Blackfriars Conference 2013 — Colloquy Session #7: Rhetoric

Good afternoon, everyone — Cass Morris here with one of today’s four colloquy sessions: Rhetoric. The participants in this session are: James Beaver, Scott Crider, Fiona Harris-Ramsby, Jane Jongeward, and Kyle Vitale, moderated by Chelsea Phillips. I will be liveblogging this session from 3:30-4:45pm.

Phillips begins by suggesting that the participants introduce each others’ papers, move onto the papers themselves and discussion of the role of rhetoric in  each participant’s larger work, then move on to the responses to each paper. Phillips also encourages the auditors to participate throughout.

We begin with Beaver and Jongeward introducing themselves and each other.  Jongeward’s paper concerns statistical analysis of unfinished lines in King Lear – using mathematics to judge verse irregularities, specifically unfinished lines. Lear has the highest ratio of unfinished lines (11%). Jongeward finds this high proportion significant, as it is “a play full of people who will not listen to each other.” Beaver’s paper argues that the rhetoric used for describing the wood in Titus Andronicus shapes the social relationships on-stage. He notes both the discrepancy between the court and the woods, with the latter perfect for enacting violence, as well as Tamora’s use of rhetoric to effectively build a set. Beaver relates to Latour’s concepts of objects (in this case, the woods) as both social and physical.

Second, Vitale and Harris-Ramsby introduce each other. Vitale’s paper argues that scholarship neglects to account for Elizabethan notions of reverence. He examines how Shakespeare’s attitude towards reverence is complex and uses to satirize and appropriate religious conformity fostered by the Tudor state and reinforced throughout time. Concerned with relationship dynamics of reference, Vitale questions how Shakespeare enacts the bodied act of reverence in royal figures. Vitale argues that Shakespeare collapses the concepts of “crown” and “crowd” through an examination of Richard II. Vitale notes that he is also working with Beaver on “books as gatherings.” Harris-Ramsby’s paper looks at Troilus and Cressida, challenging the notion of Cressida as subjugated female body by arguing that Cressida’s rhetoric fights against that idea and against the external construction of Cressida’s self by others. She looks particularly at Cressida’s use of aposiopesis, arguing that she literally “becomes” that figure of speech. Harris-Ramsby’s larger work looks backwards towards the origins of rhetoric in the construction of character in Greek drama, and how that informs modern theories of performativity.

The third pair is Phillips and Crider. Crider argues that the Macbeths use periphrasis, among other rhetorical devices, for unethical purposes, and that their use of it initially brings them together but ultimately erodes their relationship. He believes that the rhetorical constructions in Macbeth help to illustrate the slippery slope between words and action. Crider comments that he is looking more closely at Ciceronian concepts of rhetoric. He is interested in working with others who are interested in figuration as integrated with the larger world of rhetoric. Phillips is examining instances of repetition in Othello (see the Wordle she created to illustrate). Her focus is centered on the psychological effect of repetition — that the truth of a statement is assumed with its repetition. Phillips looks particularly at Iago’s use of repetition to manipulate Othello, and that his ability to do so decreases after Emilia takes it over. She focuses on three forms: general repetition (from audience or reader perception), intentional repetition (character perspective), and compulsive repetition (spontaneous from character perspective). Phillips argues that Emilia’s imitation of her husband’s rhetorical forms reveals his villainy.

Phillips then opens up to questions. Vitale asks Crider if he’s thought at all about how the play Macbeth itself acts as figuration, presenting an idea for the audience/reader. Crider responds, “My answer at first is, ‘I don’t know.’ But that doesn’t mean I won’t respond.” Crider says he finds that acts of persuasion within a play often act upon the audience in a similar manner. He questions the idea of if a rhetorical figure can, in itself, have an ethical configuration — and concludes that, no, probably not, they have to be examined in context — particularly since the figures generally appear tangled with each other in use. He says he does believe that the figures in the play and the play on the whole do have the potential to move the audience ethically. Vitale further questions if Crider thinks it relates to the early modern/Puritan idea of theatre’s ability to affect the audience. Crider responds that he thinks the play itself negates the probability that the audience would rest at complicity with the Macbeths, since we see the outcome.

Phillips notes that this idea of morality in rhetoric appeared in several of the papers, particularly turning the attention to Harris-Ramsby’s ideas on Cressida as intentionally performing certain figures or as speaking them spontaneously. Harris-Ramsby discusses that, with aposiopesis particularly, it draws attention to the compulsive power of silence. “It depends on how the actress embodies the figure, because there’s a decision to be made as to the duplicity of the figure itself.” Is it that Cressida is overcome by bashfulness, or does she break off her speech in order to reflect? Is she reclaiming some of her own power, working against the constitution of her as duplicitous? Phillips connects this to the silences in Jongeward’s paper — what do we do with these silences? Jongeward notes that her discovery led her to question that, if we see a rhetorical device heavily in use in one play that we don’t see in others, “can we change how we normally see it?” Phillips relates this to how we think a lot about “not seeing” in Lear, but that Jongeward’s paper made her think about other sensory deprivations, particularly “not-hearing”. Crider interjects that “rhetorical figures have a very broad effect.”

Phillips tells the auditors that the group has had a lot of comments on how “rhetoric creates reality” or space, and directs the conversation to that theme. She draws attention particularly to Beaver, to the issue of language “literally creating space” on the early modern stage. Beaver says he wants to “get away from thinking of language as referential,” noting that no stage tree is going to be able to do all the things that Tamora says or implies. And, he doesn’t think the audience expects that. “They want the image of the words conjuring something.” He also notes how Aaron sort of forces her to shift her approach, since she starts out “in the wrong genre.” Beaver notes that Tamora’s speech draws us off into different temporalities, particularly with her use of seasonal vocabulary and her ventriloquizing of other voices.

Vitale has an interesting reading of the first scene of Richard II, noting it as one of the only representations of a “divine king already troubled”. He relates the conversation in this scene to passages from the Book of Common Prayer. He considers that the language, in a way, transposes the audience to the space of a church, importing the desires and meanings of prayer, and the “potential failures of all that that prayer is wrapped up in”, essentially “placing the audience before the Eucharist”. Vitale notes that “reverence is an incredibly invisible term” — oft relied upon, rarely enumerated. Reverence, he claims, was used as both strategy and tactic in the early modern church. Relating to the idea of the forceful use of reverence, Harris-Ramsby says that she thinks that, when we discuss rhetoric constructing reality, we tend to think too restrictively. Troilus and Cressida, she notes, is very much about reconfiguring — and notes that the typical construction of Cressida as a whore is problematic in lights of that subversion. Crider discusses how it relates to the idea of praise and dispraise, and to rhetorical underpinnings of “the sublime”.

Phillips then turns the group’s attention to the performance possibilities of these rhetorical understandings — how does the actor embody them, and what affect does that have on the audience? “Can it be genuine flustration,” Phillips asks (wondering if she can use that as a word) “in one instance” and somewhat intentional and crafty in another? Harris-Ramsby notes that, even if it is intentional, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, particularly seen as a strategy of self-preservation.

