium – Macbeth – handout

The presentation today is set to continue with Giles Block.

——————–

It has been my pleasure to blog portions of this wonderful conference,  I hope one and all have enjoyed these last few days as much as I have.  It has been a truly wonderful experience.

Blackfriars Conference 2013–Special Panel

Hello everyone! Sarah Martin here to liveblog Saturday afternoon’s Special Panel in the Blackfriars Playhouse. Today, we will hear two presentations: Tiffany Stern from the University of Oxford’s Why Der Berstraffe Brudermord Might Be a Puppet Play (you can see Der Berstraffe Brudermord performed as a puppet play courtesy of Beth Burns and the Hidden Room theatre this evening at 9:30pm in the Blackfriars Playhouse) and The Complete Works presented by Paul Menzer from Mary Baldwin College, Jeremy Lopez from the University of Toronto, Andrea Stevens from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Genevieve Love from Colorado College.

Tiffany Stern, Oxford University

Why Der Berstraffe Brudermord Might be a Puppet Play

Stern begins her presentation with a brief explanation of Der Berstraffe Brudermord saying that it is an “eighteenth-century play of extraordinary awfulness”. She says that Der Berstraffe Brudermord is probably not a puppet play, but that this possibility is certainly there. Stern’s interest  in the play began with research about puppet plays and the discovery of a puppet Hamlet. She explains that the text of the Der Berstraffe Brudermord is very close to the Quarto 1 Hamlet.  This informs us that Q1 Hamlet must have been circulating in Germany at some point before Der Berstraffe Brudermord was written. Stern notes that the first mention of the possible puppet Hamlet was in 1779. She explains that Germany experienced a period of fascination with Shakespeare’s works during the eighteenth century. She gives a brief history of English players in Germany. She explains that the same English players also performed in the Czech Rebublic. A Czech account of the English players’ performances states that the actors, “alternately performed an actors’ and a marionette repertoire”. Stern gives an example of an Italian puppet Hamlet called Amleto from the 1660s that informs us that Shakespeare’s plays were circulating on the continent before the plays were available in good translations.

As evidence for why Der Berstraffe Brudermord might be a puppet play, Stern notes that the Prologue requires four women, but the play only has two women characters. When the character of NIGHT enters, she does so in “flying machinery”–much easier for a puppet to accomplish rather than a person, obviously. The play also includes a lot of violent moments that occur from behind. All action in puppet shows takes place from behind and this contributes to why Der Berstraffe Brudermord might be a puppet play. Stern notes that Der Berstraffe Brudermord has several moments of fireworks–another hallmark of puppet shows. She points to the “Closet Scene” moment when the Hamlet character sees the ghost of his father and fireworks go off. Including fireworks at this moments seems odd and contributes to the “absurdity” one expects in puppet shows.

Sterns contacted Beth Burns about the possibility of the puppet show performance and Burns jumped on the idea. Stern says that she was nervous about the actual performance, and said “what if I’m wrong, oh but what if I’m not” and that led to tonight’s production.

Paul Menzer, Mary Baldwin College; Jeremy Lopez, University of Toronto; Andrea Stevens, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; and Genevieve Love, Colorado College

The Complete Works

Paul Menzer begins his presentation by having the Mary Baldwin College MFA students pass out sheets of paper that contains lists of words all beginning with the same two letters (I have “ex” words). He then asks the audience to read aloud all of the many words on their pages as he does the same. As the reading comes to a close, Menzer notes that the ASC will produce Timon of Athens this Spring and will at that point, have performed all of Shakespeare’s words. He then points out that we have done just that in a matter of a few minutes. The papers contained all of the words found in Shakespeare’s works. Menzer points out that our performance, in claiming to have performed The Complete Works of Shakespeare, represents a “scaling fallacy”. He notes that the “Complete Works” idea has the problem of scale. He explains that Shakespeare’s Complete Works is large in comparison to Marlowe, but not compared to that of Thomas Heywood.  Menzer then goes on to note that “Shakespeare’s Complete Works is not bigger than Marlowe’s, there’s just more of it”. He points out the problematic idea of “Complete Works” is that it implies a finishing point. He explains that scale is a measure not just of size, but of form as the agent doing the measuring is part of it. We, as those agents, contribute to Shakespeare’s Complete Works–and contribute to what that term means exactly.

Jeremy Lopez begins by telling the audience that the word “disappointed” occurs only once in all of Shakespeare’s works. Lopez gives several examples of word counts throughout works of great literature. Lopez argues of such “word counting” exercises are only applied to iconic authors and plays. He argues that we only decide to look for the instances of the word “blood” in Macbeth, for example, because we already know the play. Giving examples of several such instances of repeated words in plays that do not really have anything to do with those words, Lopez argues that repetition does not equal emphasis or meaning. He notes that though his paper, “is about disappointment, the word “disappointed” appears only once.”

Andrea Stevens begins her presentation with an explanation of the use of the term “invulnerable” in Shakespeare’s plays. She explains that it is the “vulnerable” bodies that are the victims of violence. Quoting Judith Butler, Stevens notes that our bodies are never exclusively our own. Our bodies also always have political value. She argues that Shakespeare’s tragedies are explorations of how characters discover that they are, in fact, vulnerable and that their bodies are not their own.

Genevieve Love begins with a discussion of the “vulnerable”. She talks about how characters with missing limbs and other physical disabilities give important bibliographical and textual history as well. Prosthetic bodies, Love argues, represent the incomplete articulation of the plays themselves. She points to Dr. Faustus–a play with both “A” and “B” texts as an example of how the disability of the body also represents the disability and deformity of corrupt texts. She argues that the dismemberment and multiplication of one, whole body into diverse incomplete parts is a reflection of the corruption and mutilation of early modern texts.

Colloquy XII: Staged and Unstaged Binaries/Evil

Ashley Pierce here (again, again) blogging the 12th colloquy “Staged and Unstaged Binaries/Evil.” Chaired by JIm Casey with presenters Brittany Ginder, Joanna Grossman, Gabriel Rieger, and Danielle Sanfilippo. This session takes place Friday October 25th from 2:30 to 3:45 PM in conjunction with the 2013 Blackfriars Conference. In lue of describing their papers, the presenters will be discussing their various topics. Though I will provide a brief description and titles of the papers, via an abstract provided at the colloquy.