Harris-Ramsby then asks to interrogate the notion of persuasive rhetoric as seen in a negative light, especially in Othello, and if that changes when Emilia subverts the expectation, turning it more cathartic and “gets the bad guy”. Phillips replies that Emilia’s repetitive rhetoric starts off with her caught in a cycle, repeating “My husband”, but that she eventually becomes able to use that in order to damn Iago. Phillips notes that these repetitions cue Iago to speak, but also prevent him from speaking — and that she finds something quite powerful about how the character who has had 1100 lines is thus not only silent, but frustratingly silent. The group spends a moment discussing the rhetorical struggle between Iago and Emilia in that last scene, and Harris-Ramsby notes that Emilia’s triumph moves the audience from being passively complicit with Iago to feeling themselves represented and vindicated by Emilia. Phillips states that, “What is really insidious about Iago is that he doesn’t have to repeat things very frequently to make people lose their minds over it.”

Beaver brings up the fact that everyone wrote about rhetoric in tragedies, and particularly the idea of repetition leading into violence, as well as the focus on repetition, either within a trope or of a trope. Phillips thinks it relates specifically to Crider’s points about the relationship between language and action. “Maybe we run out of rhetoric at some point and then have to stab somebody.” Auditor Peter Kanelos notes that, in comedies, “They use rhetoric and then, instead of stabbing somebody, they kiss somebody.” Crider points out that you may have to do either; Kanelos notes that, “if it’s Jacobean, you do both at the same time.”

Crider states that he started look at the Macbeths because he wanted to look at a marriage, not a courtship. He’s interested in how the use of rhetoric to deliberate does eventually force an action on the stage. “If we think of human deliberation as a category, we can then see why speech yields to action.” Vitale relates that to the early modern period’s ideas on theology — and thus, its logic — in a way that the 21st century doesn’t necessarily track. Crider thinks that relates to the romances, with their strong themes of redemption and transformation. Phillips asks Crider if Macbeth’s deliberation seems to grow less frequent; he confirms and says that he thinks it moves from periphrastic to hyperbole to a plain style by the end of the play.

Crider seeks to shift the focus to the idea of how people respond to being treated “with a kind of verbal violence” in Troilus and Cressida and King Lear, and he inquires if Cressida acquires agency in the kissing scene through the rhetorical forms. Harris-Ramsby thinks she is “more performing the complete illogicality of what’s happening to her”. Crider then asks if she rather compels an audience to recognize how her agency has been taken from her. Engaging with an auditor, Harris-Ramsby discusses what choices Cressida has in that moment. When the auditor asks, “Could she pull a Lucretia and kill herself?”, Harris-Ramsby replies, “I think I’d rather just break off my speech.”

Noting that we are nearly out of time, Phillips poses a last question, inspired by a point in Beaver’s paper: Looking at rhetoric and performance as a cycle of reproduction, what is then produced? Beaver says his best answer is, in his text, what Aaron says, “an excellent piece of villany”. Jongeward notes that, at least in the tragic worlds of these plays, what they produce is only destruction, and therefore nothing. Vitale thinks that mere catharsis is too passive; he sees “a call that requires a response of some kind”. Crider wants to know what it is that actors get out of rhetorical consideration of the text. Harris-Ramsby agrees, stating that “rhetoric and performance always intersect at the body”. And Phillips says that that was her answer: what we get is performance possibility.

Thanks to everyone who attended this session! (We had a very full room). This was a great discussion and I think will generate a lot of further thought and study.

Honorific – Blackfriars Conference 2013

Hello, my name is Clare, and I will be blogging for the Honorific session of the OCS Blackfriars Conference 2013.

Honorific is an event in honor of George Walton Williams IV.

Ralph Alan Cohen opened with anecdotes about being a student of George Walton Williams. He states that Dr. Williams was an intimidating teacher because he could look into the eyes of a glad student and see into his soul. He is also a guide to students, and steered them towards areas where they would most flourish. He gave complete support to Shenandoah Shakespeare Express, including hosting the troupe as they passed through the area on tour, and they shared academic and life stories.

Today, the “academic children” and “grandchildren” of George Walton Williams read one of his children’s books entitled The Best Friend. The OCS residential troupe accompanied the reading with acoustic music and sound effects. The Best Friend is about a locomotive laid from Charleston to Augusta. In 1830, on Christmas morning, the train (the best friend) made its first run. One morning in June, the boiler burst and the train had to be reassembled, but the train was reassembled as the Phoenix. The workers made the biggest railway in the world, beginning the railroad age. The reading ended with the musical number “Love Train.”

Dr. Williams is very passionate about music, especially Gilbert and Sullivan. In his honor, the OCS residence members performed a re-write of the lyrics of “Modern Major General” as “A Scholar Bibliagraphal.”

Dr. Williams followed the session by thanking the presenters, and saying a word about each of the readers of The Best Friend. He stated that the OCS is among the happiest of his grandchildren, and his biological grandchildren are enjoying the camps and events at the OCS. He ended with thanks to all gathered.

Blackfriars Conference 2013 –Paper session IV

Hello!  Whitney Egbert here again, live blogging our fourth paper session at the Blackfriars Conference from 2:00pm to 3:15pm today.  Our session is being moderated by Amy Cohen of Randolph College with paper assistance given by OCS actors Emily Brown, Ben Curns, Rene Thorton Jr., Rick Blunt, and Patrick Midgley.  (I am posting a little early so that those here at the conference can get the handout for the first paper electronically if they so desire.  Check back after two as the session gets started for further updates.)

Leslie Thomson, University of Toronto
“Give me the light”: Illuminating Discoveries on the Early Modern Stage

(Please see Leslie Thomson handout)

Leslie Thomson is discussing the use of light as a sign of darkness and illumination, the idea of the light as both a figurative thing and a literal thing.  In addition, she will explore the idea that the light may have been used in the dimly lit discovery spaces of the theatres where light was provided by candles or natural light.

The handout has six scenes Thomson will use as examples – the first three for outdoor spaces, the second three for indoor spaces.  The first scene is from Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II – an exchange between Gurney and a character named Lightborn, an obvious indication of the topic of light as well as the language used about light in the scene.  The second scene Thomson uses is from Romeo and Juliet where Paris indicates he sees a torch coming towards Juliet’s tomb (indicating Romeo’s approach).  Thomson also points out the further use of indicating needed light for the tomb scene.  The third scene is fromThomas Heywood’s The Rape of Lucrece where a taper is used to illuminate the bed behind the curtains.  The fourth scene is from John Fletcher’s Monsieur Thomas – another example of a playwright helping the audience better see what is happening onstage by calling for additional light for a specific moment.  The final two examples are from Fletcher’s The Knight of Malta and Heywood’s Love’s Mistress in moments where additional light is needed again to help illuminate a moment for the audience.

Torches and lamps being used as practical items as well as illuminating truths is an intriguing idea as an actor that I will definitely be taking with me into future exploration of plays.

Ian Borden, Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film, University of Nebrask-Lincoln
Rebooting the Stuart Stage: An Examination of Early Modern Thrust Staging in the Restoration Theatre

(there is a handout for this presentation which will be made available at a later time)

All our actors join us to kick off Ian Borden’s discussion of how proscenium and presentational staging changed theatre and the problems that they might have possible posed.  Borden wonders if the Stuart houses would have changed for the new style – what would you have done about the doors for entrances, the sight lines for balcony scenes, etc.?

Borden discusses many examples of stage directions written in scripts that create many complications when compared with the pictures and drawings of the stages and performances.  Borden is using all five of the actors and the Blackfriars stage to show how complicated and confusing the new style might have been.

One of the examples Borden uses is a scene where you would have EIGHT fighters onstage at the same time – a moment that Borden questions as a fight director who is not allowed to knick the set which would be difficult to avoid with so many swords present.  Borden leaves us curious and interested in what all the change in styles might have meant.

William Proctor Williams, University of Akron
“Where’s a parking lot when you need one?”: What Happens to the Princes in the Tower Onstage

William Proctor Williams discusses the murdering of the two York princes in the tower by Richard and his cohorts across three different plays: The True Tragedy of Richard III by an unknown author, Shakespeare’s Richard 3, and Thomas Heywood’s Edward 4.

Williams is most interested in what each play says is done with the bodies after the boys have been killed – burying them under the stairs in one versus being brought onstage (our actors bring in large stuffed monkeys to represent the two boys) and leaving them for a priest to bury in another.  In this later example, the bodies are not, according to the script, taken offstage at the end of the scene and the next scene must enter and walk over or around them.  Not an easy feat for actors or directors and Williams calls for ideas and help on the matter.

Melissa Aaron, California State Polytechnic University at Pomona
The Fortunate Comedy: The Financial Rise of All’s Well That Ends Well
(Please note, this is a different title than listed in the published program, which was the title of Melissa Aaron’s paper presented in 2011)

Melissa Aaron starts off by saying that All’s Well That Ends Well (abbreviated here after as just All’s Well) is a play about money (not the unfortunate comedy as it is often known) – follow that money trail!

Aaron talks about the curses of Macbeth and an opera referred to as “The Unfortunate One” and of All’s Well where the  curse was found in the box office.  Aaron argues that this is not true and that many other factors played into this history for All’s Well, things that can be, and have, changed.

Aaron uses the OCS as an example with information from Dr. Ralph Cohen – when you are doing three shows a year, you have specific types that you are trying to hit every year that maybe All’s Well doesn’t fall easily into; when you start doing more productions each year, you can start doing some of the lesser known plays or plays that don’t carry the major names that are read by every high school student across the country, such as All’s Well.

Aaron is walking us through several recent productions of All’s Well and the finances that the producing companies had for that production year – she is using the OCS,the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Globe, The National, and The Royal Shakespeare Company.  All of those companies had good financial years in the seasons where they produced All’s Well.

Aaron has earned herself some extra time by bribing the bear with honey!  Well played Ms. Aaron.  Well played.

Aaron has left me with the thought that maybe it is time we stop avoiding some of the lesser done plays merely because they are lesser done and people don’t know them as well.  Maybe it is time to start diversifying the shows we teach in school, maybe it is time to broaden our horizons.

Evelyn Tribble, University of Otago
Where are the Archers in Shakespeare?

Evelyn Tribble will be discussing the of archers in Shakespeare’s Henry V, both the lack of their presence onstage in the battles and yet the presence of deaths by arrow.

Tribble’s first example is Clifford’s death, when he enters with an arrow in his neck (Clifford portrayed by Curns).  Then comes the parody of that – Blunt as a character named Ralph (from a play who’s title I did not catch) with a forked arrow through his head.  Our third example brings the first appearance of a long bow in the hands of Hercules which is actually shot in the scene to kill a centaur – a staging challenge to be sure but made easier by the centaur being offstage.  Our final example is of a scene where both the shooter and the victim are visible on stage when the arrow is shot and strikes which our actors played with the shot going into the discovery space.  I am unsure how you might actually shoot an actual arrow as that would be a very special kind of stage combat staging to make sure it got off stage without hurting anyone.

Tribble’s final points are on the fact that arrows make no noise for stage battles and that Shakespeare may have been making a statement about those who used them.

James Keegan, University of Delware
A Piece of Cake, a Bit of a Dance, and a Fat Suit on Its Knees: Staging the Epilogue of Henry IV, Part 2 at the Blackfriars in 2010

(please see James Keegan Handout)

James Keegan illuminates the staging of the epilogue based on his experience here at the OCS after having played Falstaff in both parts of Henry IV.

There were script cuts made merely for time – indicated on the handout – but Keegan’s main concern will be how do you indicate the actor without the character with only 13 lines between the exit and the re-entrance.  Keegan talks about the choice to quick change out of his costume and into an outfit that an actor might wear into the rehearsal room while creating a Falstaff puppet of sorts that could be brought on at the same time so that the audience could see the actor and the shell of Falstaff all at once.

The more Keegan describes the final moments of this play, the more I am saddened at having missed the production.  It sounds beautiful and poignant as a visual to end the Henry 4 plays.

Keegan describes the final moments as a wake of sorts – a chance for the audience and him as the actor to bid farewell to the character.  In reference to the lines indicating dancing (Kemp, who would have been delivering this originally, was a skilled dancer), they developed a moment where Keegan would pick up the kneeling puppet of Falstaff and waltz with him as a final dance.  Keegan closes his presentation with a touching recounting of the timing of his mother’s death on the opening of the production and how, in the final moments, it was not just one good-bye, not just one more dance, but two.  A truly touching end and moment.

Blackfriars Conference 2013–Lunch and Learn Session: “The Actors are at Hand!” Bringing the OCS to your town

Hi everyone. Sarah Martin at your service once again. Today marks the first “Lunch and Learn Session” of the Blackfriars Conference at 11:30am in the Tyson Education Center at the OCS.

Our session featured presentations from OCS Tour Operations Manager Darlene Schneck, OCS Director of College Prep Programs Kim Newton, and Dr. William (Rusty) Jones from Murray State University.

Our session also featured short scenes from two of the Touring Troupe’s 2014/2015 World’s Mine Oyster Tour productions (Othello and The Merry Wives of Windsor) and featured Touring Troupe actors Rick Blunt, Russell Daniels, Patrick Midgley, Patrick Earl, Stephanie Holladay Earl, and Bridget Rue.

Today’s session began with a brief scene from Shakespeare’s Othello featuring OCS Touring Troupe actors Patrick Midgley and Rick Blunt. OCS Tour Operations Manager Darlene Schneck then asked everyone in the room introduce themselves and gave a brief overview of the Touring Troupe’s tour schedule and the locations they usually visit. According to Schneck, the Touring Troupe manages approximately seventy performances and one-hundred workshops (which range from stage combat to clowning to rhetoric sessions) on the road. Schneck described the frons scenae that the Touring Troupe uses to adapt the myriad of different stages to the thrust staging popular in Shakespeare’s day.

Dr. William (Rusty) Jones from Murray State University and the Chair of the Murray Shakespeare Festival talked to the session attendees about the benefits of having the OCS Touring Troupe come to one’s institution. Dr. Jones passed around a handout that detailed the history of the Murray Shakespeare Festival and a breakdown of events from this year’s festival that was produced in conjunction with the OCS Touring Troupe. Dr. Jones explained that the Murray Shakespeare Festival helped to get students involved with Shakespeare, both in terms of scholarship and performance. The Festival encouraged students to enjoy their studies included a screening of the recent film version of Coriolanus starring Ralph Fiennes of Harry Potter fame and a campus-wide Shakespeare insult battle! Dr. Jones also recruited local high school students to join in the festivities and asked the OCS actors to get involved with the local community theatre. Dr. Jones encouraged the attendees to, “make it a town event” when the OCS comes to visit. The  Murray Shakespeare Festival culminated in a final performance of Twelfth Night that had an audience of seven hundred and fifty!