Violence and the Body: The Obscene and the Ob-scene by Jim Casey “In Lynda Nead’s distinction between art and obscenity, “Art is being defined in terms of the containing, of form within limits; obscenity, on the other hand, is defined in terms of excess, as form beyond limit, beyond the frame of representation.” In this paper, I explore the ideas of containment and excess in scenes of early modern violence. For example, Lavinia’s rape in Titus Andronicus seems to have been something the early moderns would have considered obscene. Consequently, it occurs ob-scene. Other moments of excessive violence in the play, however–Titus’ mutilation, Mutius’ murder, for example–remain in full view. I am interested in exploring the boundaries of acceptable violence to better understand the sociocultural expectations of gendered bodies.”

Tongues in Richard II by Joanna Grossman “The myriad instances of grotesque mutilation in Elizabethan revenge plays have long captivated audiences and readers alike. Frequently, the disfigured body part depicted on stage is a severed tongue, with Lavinia in Titus Andronicus being perhaps the most famous example. But although the image of Lavinia’s horrible defacement proves difficult to expunge from one’s memory, this paper argues that Richard II is in fact the Shakespearean play that most thoroughly and imaginatively explores the organ’s potential dramatic functions. In “Sins of the Tongue”, Carla Mazzio considers early modern portrayals of tongues and concludes that this period witnessed a paradoxical construction of the organ as a simultaneously moral and immoral–but, most importantly, autonomous–actor. Surprisingly, for all the wealth of examples that Mazzio draws upon, she makes no mention of Richard II, which contains more references to tongues than any other Shakespearean work. Although the presence of tongues is undeniable, the playwright’s application of the motif in this history play is subtle, especially when compared to revenge dramas. For this reason, the subject of tongues has been unwittingly pushed to the background in favor of discussions on the pervasive religious symbolism or the use of the sun, water, and countless other emblems throughout the discourse. This paper examines what has been an undeservedly overlooked aspect of the first installment in Shakespeare’s second tetralogy. I hope to show that the play’s religious undertones are best understood in relation to Shakespeare’s frequent use of tongues and that Richard II posits an inverse relationship between this particular organ’s autonomy and the welfare of the state, namely because the unbridled tongue constitutes an impediment to effective leadership.”

“Made of the Selfsame Metal”: Regan as King Lear‘s Soldier/Daughter by Brittany Proudfoot-Ginder

“King Lear’s daughters have long been placed within the Manichean binary of ‘good’ and ‘evil.’ The innocent Cordelia is the embodiment of feminine nature and the bringer of all things ‘good’ whereas Goneril and Regan are categorized as ‘evil,’ jealous, and manipulative monsters. This binary scheme, like most, is flawed. Cordelia is rarely dissected past the cliched image of Christ, and the judgments made in regard to the elder Lear sisters are grossly out of proportion with their supposed injustices. While a larger study on Regan’s place on the stage and in the Lear family is the topic of the thesis I am currently writing, I will be focusing in this particular essay on how this middle daughter breaks not only the binary scheme of ‘good’ and ‘evil,’ but also the binary of acceptable ways for men and women to commit acts of violence on the Renaissance stage.”

“The Whirligig of Time”: Twelfth Night and the Politics of Revenge by Gabriel A. Rigger

“One of the most compelling questions in Shakespeare’s canon occurs in the final scene of Twelfth Night, in which the steward Malvolio, having vowed to “be revenged on the whole pack” of the court of Illyria, leaves the stage with an unsettled lawsuit against the sea captain who has delievered. Theatre historian Ralph Berry observes that “[a] modern production of Twelfth Night is obliged to redefine comedy, knowing always that its ultimate event is the destruction of a notably charmless bureaucrat.” The comedy of destruction can sit uneasily with a contemporary audience.
Much of that comedy hinges upon the revenge plot enacted upon Malvolio by his rival Feste tat jester and Feste’s cohorts in the court of the Countess, and indeed the notion of repayment, of “quiting,” runs throughout. Cesario quites Olivia’s disregard for Orsino, while Olivia’s love for Cesario, like Orsino’s love for Olivia is unrequited. Throughout the comedy we witness “the whirligig of time bring[ing] in his revenges,” and indeed its climactic scene hinges upon the vengeance played between Feste and Malvolio, the two rivals at the court of Illyria who split the play between them. Ostensibly, the two characters represent oppositional modes of social experience, but a closer analysis reveals that for all of their superficial opposition, the two characters have much in common and, I will argue, serve a similar dramatic function in the universe of Twelfth Night, providing examples of fundamental, disordered melancholy in contrast to the performative melancholy of the aristocracy.”

Dimensions of Shylock Beyond “Hath Not a Jew Eye?” by Danielle Sanfilippo

“Readers of The Merchant of Venice speech are likely to point to Shylock’s much-quoted “Hath not a Jew eyes” speech as the most crucial moment of Act 3, Scene 1. After all, it is in this speech that Shylock gives his reasons for his dramatic revenge. However, just a few lines later, Shylock’s fellow Jew Tubal enters, providing an even richer, if often overlooked, layer to the scene. RSC direcing legend John Barton astutely notes that this part of the scene is very dependnt on the actor playing Tubal. As is common in Shakespeare, there are no stage directions indicating how the actor should play the part. Yet this minor character can help provide important perspectives on Shylock as well as a larger picture of the Jewish community.
The weight of the scene depends on the abrupt (and often comic) mood shifts that Tubal wrings out of Shylock. Mentions of Jessica’s spendthrift habits plunge him into despair while news of Antonio’s debt fills him with glee. Tubal is also present for the emotional moment when Shylock realizes that Jessica has given away her mother’s ring. Far from being a toady, Tubal is a wealthy independent character whose presence highlights Shylock’s emotions and helps him come to the ultimate decision to seek revenge. Most crucially, Tubal gives a perspective on Shylock that is not seen elsewhere in the play; that of a peer in the Jewish community. Tubal’s lines are largely neutral, a frequent Shakespearean technique. The actor must choose Tubal’s reaction. Does he agree with Shylock’s perverse plan or is he somewhat disapproving? In demonstrating the immense importance of this character to the revenge plot of The Merchant of Venice, I would like to have two actors help me with contrasting readings of Tubal’s lines.”

Plenary Session VIII – Blackfriars Conference 2013

Good Evening from the Blackfriars!  This is Clare with the 8th paper session of the Conference!

Paper Session VIII
Moderator: Rene Thornton Jr.

John Mucciolo:  The Opening Storm Scene of Shakespeare’s The Tempest and its European Pictorial Milieu
Jacque Vanhoutte: A Lazar-like Ghost?
Peter Hyland: Scare bears: Mucedorus and The Winter’s Tale
Paige Martin-Reynolds:  “Anatomiz[ing] Regan”: Performing Parts in King Lear
Jeanne McCarthy: John Lyly’s Spectacural Plays for the Children of Paul’s
George Walton Williams: Retreat and Flourish: Backwards and Forwards on Shakespeare’s Stage
Virginia Vaughan: “Storm still”: Staging 3.2-3.4 of King Lear

Mucciolo:
It appears in The Tempest that the actors easily presented the ship on the Early Modern stage. The question then becomes, how did they present the ship? Ships from the period include the grand vision of the “Prince Royal” 1613.  There are many beautiful images of ships in storms or in sea scapes from the time period which Mucciolo presented in a slide-show and suggested that these paintings were common.  Pictures of ships had two common visual modes.  The first is that of fore-grounding in which the painter places the boat in the foreground.  The second is that of a ship at a distance in panorama. The Tempest views the ship from each of these two perspectives.  The first lines (1-4) begin with the foregrounded idea of the ship. In 1.2 the ship is described with a panoramic view by Miranda. The 2013 production at the globe presents the actors in the foreground carrying a ship which looks like a panoramic view. Mucciolo urges we examine the way that we present this idea with a self-conscious decision about these two.

Vanhoutte:
In Medieval culture, leprosy was a spiritual and physical disfigurement. Theater is also connected in some ways to leprosy and the idea that you can present one thing while being another.  Melancholy, introversion, impersonation, etc. “something is rotten in the state of Denmark” are all indications of leprosy presented in Hamlet. The descriptions surrounding the ghost (a rotting individual) sound similar to leprosy. Early Moderns also suppose the insatiable need for sex to indicate leprosy.  Claudius shows many transgression marks and characteristics of leprosy, but no physical symptoms. He himself uses “foul,” “rank,” and other ideas of rottenness and sin (which Early Moderns thought of as closely related to leprosy). Claudius does not show any of the physical signs of leprosy.  Claudius’s offense makes his soul black, but his body remains whole, making it difficult for Hamlet to know for certain if he has sinned. The ghost is not a leper, but Lazar-like, an emblem of the ancient diseases. The doubling of the ghost and Claudius allows the conversion of the conversion from simile to metaphor in and the appearance of leprosy.  The actor playing the ghost may even have painted the marks of leprosy which Shakespeare indicates in the description of the ghost’s skin.  Shakespeare may be indicating that the accidents of leprosy stand for the fading assumptions that looking sick indicates being sick at heart.

Hyland:
The most famous stage direction in Shakespeare is from the 1613 folio text “exit pursued by a bear” however, this comes from the 1598 Mucedorus play which was revived in 1610 in which a polar bear chases characters on the stage. The common theory is that theater practitioners used real bears in performances.  Mucedorus was the most popular play in its period with 17 quarto editions.  The bear in Mucedorus dies, and a man disguised as a shepherd carries in the bear’s head.  Later, another character stumbles upon the bear.  The question then arises whether there really was a real bear.  Bears were available in the time period as dancing bears and bear bating were common forms of entertainment.  A problem arises, however, in training a bear to follow stage directions. A real bear would most likely have caused unwarranted anxiety in the audience  at a point in the play which does not call for such a reaction.  In Mucedorus, a character defends himself saying that it must have been a person disguised as a bear.  Using a person in a bear’s disguise negates the dangers of using a real bear and the necessity of using a real bear. The staging of the bear is crucially significant to establish the tone of the rest of the play for both Mucedorus and The Winter’s Tale.

Martin-Reynolds:
Audiences have a fascination with the dead body on stage.  Plays show a particular fascination with examining the female corpse, both from interest of the text itself and from other characters. Lear and the audience often anatomize Regan as wicked.  Lear suggests that attendants cuter her open and examine her evil anatomy after she dies.  Early Moderns also pulled criminals to theaters of anatomy in which people watched dissections.  Regan often uses the royal “we” and identifies herself with power.  She is a sophisticated reader of her own circumstances. Her father threatens her according to his moods, and threatens to the honor her mother if she does not show constant love and affection to him. All the daughters in King Lear must realize that loyalty and love have limits. Martin-Reynolds states that audiences often place Lear as the morally correct individual, and that it is the fault of the daughters that drive him to madness rather than him driving himself mad. At the end of the play, the girls become faceless bodies laid out on stage and ready to be anatomized.  Lear’s fantasy of Regan’s atomization leads back to the beginning of the play in which he wants lists of her love.  Martin-Reynolds asserts that the audience is not responsible for what happens to the girls, but it is responsible for siding with Lear when his transgression begins the play.

McCarthy:
John Lyly writes highly literary drama as well as many spectacle events in his plays written for children players. Lyly changes the relationships of characters and identifiers. For example, some have different family from their classical sources, or different professions. Lyly invites audiences into the interpretive and philosophic act of the plays. These plays present philosophical debates and literary images. Lyly’s use of properties draw on traditional symbols and questions the idea of signifiers and symbols.  He also places a literary abuse of logic in his plays (reliance on traditional symbols, rather than logic for conclusions).  The privileging of the meaning of traditional symbols over logic can also lead to a discussion of grammar. The plays emphasize a detached artifice.  The actors’ use of emotion also plays into the idea of what is presented as a signifier. The question of whether the children were having fun pretending, or seeking to imitate other acting they had seen is often left out of this discussion. The plays should present an interior state rather than an exterior show. The props also should signify something deeper than what they represent. Lyly’s Blackfriars plays are similar to court masques. The achievement of John Lyly is his promotion of a thoroughly literary drama.