OCS Director of College Prep Kim Newton then took the floor to discuss the logistics of OCS Touring Troupe residencies and the various workshops and educational seminars available to teachers. Echoing Dr. Jones’ example, Ms. Newton discussed the possibility of making an OCS residency a true community event. OCS Education programming has workshops and seminars appropriate for all ages, from school-aged children to different business retreats. Newton also explained that OCS Education can customize workshops  for specific classes and gave an example of an instance where the residency was able to customize a workshop for a class that was studying Bertoldt Brecht–not an obvious choice for a Shakespeare company!

After Ms. Newton’s presentation, Dr. Jones screened a video that captured the OCS Touring Troupe’s residency at Murray State.  The video featured OCS actors Jacob Daly and Rick Blunt who explained the American Shakespeare Center’s emphasis on using Shakespeare’s staging conditions in performance as a pedagogical tool. Rick Blunt also talked about the opportunity for the OCS actors to form relationships with the community, especially when the OCS returns to a town year after year.

After the video, Dr. Jones explained how an institution manages to pay for a week-long residency. He emphasized outreach within the community, such as getting local schools involved to become your audiences. He also suggested selling merchandise, contacting alumni, selling advertising to local businesses, and  applying for external grants to generate funding. Dr. Jones mentioned that he also advertises through the local NPR station a few weeks before the residency by broadcasting what he calls, “a moment with Shakespeare” twice a day as the residency approaches. Social media and regional newspapers also provide helpful advertising space for the residencies. Dr. Jones works with a committee of professors, student employees, student volunteers, and community volunteers to make the Murray Shakespeare Festival run smoothly.

Murray State University uses a theatre much larger than the Blackfriars during the OCS residencies and they are able to fit sixty gallant stools on their stage! Dr. Jones talked about issues of space and how the OCS can adapt to incredibly small performance spaces. The actors took to the stage, or, rather, to the floor in the small Tyson Education Center to demonstrate just that with a brief scene from The Merry Wives of Windsor that featured Touring Troupe actors Bridget Rue and Stephanie Holladay Earl.

Blackfriars Conference 2013 — Keynote Russ McDonald

Hello, I’m Charlene V. Smith and I’ll be live blogging Russ McDonald’s keynote: Shakespeare and the History of the Bookish.

McDonald opens by admitting a kind of fatigue evident in his title, using the work “bookish,” and confesses that today he is taking on the role of “Mr. Fussy” and complaining about both bibliography and performance, at the risk of offending everyone in this room.

1. Doubting the Text

Recent books and articles have over-filled the hole found in Shakespeare studies twenty years ago: the book trade and the culture of early modern print. In this section of his paper, McDonald questions the supremacy this topic currently has in Shakespeare studies. McDonald wishes to cast a skeptical eye on some of this scholarship and some of its “dubious orthodoxy.” Though scholars have paid much attention to the book, they have paid little attention to the text. McDonald confesses to being irritated for two decades by the well-known and frequently cited essay, The Materiality of the Shakespearean Text by de Grazia and Stallybrass. The arguments in this essay have achieved and maintain importance in our field, shattering textual certainties. In their essay, de Grazia and Stallybrass argue that “word,” “work,” “character,” and “author” are vexed terms. McDonald points out that these words are changeable and complex, but not incomprehensible. He warns that we must not allow the history of the book to erase the text itself.

2. Cutting the Text

McDonald next objects to the despotism of modern directors; in particular, the way they cut the text. Recent productions of  A Midsummer Night’s Dream  have lacked wonder and a sense of transfiguration, partially caused by the excising of some of McDonald’s favorite speeches. Next McDonald points to the lack of Queen Margaret in Mark Rylance’s current production of Richard III, running in New York. In 2012, the BBC announced the production of The Hollow Crown. While initially excited by the idea and the line up of actors and directors, McDonald views the resulting TV movies as acts of vandalism. McDonald feels the cutting was too ideological, such as the lack of references in Richard II to the king’s guilt in in the Duke of Gloucester’s murder. McDonald feels the most damaged play in this series was Henry IV, part 2. This long and leisurely work of 3300 lines was reduced to 1 hour and 52 minutes. A colleague of McDonald’s pointed out, “It’s a pity the BBC didn’t make this series for the people who would watch it, instead making it for those who won’t watch it anyway.”

3. Reading the Text

McDonald asserts the importance of reading the text in order to experience scenes which you wouldn’t see on the stage. Directors frequently cut scenes that do not advance the plot. If they seem to have no function, McDonald points out, they must have a function. Shakespeare had a reason for including these scenes, which often add to the texture of the play. McDonald then discusses 4.3 of Coriolanus, a frequently cut scene between a Roman and a Volsce, two characters we haven’t seen before and won’t see again. McDonald argues that the scene is thematically rich, especially in fire and heat imagery. McDonald also looks at 3.1 of The Winter’s Tale, a scene, again, with two characters we haven’t seen before: Cleomenes and Dion. According to McDonald, this scene sets up the possibility of magic and establishes the oracle of Apollo as something special. The two characters feel diminished, “I was nothing,” in the wake of their experience, an idea that stands in direct contrast to Leontes’ hubris. These lost scenes give depth, layers, and texture to a play.


McDonald ends by arguing for disciplinary balance: an awareness of what others in the field are doing. He promotes the value of pluralism: page and stage, book and text. McDonald praises George Walton Williams, the honoree of this conference, for always maintaining this balance in his teaching.

Blackfriars Conference 2013–Paper Session #3

Good morning everyone! Sarah Martin here to liveblog the third paper session of the Conference. Our session’s moderator is Louisa Newlin from the Folger Shakespeare Library and features papers from Jeremy Fiebig, Davey Morrison Dillard, Kimberly West, Heidi Cephus, and Michael Wagoner. Amy Rodgers, from Mount Holyoke College, was unable to present her paper, “Choreographing Shakespeare” due to illness.

Jeremy Fiebig, Fayetteville State University/Sweet Tea Shakespeare/The Shakespeare Standard

“Actors’ Renaissance Rehearsal as Actor Training: A Case Study”

Fiebig began his paper with a question: “does the Actors’ Renaissance Season (ARS) model produce better prepard actors?” Fiebig decided to use the ARS model with his company, Sweet Tea Shakespeare. Fiebig’s initial results showed that, yes, the ARS model does produce better prepared actors when he entered the first day of rehearsal and found a cast who was completely off-book. As the rehearsal schedule went on, however, Fiebig found that the stresses of using the ARS model led to some interpersonal conflict and morale problems. Fiebig stated that the best benefit of using the ARS model was the incorporation of a “sharer” model akin to the the practices of early modern theatre companies. Fiebig argued for the ARS model as a pedagogical tool which shifts the focus on students from “what can you do” to “how can you be?”

Davey Morrison Dillard, The Grassroots Shakespeare Company

Stressing Audience Interaction: Soliloquy as Dialogue in Richard III

Actor: Mary Baldwin College MFA student Charlene Smith

Dillard began his presentation with a re-enactment of the Grassroots Shakespeare Company’s production of Richard III as Mary Baldwin College MFA student Charlene Smith performed Richard’s soliloquy from Act 5, scene 5. Smith first performed the soliloquy without any audience interaction and then again where all of Richard’s questions were directed to the audience who were invited to respond vocally to each one. Dillard argued that the audience’s vocal influences the direction of the scene and called this, “a sort of Elizabethan choose your own adventure”. Dillard stated that actor/audience interaction can transform the text and create meaning that may not be apparent in a reading or performance that lacks such audience interaction.