Walton Williams:
Trumpets often symbolize movement backwards, forwards, and retreats on the Blackfriars.  Specific trumpet flourishes accompany each of these movements.  There is little or no written music which survives for trumpet accompanied stage directions. Sometimes words will imitate sounds of the percussive trumpet style.  The sounds of retreat often indicate the end of a war, and can lead into the new sound of a flourish for coronation.  There are some scenes in Shakespeare which do not indicate a scene change between the end of a battle and the beginning of the coronation, but there is a flourish. The trumpets could indicate the change of scene, and the dead bodies could then remove themselves rather than building a change of scene into the written text.  These transitions often occur at the same point in the play and the stage directions simply read “retreat” and on the next line read “flourish.” Even though the location of the action does not change, the characters enter into a new fictional location of action for the play. Victors can also enter at the sound of a flourish into a discussion of the battle by other characters. This is a transition on stage which indicates the clear ending of one scene and the beginning of another. Other plays have a moment of success which is followed by “flourish,” and then“alarum” and “retreat” there is no other indication of change of locus. Some editors indicate that there is a change of place, however, and some question the placement of these stage directions.  Walton Williams has not found an explanation for these reversals which he finds satisfactory to himself, but he does find that the phenomenon indicates the end of one scene and the beginning of another.

Vaughan:
In King Lear, Shakespeare revolutionized the representation of the tempest on stage.  The storm in King Lear runs for 22 minutes, over multiple scenes (approx 340 lines). Multiple scenes open with the indication “storm still.” The question then arises whether the storm is stilled for a time, whether the direction indicates the continuation of the storm.  Vaughan proposes that the storm is continuous, this requires wind machines and other storm affects.  The characters themselves indicate a continued storm. The characters often describe the storm, and must also be heard over the sound effects. Twenty minutes is a long time for a storm.  Previous to this direction, thunder and lightning indicated the gods being angry, a severe emotional disturbance, or a foreshadowing of something bad about to happen. Lear is raging, emotionally upset, and the patriarchal structure is falling apart.  The play shows a disruptive social order. The audience does not hear about the tempest in the abstract, but hears the storm itself.  The storm does not just act as a chorus, because there is no single meaning that the audience can take from the storm. This play does not have the gods “pulling the strings” but humans enacting with each other, and no divine body intervening to restore order.

Colloquy XIV (Playing Mad)- Blackfriars Conference 2013

Hello Everyone!

Colloquy XIV: Playing Mad
Hello Everyone, my name is Clare and I will be blogging for 2013 Blackfriars Conference Colloquy XIV. This colloquy is presided by Symmonie Preston  and the presenters are Nicholas Helms, Lauren Shepherd, Christina Squitieri, and Meredith Will.

Preston: This colloquy will allow the speakers to speak a little longer and should have more time for a Question and Answer.  Each will present a paper.

Helms: Keys to the Mind, Madness and Spectating Shakespeare’s Characters

Helms looks at applying the philosophy of mind and theories about mind reading to character studies.  Mind reading refers to the ability to arrive at logical conclusions about a person based upon his behavior. There is theory, theory of mind reading, and simulation theory of mind reading.  Theory, theory applies the theories behind what could trigger a person’s reaction.  Helms will be referring to theory, theory as inference.  Simulation theory is to try to “walk through another person’s shoes.” Simulation theory also applies to sympathetic emotions. The two different theories have often struggled for dominance, but they should blend.  Madness is the inability to communicate, and audience members/readers often erroneously apply it to characters such as Toby Belch for saying things that are out of context.  The Jailer’s Daughter is the most extensive presentation of madness in Shakespeare.  The doctor uses lots of inference and never speaks the daughter until the end of his last scene with her.  The simulation theory and imaginative study better describes her breaking point. The imaginative approach invites the audience to participate in the emotions of the character.  She is emotionally compelling in the beginning, weaving a narrative of her present mental state and her fears of the forest, she even states she would rather die than go mad and lose the ability to perceive reality. No one tries to communicate with the daughter, but the doctor proposes that there is a middle ground in which the other characters communicate with her on the level of her delusions.  It does not show a full level of mind reading, but it grants credibility in her delusions so that she can feel a part of the community again, and hopefully be brought back into the community.  Early moderns considered madness to be a temporary distraction from the norm, and from reality. Some of the ideas for the daughter’s madness may come from the collaborative process with Fletcher.  Scenes like this also appear in King Lear with Gloucester and Edgar (who plays into the fantasy of Gloucester’s depression to pull him out of the depression), As You Like It (her cure for love as a cure for madness).  Helms hopes to look further into these ideas in his continued research.

Shepherd: Diagnosing Madness on Stage: A Perspective on Madness in Fletcher, Middleton and Rowley, Shakespeare, and Webster.
For Elizabethans, there are different views of madness. Madness and distraction are not as interchangeable as most scholars think they are and the two together are what moderns accept and receive as the mad character in Shakespeare.  Specific expectations and events lead to a diagnosis, and the means to a cure. Shepherd looked at The Changeling, The White Devil, The Duchess of Malfi, Two Noble Kinsmen, and Macbeth. Madness is indicated by  the direct act of relating to the character as other, the speech patterns the character employs, and the set of questions which characters ask themselves or  which other charactes report about them. Madness often starts with the idea that a character is “not himself.” Antonio (Changeling) begins to mimic the teacher at the asylum.  It appears through his rhetoric and wit that he knows how to play mad.  Gratiano enters mad and distracted and his actions should appear so.  He has disjointed language, but has a common theme, so it is not madness, but can be perceived as such.  There is an outside influence which affects our vision of his “madness.” Another character displays a number of different symptoms of madness and is diagnosed as such.  It appears that the actors may be using madness to resolve their situation.  The madness of the women is different.  Cornelia recalls bloody hands; many women refer to the bloody hands, flowers and herbs, a night owl screech, and describe the outside with urgency.  No one diagnoses Cornelia.  Playwrights often subscribe madness of women as specifically feminine and offer female madwomen a wider emotional range to play. The community of others isolated mad women.  Playwrights often shaped the mad women like a chorus member with a different agency in the play.  Many mad women also sing and have similar speech patterns.  Women also often engage in a pathetic language of madness, and employ language concerning the body.  Some scholars see the turn towards bodily language as a prelude to death, but this is not consistent in Early Modern women. Confession or sexual intercourse were common cures to temporary madness, but death was the only cure for a complete mental illness.  Shepherd is also interested in how people talk about a mad character after he has died.