Kimberly West, Cumberland School of Law

“Shakespeare and the Law”

Law professor Kimberly West uses Shakespeare’s plays to teach courtroom skills to future lawyers.  She said that she always begins with The Merchant of Venice because of its famous courtroom scene. West analyzed Shylock’s failure to gain a pound of Antonio’s flesh as the result of a faulty bond. West detailed what exactly voided the  bond between Shylock and Antonio that led, ultimately, to Portia’s ability to save Antonio.

Heidi Cephus, University of North Texas

“The Thundering Audience in King Lear”

Cephus argued that the storm in King Lear represents the audience’s judgment. She stated that the audience becomes the storm in Lear and is “responsible for judgment” in place of the king. Cephus argued that the storm is a consequence of Lear’s refusal to weep and passes the judgment that Lear cannot pass himself. She explained that rain represents the audience’s tears as Lear commands that the storm (or the audience) go on to destroy the world of the play and that it is the audience’s role as the storm that, “transforms the actors into the characters”. For Cephus, the storm is no mere special effect, but the process by which the audience creates the play they are watching.

Michael Wagoner, Florida State University

“Imaginative Bodies and Bodies Imagined in Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Fletcher and Massinger’s The Sea Voyage

Actors: Sarah Blackwell, Kelly Elliot, Liz Lodato, Riley Steiner

Wagoner began his presentation with an explanation of the process of “extreme casting”: doubling so extensive that actors must change character without leaving the stage. Wagoner explored how extreme casting affects the process by which actors and audience create character. His example from The Tempest had actors Sarah Blackwell, Kelly Elliot, Liz Lodato, and Riley Steiner use only voice and physicality to demonstrate character difference whereas his example from The Sea Voyage asked the same actors to use costume and prop signifiers. In the example from The Tempest, actress Riley Steiner changed her vocal pitch and accent from that of an old man with a deep voice, to a high-pitched, nasal, and ethereal voice when she switched characters from courtier to spirit. In his example from The Sea Voyage, actress Kelly Elliot showed her character changes through the presence or absence of a hat. When Elliot removed her hat, she changed character, but another actor held Elliot’s empty hat to show that Elliot’s first character had not left the scene. Wagoner explained how, in the first example, the audience does not see a visible absence of the first character but recognizes the character change through the vocal and physical modulation. In his second example, the audience learns that the abandoned signifier, in this case a hat, showed the audience that the non-speaking character was still onstage, but the actor was now playing another character. Wagoner then discussed how the extreme casting process provides links between audience, actors, and characters. For example, casting the courtiers as the spirits in The Tempest constantly reminds the audience the the courtier is also a spirit and vice versa. This practice, Wagoner argued, highlights the audience’s experience of performance.

Wake-up Workshop: “If This Were Played Upon A Stage”

Good Morning and Welcome to the 2nd day of the 2013 Blackfriars Conference, its Ashley Pierce again. I will be live blogging the 2nd ever Wake-up Workshop, “If This Were Played Upon A Stage” presented by OCS Director of College Prep Programs Kim Newton. This session took place from 8:00 to 8:45 AM on Thursday October 24th at the American Shakespeare Center.

As Newton welcomed the attendees to the 2nd day of the conference and explained what it was she did for the OCS, she welcomed one of her previous camp interns who was kind enough to come this morning. She then explained that this particular workshop would be pertaining to embedded stage directions in Shakespeare’s plays. Further explaining that like the previous day, this is a chance for the attendees to get an idea of what it is the program offers in the way of education workshops, Newton explained how each time she presents a workshop she likes to bring a fresh piece of work to the session. With that in mind she wished to talk to the group about how embedded stage directions help the attendees students and actors.

As Newton asked for a volunteer, she handed a gentleman a piece of text from Tom Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” which was a particularly long stage direction. She then asked the group to explain what we learned from that stage direction, with a member of the audience saying “particular action is dictated by stage direction.” Other conclusions included information about the world of the play, costumes, and props. This then brought about the idea of if this stage direction was intended for the audience or the reader. Newton made the correlation between Stoppard’s stage directions and Shakespeare’s, saying that Shakespeare’s are not nearly as long or descriptive.

Newton then offered a selection from “Pericles Prince of Tyre” by William Shakespeare, a scene in Tyre with four actors present. She asked for four volunteers to join her on stage, and then arranged them on stage. The volunteers then began a reading of the scene to start to discover the embedded moments in this scene, moments like Helicanus dropping to his knee, Pericles dismissing the Lords present on the stage and Pericles having Helicanus rise and then sit. Newton then asked the volunteer actors if there was any written stage directions in this scene, to which there were none. Moving forward they were then asked if there were any embedded stage direction, to the which the rising and sitting was brought up for discussion. A participant mentioned that this moment could be a joking moment, which then led to the question of Helicanus’s age and less joking since he is in the presence of a king. Another embedded stage direction moment came from Helicanus in the form of a description of one of the Lords present on stage. One of the big things that was discovered was that the actor playing Pericles must listen to his fellow actor to obtain the needed information from the scene as it pertains to movement. It was with a bit more discussion that an audience member came to the thought that stage directions, embedded as well as explicit, dictate status on stage. 

In respect of time Newton then brought Act 3 Scene 4 from “Macbeth” she wished to explore to discover and show embedded stage directions. Making a quick disclaimer, Newton explained this is a cut version of the script; the attendees then went around the room to read a line each. After the read through Newton explained how there were many of the same types of embedded stage directions as with the scene before, this time with a greater number of actors. The important thing to note is the discovery of when Macbeth sees the ghost of Banquo and when he is talking to the other actors in the room. Also the directions for the other Lords in the scene as well as for the ghost of Banquo are embedded within the scene.

As the time wrapped up Newton asked those who attended to please continue to think about embedded stage directions and how it can help their actors and students to understand the scenes and characters better.

Blackfriars Conference 2013–Colloquy Session #2: Methods I, Pedagogy and the “Renaissance Run”

Hello Everyone, my name is Clare and I will be blogging for the 2013 Blackfriars Conference Colloquy II. This colloquy is presided by Greg Fiebig and the presenters are Craig Edwards, Kendra Emmett, Katie Wampler, and Jeremy Fiebig.



G Fiebig: I chose to use the Renaissance Run (Ren run) as a means to start rehearsals for a Shakepeare in Performance class working on Much Ado About Nothing. My son, Jeremy has done extensive research on the method and employed it in his work as a theater director.

This is a case study, which looks at the twelve man doubling group, limited rehearsal time, lack of director, and other period staging practices.  I cast myself as Don Jon, and the first watchman.

Looking back on the experience, we often view Ren run as a flipped classroom, (not using fact based knowledge towards a production, but learning by doing).  There are four major aspects of the flipped classroom.  1) Students arrive off book with a paraphrase, so they have experience before the class. 2) Students have an incentive to work hard.  These students had a contract, and had to perform after a week.  3) Instructors assess student understanding through conversation rather than tests. 4) Students learn through problem solving in performance.  Students worked in acting, directing, theater management, and literature.


J Fiebig: I used a rehearsal process similar to that of the American Shakespeare Center (OCS) Renaissance Season (about 5 weeks rehearsal with 2 weeks Ren style, and no director) as a device for the Sweet Tea Shakespeare Company.  In particular, we will looked at Romeo and Juliet.  Contracts with the actors made them sharers in the production.