Squitieri: Catching Passion: Hamlet in the Contagion of Theatrical Madness
The four humors and bodily spirits are synonymous with disease and madness in the Early Modern period. Some spectators condemned players for infecting the audience with a theatrical pattern. Some scholars connect the audience and actors in a moral act by which the two groups undergo a transformation. By entering the playhouse and partaking the play, an audience becomes morally responsible for the way in which the actor can transform him.  In Hamlet, the audience can therefore be responsible for driving Ophelia mad.  The question also rises whether or not Hamlet becomes mad, or if he merely plays mad, and at what point he may become mad.  Hamlet begins by simply acting madness.  The vision of Hamlet’s madness begins with a performances for Ophelia.  He transforms her.  She relates the vision and uses the word “thus” which infers that she is not just remembering, but repeating the physicality of the madness for Polonius. Hamlet’s transference of madness to Ophelia can also come from the physical contact when he grasps her in the vision she reports. Early Moderns also considered physical contact and eye contact as a means of transference (especially eye contact as transference of souls between lovers). The physical act of the play can also encourage the madness, and the “get thee to a nunnery” speech presents madness to her. Ophelia demonstrates a knowledge of the contagion of madness, after these confrontations, she begins to use the same types of epizeuxis which Hamlet uses to portray madness. She also speaks of having “sucked the music of his honey vows” which can also carry disease.  Early Moderns believed breast milk was blood which the breasts transformed into milk, and that as such, breast milk could transfer diseases to children. Hamlet’s performed madness changes Ophelia and the spirits Hamlet releases in his performance of madness posses Ophelia. Madness also connects to the idea of sexual unchastit.  The idea of plucking petals off a flower becomes Ophelia stripping her own virginity.  This play demonstrates the idea that individuals can catch madness, just at the Early Moderns believed.

Will: A Pansy for Your Thoughts: Ophelia’s flowers in Film Adaptations
Some symbols which Shakespeare used have lost their meanings for contemporary audience. Ophelia’s flowers are one of these symbols.  Many modern productions have to find a new means of presenting these symbols. Theater facilitators often connect the flowers to the world of the feminine.  Areas early moderns connect to the female realm are emotion, and nature, and Ophelia embodies both.  Ophelia sings and reveals the truth in her madness.  Directors often either substitute the prop flowers with other symbols or have Ophelia use bodily actions which render the flowers useless.  In one film, Ophelia passes out Hamlet’s love letters, now making them public (or fragments of love letters).  The letter fragments infer a specific interpretation to her reason for madness.  She also must distribute specific sections of the love letters to other members of the court which indicates a method to her madness. One director has Ophelia distribute bones and pieces of straw.  They are from nature, and represent death.  The director does not indicate the source from which Ophelia procured these much more menacing props. These props also confuse the ideas which the flowers  represent. These may give different ideas, but the audience can experience and impact these props. The other option is to have physicality explain the flowers and the way in which she distributes them. Using body language tends more towards the emotional side of the idea of madness. In another production her hands are filled with flowers and she does not give the flowers, but throws some, and spreads out the other flowers.  The way she plays her emotional state is the way that the characters and audience memebrs understand the meaning.  The Emphasis of the visual effects can allow the audience to gain a deeper understanding of Ophelia through different methods, despite the grief of Shakespeareans who bewail the loss of her written lines. (Will also asked that further questions about further films be directed to her).

Preston: Let’s look at Two Noble Kinsmen 5.2
In this scene, the jailer’s daughter does not act like the usual mad person, beginning with the fact that she speaks in verse when mad characters typically speak in prose. This play frequently has characters eaves dropping on other characters, and jumping into scenes.  The rhetoric in this particular scene suggests that she is eaves dropping on the others.  The doctor’s cure worked, and she is now playing mad in order to get what she wants from her suitor. She has multiple verbatim repetitions of what others have said before she enters (such as “in the way of honesty” which has different meanings coming from the father and then from the daughter). She also suggests finding a blind priest for the marriage (a blind priest will realize it is not Palamon).  The biggest repeat the doctor’s use of  “twenty times” they should kiss, and when the suitor suggests they kiss a hundred times she replies “and twenty?” The two can share his response “and twenty” as a means of recognizing her sanity.  Another proof of her sanity is that she clearly notes the difference of men (the height of Palamon vs. Arcite). She now loves the suitor who has corrected his means of wooing (she complains about his methods earlier and emphasizes things important to her and he does these things when he pretends to be Palamon). She sets up a fake Palamon and fake Arcite in this last scene and points out that their height difference has changed (“how you have grown”).  Many Shakespeare plays have the men masked (when they should not be) and the woman refers to the end of the world, as a descriptor for marrying the right person.  The jailer’s response to her request to sleep is “Yes, marry, will we” showing his desire to marry her.   Just previous to this, a messenger enters to relay information we already know which heightens the intensity of the scene and allows the two characters to come further.

Questions:

How often are male characters treated for madness? Not often, but we have more examples of their supposed madness being treated than their actual madness.

The Dark Room and Malvolio: The idea behind the use of a dark room is to mute the sensory overload, but for sane characters it drives him mad.  Some characters even speak of such sensory deprivation as a means which would drive them mad.

Why does only Ophelia go mad with the idea of transference? Women were supposed to be more susceptible to madness, and Hamlet first chooses Ophelia to watch his performances of madness.

Is there a way to show catching the infection of madness?
There are some ways; one would have to ask a director.  Not everyone in a modern audience would understand the means of transference, so there are only a few ways that this can be staged.

What is the clinical discourse of madness and the humors in the Early Modern period? Since we live in a clinical culture, we often think that we can separate the metaphor from the clinical, but that is not always necessarily so (breast milk does transmit certain illnesses).  The flowers are always metaphors, so you have to make a different metaphor.  How do you relate our medical language to the play?
The theatrical language is particularly interesting in exploring this idea.
There is not always a distinct clinical discourse, the focus is on excess of qualities, it is more about a tipping point than distinct lines and we can identify an excess or a balance of the humors.
Even today we cannot always identify what is wrong with mental illnesses.
The idea that we can put mental illnesses in check boxes is beginning to erode, and the distinction was very blurred in Early Modern England.

How does the idea of transference in Hamlet relate to the idea of holding a mirror up to nature, and trying to enlist the audience on Hamlet’s side?
Hamlet is aware of the idea of transference and how others can receive madness.  He is conscious of the perception of theater.

Colloquy Session XIII: History and Culture: 2013 Blackfriars Conference (10/25/2013)

Good Afternoon Everyone,

This is Molly Zeigler live-blogging Colloquy Session XIII: History and Culture for the 2013 Blackfriars Conference on Thursday 10/25 at 2:30 pm. Today’s colloquy is being held at the Staunton Performing Arts Center’s (S.P.A.C.E.) location at 107 West Beverley here in Staunton. Thank you to the Staunton Performing Arts Center for hosting today’s event.

This Colloquy is exploring representations of and the impact of  history and culture in and on performance and interpretation of Early Modern dramatic works.

Chair: James Byers

Presenters: Michelle Blas; Elizabeth Kelley Bowman; Elizabeth Floyd; Louise Geddes; Stephanie Howieson; Matthew Kendrick; Marie Knowlton-Davis; Megan Lloyd

This colloquy took on an informal conversational style from the beginning.  Each presenter introduced their work and invited questions and feedback from the audience and from their fellow panel members (the following paragraphs represent initial introductions and feedback).  Each panel member came prepared, having already read each other’s work.

Michelle Blas and Elizabeth Kelley Bowman are both from the University of Guam. They spoke about a recent production of The Tempest that they mounted in Guam.  Shakespearean productions are rare in Guam.  What was of interest was how the audience engaged with the colonial themes and representations in the text and performance.  The audience was made up of individuals both native and non-native to Guam.  The Caliban and Ariel in this production were represented as avatars of native people and “native spirits.”  This production explored tensions between ‘conquered and conquerors.’  Guam, as a setting, provoked its own conception as an island that has been under the rule of a variety of colonizing entities (currently an American territory).  In this production Ariel is native to the island, a “true native,” and she (a female here) remains at the end of the story.

Stephanie Howieson is a member of the Rogue Shakespeare MBC MFA Company.  She portrayed Duncan and the porter in the Rogues’ recent production of Macbeth. Her paper Demons of Faustus and the Witches of Macbeth” seeks to explore the representations of the demons and witches in these plays and their interaction with the respective lead characters.  It is oft put forth by critics that Macbeth begins his play already overly ambitious.  Ms. Howieson’s work seeks to trouble this assumption about Macbeth’s characterization: There is no textual support for the idea.  What role did these figures – witches and demons – play in these works?  How much do such figures engage with and influence the non-spiritual/non-ethereal characters?  One way into these works is to consider how demons and witches and how ambition and drive were perceived in the Early Modern period.

Elizabeth Floyd’s work is focused on the Henriad (RII-H5) and specifically on how the character of Henry V has been portrayed at different times throughout history.  At different points in English history, Henry V has been presented as a hero, as a bit of a rake, as an ambivalent character, and as a consummate performer (among other representations).  Ms. Floyd’s work examines the production history of Henry V from 1723-2012.  At times of war and peace throughout this time period the representation of Henry V as changed in relation to respective social agendas and expectations.

The work, presented here, of Matthew Kendrick, out of New Jersey, is focused on The Knight of the Burning Pestle.  Beaumont’s play was first performed in 1607.  The work is a parody of chivalric romances and a satire of contemporaneous works such as Dekker’s Shoemaker’s Holiday. There is a sense of the ‘everyday’ and of the working classes in England. Mr. Kendrick’s work seeks to explore the relationship between the laboring community and the theatre.

James Byers’ work examines the representations of the Irish nationality in Early Modern drama. There is only a handful of characters in Early Modern English drama represented as Irish.  Byers’ work seeks to trouble the limited representations of the Irish by exploring how they were possibly received by audiences (then and now) and if said representations (often negative) are shaped by performance or cultural perception.

Louise Geddes is out of Adelphi University.  Her work examines the relationship between city drama and the figure of Margaret Thatcher in the zeitgeist. Thatcher located a sensibility to the working classes as a weakness.  Thatcher was certainly “no friend of the arts.” City dramas seek to explore “damage” at a local and personal level.  Jacobean drama appears classical so its performance may well seem to fit within a traditional paradigm, but it is because of this perception that such plays can operate within the culturally hegemonic sphere as burrs or rebellious entities and cultural critiques.

Marie Knowlton-Davis’ work is focused on Friar Laurence (R&J, of course).  She views the character as a “duplicitous antagonist” and a “lapsed Catholic” representing the tensions between Catholicism and Protestantism.  Friar Laurence’s representation also exceeds this religious characterization because of his use of natural/spiritual elements. His complicated nature provokes study and attention.  Marie Knowlton-Davis runs a summer youth theatre program and is interested in mounting a production of Romeo and Juliet in the near future wherein the character of Friar Laurence will be explored and developed in depth.

Megan Lloyd’s work is focused on the Lord Chamberlain’s Men and their delivery of the ‘St. Crispin’s Day’ speech from Henry V.  Of particular interest is how Kempe’s leaving the Chamberlain’s Men may have impacted the meaning and reception.  Her work examines the idea that Early Modern troupes are or are not ‘bands of brothers’ – how close are they?  The possible relationships can be examined by looking at the works and their portrayals and receptions, and by looking at the actual make-ups and changes within the structure of the companies.