G Fiebig: On the question of acting, what is the learning outcome or objective you want students to learn in an acting class?


Wampler: I want students to create and pursue character objectives.  Also, I work on the idea of presence on stage and productive moments of breaking the fourth wall.


J Fiebig: I want them to look at the ability to solve problems on their own.  I want them to look at how to prepare a text, to understand how to deconstruct early modern texts, and how to find embedded stage directions connecting to tactics/objectives.


G Fiebig: How does this Ren run model help actors accomplish those learning objectives/outcomes?


Wampler: Objectives orient towards the other characters on stage and interacting with the audience.


G Fiebig: Kendra played Beatrice, and continually wanted feedback. What did you get from me and how did you manage and achieve these outcomes?


Emmett: As an actor, you look to your director for feedback and guidance.  Even though we discussed that you would not be a director, you put forth the model, so you remained an authority. The response I got was “If I don’t like what you are doing, I will let you know,” therefore, I had to trust what I was doing and keep doing it with the knowledge that if something was wrong we would address it. There was a lot of problem solving we had to do on our own.


G Fiebig: Did you grow as an actor?


Emmett: Yes, I learned to come to rehearsal with multiple ideas to play with moments, or multiple ideas for tactics and how to test them.  I might only get to try one or two before I perform it.  I had to come with multiple options to solve the moments, and I had to have those ready.


G Fiebig: How does this confront the idea of the lazy actor?


J Fiebig: In the Blackfriars, I get a high on the space and the way that it works.  I come out thinking that the process will make good actors, but I do need good actors to make the process work well.  I need actors who are dedicated, but there is a definite value which I am still seeking to define.


G Fiebig: The model appears to become better over time. Having done it twice, does the process become better and does it make better theater?


J Fiebig: I would like to use the model again, I do not know if my actors would like it.


G Fiebig: What is the place of the director and how does it help with pedagogy? I had to teach students to act and what entrance and exit conventions are, etc. So I directed act 1, and Kendra did act 2 last minute, and we delegated the responsibility of the point person for each act from there.  However, there is also an individual who has to make acting decisions. How much influence in the casting and the audition process effects the production?


J Fiebig: It is true that a good deal of directing is choosing the best cast. I found that my role became that of a coach to make sure that actors did not freeze up, and continued to make choices.


G Fiebig: What, as a company member, did you learn about directing from stepping into that role?


Emmett: I was also taking a directing class at the time, but this was my first chance to direct (this class started before the others). I was a complete novice. For this style, I became a “traffic cop.”  It was the biggest piece of what we had to do for the second day of work.  The process began with looking at entrances and exits; then we sorted out where the actor needed to be.  Mostly it was organic, in that actors figured it out for themselves.  We only stopped if we had a problem in the flow.


G Fiebig: Her act also had the masquerade which was chaotic. It was interesting getting to watch them figure it out and being able to make them figure it out.  The end result was something about which I had no previous concept, including the music used. Was there some directing taking place in the absence of the director during the Ren run?


J Fiebig: Yes, the actors sort out a person to take the lead in each situation (often things like Hamlet having to direct Rozentcranz and Guildenstern).  I had a lot of teachers who wanted to take control of the chaos and fix it.  The major explosions of the process came from too many people wanting to take control.


G Fiebig: After the performance of Much Ado, I got pages of directors’ notes from audience members, and I had to choose which to acknowledge and send forward to the actors.  There were moments where I did not like what I was seeing on stage, which was frustrating for me as a teacher, director, and audience member. There was one particular instance in which I felt that I had to step in.


G Fiebig: What is the literary take away from a Ren run rehearsal process?


Edwards: I wanted to look at the objectives.  I wanted students to locate, identify, and interpret literary devices and how they convey meaning in a macro and micro sense on stage.  I also want my students to be able to interpret the literary devices visually. I wanted my students to be able to see both rehearsals and productions.  I am particularly interested in symbolism, and how a symbol can have multiple meanings on stage.  (Students often have a one-to-one correlation with symbolism).  I saw Alli Glenzer able to interpret a speech (I don’t remember which) in which she physically interpreted a repeated idea four or five different ways, and I want my students to be able to see those multiple possibilities and the ways they can realize these ideas.


J Fiebig: I think there is a desire to play the ambiguity here at the OCS rather than looking at is as an option. The rehearsal process is about negotiating which of the options to pursue and how it affects the other characters in the scene.  There is comfort in allowing the audience or the reader to choose what the ambiguity means rather than trying to have the actor solve it. As a result, the performances are more conversational, and less essays.


G Fiebig: There is ambiguity in the way they play the text as well as how to read the text. You allow students to do their own cutting, and some of the actors at the OCS are allowed to do the cutting.  How does that play into the pedagogical or learning outcome?


J Fiebig: The reason for this model is less to engage in a conversation about literary choices, and more about opening up clearer acting choices for the actors, it is more about performance time and clear story telling.  We do have literary conversations and I do insist on certain lines which will not be cut.  In Romeo and Juliet, we had to replace Juliet, and the first Juliet made several of her own cuts, and the second one wanted to make different cuts which was difficult for Romeo.  There is also a conversation about cutting famous lines.  But this is all less of a literary focus.


G Fiebig: We talk about original practices as conventions of theater (such as the OCS use of a bell for an intermission signal).  There are certain ideas which an audience must be taught, and certain objectives for what we teach the audience.  What are the learning outcomes for the audience members and how does the Ren Run methodology allow us to active that?


Wampler: We want to entertain and educate audience members.  How do we do that so that they know what to expect? Your expectations of the experience effects the experience itself.  So how can you prepare the audience for a certain experience in order to help them get the most? We look at marketing (the OCS does podcasts) we want to let them know that the lights will be on, so they do not expect the quiet of a black out over the audience.


G Fiebig: What do we do when we get them there? How do we teach an audience that audience interaction is okay, and can be good? You talk about circles of energy, how can you use that to connect to the audience?


Wampler: Circles of energy range from introvert to overbearing an audience member.  We need to look at where the audience members fall with these circles of energy and how they will react and respond to audience targeting.


J Fiebig: To me, this seems like a new convention in which I wonder if we are teaching people to respond in a particular way because they are trained at other events how to be audience members, and I wonder how audience members can react new ways. There is something about performance, because if it is just Shakespeare that we love, we would read it at home. 


G Fiebig: The idea of new and familiar conventions raises the question if there is anything new.  Shakespeare had to create a different kind of place for a different kind of event for what his audience members would experience.  The audience has to agree on the proper channels of reaction to a given situation.  In every performance, we have to teach the audience and they have to learn how to respond to things. One of the things we use for audience pedagogy is marketing.  We need to persuade people that the performance is something they want to be a part of, and that they want to come.  What is the marketing/theater management aspect of the Ren run?


J Fiebig: People need a reason to come to a play.  For many people, the fact that Shakespeare is “important” is a part of it.  For my company, the Shakespeare aspect, the outdoor aspect, the homespun aspect, the food and drink, the beautiful people and animals in the performance are all attractions.  The artist in me struggles with the idea that the performances are strictly pedagogical, and with the idea that what we are doing is branding and marketing. I like to look at the idea of value instead, and the idea of building value. I like to look at where we go to get values.