It was a pleasant afternoon and discussion.

Blackfriars Conference 2013–Colloquy #11: Methods III: Acting in Shakespeare: What We Teach and What We Learn

Hi everyone! Sarah Martin here to liveblog Colloquy Session #11: Acting in Shakespeare: What We Teach and What We Learn. Today’s session chair is Caroline Latta from Columbia College Chicago and features presentations from Tara Bradway of St. John’s University and Adirondack Shakespeare, Kevin Gates of Texas State University, John Harrell of the American Shakespeare Center, and Allison Glenzer of the American Shakespeare Center.

Tara Bradway began our colloquy with a brief summary of her paper which focuses on Shakespeare’s kingship cycles. Bradway asks the question, “what makes a good kingship cycle?” She compares the kingship style of Richard II and Henry V. Richard’s focus is internal while Henry is aware of needs of those around him. Richard’s internal focus, Bradway argues, leads to his demise. She also notes that Richard’s internal nature is problematic for an actor in performance. Mary Baldwin College M.F.A. student Cyndi Kimmel then gave a portion of Richard’s monologue in the famous deposition scene. Bradway says that it is this moment in which Richard is most “theatrically potent” as he identifies himself as an actor without a role. M.Litt student Jamie Jaeger then performed a section of Henry V during which the title character likens himself to the sun. This metaphor, Bradway argues, shows that Henry is putting on a mask of kingship in contrast to Richard’s unmasking during his deposition. Henry’s ability to  successfully perform kingship is what leads to his ultimate victory. Richard, Bradway argues, discovers that he also has this ability, but after his deposition. Kimmel demonstrated this moment as she performed a brief section from the end of the play.

Kevin Gates wanted to find a new textual approach to performance of Richard II. Gates was inspired by John Barton’s 1963 production in which the same actor played both Richard and Bolingbroke. He was also inspired by the American Shakespeare Center’s production of Hamlet that featured a coin toss at the beginning of the play to determine whether the quarto or folio text would be performed. In Gates’s production, the actors tossed a coin to determine which actor would play Richard and which would play Bolingbroke. Gates argues against the idea that Richard was too heavily under the influence of flatterers. Gates asked his two lead actors to come up with their own interpretations of each character and this resulted in two highly contrasting depictions of Richard and Bolingbroke. The shortened rehearsal process (three weeks for each character) created some confusion in terms of blocking, but did not cause any major problems for the production. Costumes also played an important role in Gates’s production. Richard wore an gold tunic while Bolinbroke work a red tunic. The actors donned their costumes at the moment of the coin toss and this created the need for Bolingbroke to have a quick-change. Gates says that he, “underestimated” the challenge this quick change would pose to the performance. Gates stated that greatest affect the double casting method had on the performance was the portrayal of Bolingbroke. Whereas Gates’ counterpart played Bolingbroke’s ambiguity, whereas Gates’s portrayal showed Bolingbroke as a man “ready to fight”.

Colloquy chair Caroline Latta transitioned the discussion from the stories of two theatre companies, to the pedagogical methods she uses when teaching Shakespeare to acting. She devotes the first portion of classes to Elizabethan language with an emphasis on the theory that Elizabethan audiences went to “hear a play” rather than see it. She teaches actors the basics of scansion and rhetoric and how scansion can inform performance. Latta engages her student actors with the text “physically rather than intellectually”. She explained that she might separate women from men and have them each shout lines at one another to demonstrate the rhythm of iambic pentameter. She says that physicalizing the language helps her students engage with the text–Shakespeare’s or even contemporary playwrights. Her actors use the First Folio text to find speech and performance cues in the plays. Latta also shows a clip from Playing Shakespeare in which David Suchet and Patrick Stewart each perform a different version of Shylock from The Merchant of Venice in order to teach the students how actors make choices.

Latta then opened up the discussion to the panel which includes ASC actors John Harrell and Allison Glenzer. She asked the panel, “what are companies looking for that we are not teaching?” Bradway mentioned that her company relies on actors who can scan and analyze text and come prepared on the first day of rehearsal. She also looks for actors who can listen to each other to have ownership of their text and realize that, if an actor truly listens to another, “they can’t help but say their line”. Latta asked John Harrell and Allison Glenzer what they look for as acting teachers through Mary Baldwin College. Harrell said that his graduate students tend to have very good backgrounds in scansion and rhetoric and that he tries to translate the intellectual intelligence that the students have into functional performance. He noted that a complex idea is just a series of simple ideas and that it is those simple ideas that an actor performs. Glenzer said that the “rigor” of the process of acting–the commitment to emotion and repetition is what she tries to instill in her student actors.

Latta and Glenzer demonstrated Latta’s “gauntlet exercise” in which she has two groups of actors to perform lines from Richard and Lady Anne. The actors volley the text back and forth line by line. The exercises forces actors to listen to one another and then return the energy of the other actor.

Latta and Glenzer also discussed the problematic nature of grading students in an acting class. They talked about how important it is to have a student actor write a paper so that the actor learns to articulate his or her process and the teacher has something tangible to grade. Glenzer and Bradway then discussed the importance of a shared vocabulary in a company with limited rehearsal time. Latta asked the panel how they get actors “in the body”. Bradway said that she puts together a playlist of songs relevant to the play and has the actors find moments in the songs that exemplify their character relationships and demonstrate those relationships through movement.

Harrell said that he emphasizes specificity of action when he teaches actors. He asks students to slow down and realize that they have to stop one action before they start another in order to demonstrate specificity onstage.  He then is able to “suck the air out” of the space between the moments so that performance remains dynamic.

Glenzer and Bradway performed a short scene from The Winter’s Tale in which Harrell asked them to demonstrate a “snapshot” version of the scene. Glenzer and Bradway created specific shapes with their bodies to exemplify moments within the scene. He said that the exaggerated physical gestures eventually pare down into playable stage pictures.

Harrell and Gates discussed their experiences in their respective “coin-toss” productions. Harrell said that he preferred performing the quarto order of scenes in Hamlet whereas Gates preferred playing Richard.

Latta emphasized the importance of keeping student actors in the moment and allowing them the space to make a discovery. Harrell  said that he urges students to find moments of discovery in the other actor onstage rather than from an internal or abstract place.

The colloquy conversation concluded with a discussion of different suggestions and anecdotes about the auditioning and casting process that included both panel and audience. The group discussed the difficulty of teaching acting as acting classes so rarely actually reflect the profession of acting. As John Harrell said, a classroom of eight to ten actors has almost nothing to do with the actual job of acting in several shows a week and performing a show over and over again while making each performance fresh and exciting.

Colloquy Session X: Big Woo

Chair: Nicolas Crawford

Title Big Woo attempt at humor

Wooing is pervasive in Early Modern drama. There is a range of different types of wooing from stalker, to homoerotic, to romantic.

Wooing sometimes becomes something else.

How do we identify a woo element?

Actors woo the audience, especially as Iago, and Richard III.

Theater itself woos audiences.

To move or solicit alluringly.

Crawford announces we will be starting out with Act five, Scene two from Hamlet.

Rick Blunt – Laertes,  Patrick Earl – Hamlet ,  Colin Ryan – Claudius,  Stephanie Holladay Earl – Queen, Russell Daniels – Osric,  David Millstone – Lord

Crawford has Hamlet hold Laertes hand though his whole apology speech and Laertes response until they call for swords.

A scene that is not obviously a wooing.

Presenters:

Joseph Stepheson: Even though the words are on the page we don’t always do what they say but it can provide important visual image

Thomas Sellari: Hamlet being so close to Laertes when you know he want to kill him, it is very interesting.

Blunt: Who is convincing who of what? It is interesting to think about who is watching this and who the display  is intended for.

Thomas Sellari

Phantom Loves, artifacts of plot lines that have disappeared. One character claims a love, but we never see it enacted. These phantom loves are important because they determine the relationships between characters. Richards wooing of Anne, does  she come to care for him. R+J Romeo’s love for Rosalie, whom we never meet. Hamlet and Laertes, some people found H’s apology to Laertes disingenuous, but I take it more sincerely. I read Hamlet as a quest for self identity. But I don’t believe Laertes’ acceptance of the apology. The idea of phantom love may exclude the idea of wooing.

I wonder in the film version of Othello(Branagh) where Iago swears his friendship to Othello, the camera is on Iago’s face and there was some sort of residue of affection there and I wonder if Richard’s wooing of Anne is sort of the same thing. He says he wasn’t made for love but maybe he is.

Joseph Stepheson

If Rosaline wasn’t in Romeo and Juliet if it would be a very different story.

The term hand-fasting is a ceremony where people would hold hand and declare a vow of love for each other.

Chancer in 1960 looked back at a book by Henry Swinburne from around 1600 that there are two kinds of hand-fasting: of the present tense, and of the future.  The of-the-future hand-fasting could be broken of like a traditional engagement.

If they exchange a vow in terms of present tense then they are man and wife, even without a priest, church or witness. Present tense hand-fasting does not require holding hands, just present tense vows. Anything additional just ads to the ceremony and proof for possible legal complication.

Catholic Church was clear that the marriage was real, but they had to get Church Married too. As Protestantism became the norm people did hand-fasting more and more and not get church-married or get married later, perhaps at the baptism of their child.

Duchess of Malfi uses the correct legal ;language of present tense hand0fasting.

S. Earl – Duchess, Ryan – Angelo, Emily Joshl-Powell – Cariola

In this scene she actually used the Latin term for of the present and says that the church can follow up what hey do now.

A wooing scene where we have the woman being the wooer.

Audience: A the time people could be punish for participating in clandestine marriages, even witnesses could be punished.

Stepheson: “This if flesh this is not marble,” indicates touch, hand holding, plays good documents for finding out what people did in a hand-fasting, plays show a lot of uniformity.

With Shakespeare virtually every comedy has some reference to hand-fasting

From Shew hand-fasting after Kate and P’s fist scene together Baptista officiates.

Bridget Rue  – Kate, Patrick Midgley Petrucchio, – Baptista

Sometimes another person can utter the words of the contract there can be witnesses.

Petrucchio leaves saying “Father, and Wife” and end with a kiss, not legally required but traditional.

Spontaneous hand-fasting of Claudio and Hero at the party.  And hand-fasting before revel of Hero being alive at the end. David Millstone- Leonato, Esterhuizen – Hero, Fernando Lamberty – Prince, Powwell – Beatrice, P.Earl – Claudio

Characters often don’t say the words in present tense, is there a reason? Would the boy-actor/adult male actor make people uncomfortable? But why when all stage romances were boy actors and adult men.

Winters Tale

S. Earl -Hermione, Midgley – Leonites, Daniels – Polixonies , Joey Ibanez

They had Hermione and Polixonies doing stuff with each others hands the whole time as is indicated in the script. Not a real hand-fasting, but a perceived one.

Othello

Blunt- Iago Lamberty – Othello

Iago vowing his love hands and heart to Othello and Othello’s acceptance. “I am you own forever” – Iago

Blunt point out that Iago and Othello could be kneeling facing each other.

Stepheson: Same language as Claudio to Hero.

T: When seeing B playIago it was amazingto see that hegot whathe wanted but hehas ruined everything.

Stepheson: Othello says “Now are thou my lieutenant”

Blunt: From the first moment Iago has it set up so that there is no way they can avoid the end. This train is going downhill.

As You Like It

Conor Strickland, Stepheson’s his research assistant, joined in as Rosalind in the As You Like it hand-fasting scene with Daniels as Orlando and Ibanez for Celia.

Very interesting to see it with all male actors

Stepheson Rosalind has a legal husband after this scene. Did Richard Burbage actually kneel there (on the Globe stage) and actually say this?

Amy Simpson Grubs Do the names change anything?

P. Earl:  It isn’t a planned thing it just kind of happens.

Blunt: Celia realizes what is going on.

Stepheson: In the play they’re really married.

Nicolas Crawford ended session for time.

Touring troupe acting scenes

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