G Fiebig: How does that balance with theater management?  Our ticket sales were dismal in terms of the project.


Wampler:  The biggest marketing technique is “word of mouth.” We had students sit by the cafeteria and call out to people about the production.  We could have a great performance, but still few people came.  Being able to engage in the performance is really beautiful, and it is sad when we cannot share it.


J Fiebig: We found that taking pieces of the production to the community and performing in a different space and made it reach to a larger range of people.  We found that the Ren model caught attention and interested people.

G Fiebig: We performed in lots of different places which made the performances and the audience response unique.


Wampler: One of the performances was particularly interesting because a lot of people passing through, (including small children who came to watch) and were interested in the world we were able to create.  Kids do not like to sit quietly, and they do not always learn the audience conventions we create in interactive theater. The interaction and the world are a huge part of the process.


J Fiebig: The idea that it is cheap theater is not always applicable.  Sometimes the cheapest show to produce is much better.


G Fiebig: The Ren model turns the classroom upside down. We tried to look into it, are there any questions we can clarify?

Audience member: How do you balance the circles of energy and direction?

Wampler: I have to coach individually and make them repeat it until they get into the proper circle, the students can feel it and can identify it, and find which one best creates the relationship with the other characters and the audience.  See also, Patsy Rodenburg on body, breath, and voice. (see links and

Audience member: what lead you to the decision to rehearse in multiple different spaces?

G Fiebig: I chose to do so because I knew we would be performing in different spaces, and wanted to build into their experience the ability to adapt to environment.

J Fiebig: I wanted to do that as a marketing technique (we did not have a large marketing budget).  The press release about our traveling practice attracted media attention as well.  Another reason is to allow the actors and audience to have potential access to liquor and coffee.  In addition, different places have different aesthetics and different tones which allow different parts of the text to emerge. Having the actors encounter lots of things that are not part of a pristine environment allows them to grow in their ability to respond to each other and the environment (and become accustomed to inoculate particular distractions), it is also helpful for responding to a live audience.

Audience member:  I have seen that characters can embrace and use the environment as part of the performance, so why inoculate?

J Fiebig: Some things have to be ignored because the character has a larger concern. You have to choose what to inoculate for a clearer and more effective performance.

Emmett: Often embracing the moment becomes comic and you have to balance the meta-theatrical and the tragic.

J Fiebig/audience member: there are moments when meta-theatrical are used to intensify rather than for comic effect

G Fiebig:  Placing new actors in a new environment gives actors more to respond to.

J Fiebig: We also found that it can create more intimate moments between the actors when they have to hold the environment at bay.

Blackfriars Conference 2013–Paper Session #2

Hello again! Sarah Martin here to liveblog the final session of Day 1. Our moderator for Paper Session #2 is Mary Hill Cole of Mary Baldwin College and features papers by Alan Armstrong, Sid Ray, Holly Pickett, Bill Gelber, Cass Morris, and Peter Kanelos.

Alan Armstrong, Oregon Shakespeare Festival

“Dost thou not know my voice?”: Metadramatic Reference to the Doubling Actor in The Comedy of Errors

Actors: M.Litt Students Ian Charles and Nicola Collett and MFA student Dane Leasure.

Armstrong argued that the actor who first played Egeon in The Comedy of Errors also played Doctor Pinch. He argued that the actor must have had a distinct voice and that recognizing actor doubles was pleasurable for early modern audiences. Armstrong argued that Shakespeare “could not have resisted” the opportunity to exploit the doubling. Armstrong used Mary Baldwin M.Litt/MFA students to demonstrate a moment where Shakespeare breaks down the fourth wall to expose his doubling choice when Egeon asks his sons, “Dost thou not know my voice?” M.Litt student Nicola Collett played Egeon while Dane Leasure and Ian Charles played the twin sons as they are reunited with their father who, Armstrong argues, they have heard before in the person of Dr. Pinch.

Sid Ray, Pace University

“To make an unskillful laugh” Shakespeare’s Rhetoric of Belches

Actors: OCS Resident Troupe Members Lee Fitzpatrick, Josh Innerst, Dylan Paul, and Gregory Phelps

Ray explored the role of Sir Toby Belch in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. With such a  descriptive name, yet no explicit moment for a belch found in the text, Ray gave some examples of where such belches may occur in the text and where editors have chosen to insert these noises. Ray explained the cultural relevance of the belch through her discussion of Robert Burton’s iconic early modern text, The Anatomy of Melancholy. Ray argued that Sir Toby must belch and provided her own choice moments for said belches in the play. She enlisted the assistance of OCS actors Lee Fitzpatrick, Josh Innerst, Dylan Paul, and Gregory Phelps to illustrate some of the possible moments for the important belches.

Holly Pickett, Washington and Lee University

“Kiss of Death: Poisoned Properties in The Revenger’s Tragedy

Actors: OCS Resident Troupe Members Josh Innerst, Dylan Paul, and Gregory Phelps

Pickett used OCS actors Josh Innerst, Dylan Paul, and Gregory Phelps to act out the climatic scene of The Revenger’s Tragedy in which Vindice convinces the Duke to kiss the poisoned skull of Vindice’s love as an act of revenge. Pickett compared the gruesome scene to the Catholic practice of kissing Holy Relics which the devout believed held healing powers and how The Revenger’s Tragedy perverts that practice. Pickett gave examples of numerous reliquary busts of female saints which were intended to hold the skull of the saint and decorated with the image of a well-born sixteenth-century lady. Pickett then had her actors take the stage and heightened the religious imagery present in the poisoning scene by placing the image of a sixteenth century lady on the fake skeleton of Gloriana. When the Duke kissed the image of the lady, the actors pulled off the picture and revealed the skull. Pickett’s ultimate argument was that the poisoning scene represented English Protestant dismissal of Catholic relics.

Bill Gelber, Texas Tech University

“I Can Smile and Murder Whilst I Smile”: Harold Pinter’s Shakespearean Strategies

Actors: OCS Resident Troupe Actors Lee Fitzpatrick, Dylan Paul,  Gregory Phelps

Gelber began his presentation with a moment from Harold Pinter’s Betrayal as Gregory Phelps performed a monologue in which his character masks his true anger with mocking, a Cockney practice known as “taking the piss”. In this practice, one character subtly mocks another, but the target of the mocking knows that the other character is “taking the piss”. Gelber argued that Pinter adopted this strategy in his plays from the works of Shakespeare, particularly Shakespeare’s villains. Gelber, aided by OCS actors,  gave examples from Othello, Hamlet, Macbeth, and Love’s Labour’s Lost where the characters demonstrate “taking the piss”.  Gelber himself stepped in to act opposite Lee Fitzpatrick in a “taking the piss” demonstration.

Cass Morris, American Shakespeare Center

“Why do you thus exclaim? Emotionally Inflected Punctuation in Editorial  Practice and Performance”

Actors: OCS Resident Troupe Actors Lee Fitzpatrick, Dylan Paul, and Gregory Phelps

Morris began her presentation with an explanation that her job as Academic Resource Manager for the OCS has exposed her to numerous editions of Shakespeare’s plays and that she has noticed that modern editors tend to use punctuation to convey the emotional sense of a phrase rather than simply denoting the grammatical structure of the phrase. While these “emotionally inflected punctuation” marks are found in editions intended for students below the graduate level, Morris argued that such editions are commonly used in both amateur and professional performances. Morris also used OCS actors to demonstrate the implications of such punctuation in performance. Morris argued that “emotionally inflected punctuation” can limit character choices because of their prescriptive nature and leaving them out allows for more choices in terms of character choices. Morris concluded with the argument that performance choices should be left to the performers themselves and not editors with advanced degrees.

Peter Kanelos, Valparaiso University

Richard III and Embodied Rhetorical Figures on the Early Modern Stage

Kanelos began with an example of Lady Anne’s monologue over the body of Henry VI in Richard III and an analysis of the rhetorical figures which conjure Richard III. He argued that Richard is a product of rhetorical figures. Kanelos gave a brief history of the ancient privileging of rhetoric and our modern devaluing of the art of argument.  In a discussion of the play’s prophecy that, “G of Edward’s heirs the murderer shall be”, Kanelos argued that the G stands not only for Gloucester, but that the G is the figure of the deformed villain himself. Kanelos used the image of the “G” to trace Richard’s character arc from Duke to murderer to King to dead man. Kanelos explained that  Richard’s sense of self is divided rather than unified and his rhetorical figures demonstrate just that. Kanelos concluded his explanation of the “doubled self” just before the famous Blackfriars Conference  bear made Kanelos the first victim of this week’s presentations. Well done.

Colloquy Session V: Published Text

Doyle Ott

As a circus performer and director, Doyle Ott is interested in how much abuse plays may take, and if it gets a laugh, let it rip. Ott explains that circus and Shakespeare have a habit of feeding off each other.

Starting in the 1800 across Europe and America there were clowns who had solo Shakespeare and performance acts. Acts were introduced to by short speeches and full of physical comedy.

In the 1800 circuses would mount versions of Shakespeare histories and battles.

Audience would have been familiar enough with the plays to recognize the verbal parody of the Shakespearean clowns.  Most circuses would boast a Shakespearean Clown or Jester.

The scenarios in which Shakespeare’s language was used were often little related to original scenario, for example “to draw or not to draw” referring to a tooth ache.

One clown was referred to as “the Shakespearean Jester” and another “the Touchstone of the circus”

The repartee of Shakespearean clowns was influenced by Shakespeare’s description of York in Hamlet.

The clown evokes Shakespeare’s name to lend himself authenticity as a fool.

Dan Rice was a prominent Shakespearean clown in the United States.  His costume recalled Uncle Sam, and he didn’t wear clown white, he was more jester than buffoon.

Another famous Shakespearean clown, Wallace, once worked with Rice on short notice, Wallace played high status fool, and Rice took the place of the lower status clown, playing off of Wallace’s pretensions.

In 1849 the Rose Olympic Circus was built where Othello, and Richard II were performed by actors described as second rate actors but first rate clowns.

Shakespearean clowns had to have enviable knowledge and experience of Shakespeare’s works in order to parody them so effectively.

Lack of documentation leads many to discount them but relevant to Shakespeare performance tradition.

Iska Alter and William Long

Sidestepping feuds over who wrote what in Romeo and Juliet Alter and Long examine a few key important storytelling differences between the First and second Quarto publications.

First seven scenes of Q1 and Q2 are similar, but the variations they have are very import and inform context and content that inform audience about the play.  Differences abound even in title pages and in the opening Chorus. In Q1 the prologue starts out “Two household, both friends in dignity” which sends a very different opening message than the version in Q2 “Two households, both alike in dignity.”

Servants and their conduct differ slightly in Q1 and Q2.  The space they occupy is quite different because the servants dominate action in Q1, which suggests that comic action dominates the scene whereas Q2 is bawdier and the action shared more among the servants the young men of the family and the Lords.  Q2 also names 3 out of 4 servants who appear.

In Q1 “I” is used more in this scene and in Q2 “we.” What might this mean?

In their entrances in Q1 Benvolio and Tybalt don’t speak, but in Q2 we immediately are given clues to their characters by what they say. In Q2 Benvolio has a better idea of how fight affects city and the families. In Q1 everyone just stars fighting, in Q2 we get to know the characters a little better.  Q2 folio presents citizens entering fight led by officer.

When Lord Capulet and Lord Montague join the fight with their wives resistance are we meant to laugh at the sight of old men attempting to use their long swords?

In Q1 the Price’s speech after the brawl is shorter than in Q2.  However, it is not merely the length of the respective speeches, but prince’s condemnation is fiercer in Q2.

Q2 folio gives us are presentation of the destabilizing effects of the feud.

Arlynda Boyer

Plague, Playing, and Printing

A new narrative about Shakespeare’s writing history.

Ms. Boyer points out that gaps in the publication history of Shakespeare’s plays coincide with outbreaks of plague.

Most quartos boast of diverse and sundry performances, which could only happen out of plague time.

What if the plays weren’t published because they weren’t being performed?  Plague interrupts playing, which in turn interrupts publication.

Playing and plague shared a relationship, opponents blamed theater for plague infection partially because they believed that theaters offend god.

For plays to resume totally mortality rates in London would have to stay under between 30 to 50 people a week for 20 days depending on the date.

Privy Council was so anxious to ward off infection would often close theaters at the smallest risk.

1603 1 in 5 would get the plague that finally ended in late 1609. Shakespeare wrote some of his darkest plays during this period, not knowing when they would be performed.

Quarto publication followed performance between 18 months to two years on average. But if plague interrupted performance for too long this formula was shaken and if plague lasted even longer we have to wait for folio for the publication of the play.

Shakespeare moved companies during first plague of 1593.

During the long 1593 closure Shakespeare wrote Venus and Adonis and Rape of Lucrece.

Only Lear, Pericles and Othello were published in quarto out of nine plays written in plague the 1603-1609 plague years, Pericles may have been sold by co-writer because of hard financial times.

Julius Creaser and As You Like It are thought to have been written in 1599 but not published until folio, even though there wasn’t a large plague outbreak during this time. However, anything that interrupts performance influenced publication.  In June-October 1599 Henslowe records no income, but plague was virtually unknown. This is one of the only instance where not all playhouses closed and opened together, it may have been financial difficulty at Rose or may perhaps improvements to the playhouse. In times of unrest a crowd could turn violent quickly State and city were on edge all summer long, it is possible that this was the reason that the theaters were closed down.

Closures continued through 1613 on and off.

The one thing Early Moderns new about plague was that it spread in crowds, so playgoers may have been staying away, which might have deterred publication.

Amanda Finn

Nothing is so funny as a man in drag unless you’re the butt of the joke.

Changing the spelling of Epicene’s name changes the emotional feel of the play

2008 edition of Johnson’s work limited the stage direction of the elaborate clothing removal.

Epicene means sexless or neuter in Geek.

Epicene was a common name for sexless characters so Early Modern audiences would not have been as shocked by the twist ending

Not one character in Epicene is meant to be taken at face value.

At one point an editor decided that removal of clothing was unnecessary and to just removing the wig.

The revelation in act V exposes the men as the fools that they are.  Removing clothing is more shocking than removing a wig to show definite proof of gender, this is a pivotal scene for nocking men off their pedestals and destroying their social position.

While the men are acting effeminately towards everyone the women are acting mannish. Epicene is the only women who acts the way that a character earlier in the play defines as “womanish.”

Considering the lack of stage directions from this time, it seems unjust to remove this one.

Mathew Vadnais

Plays of the Queen’s Men influenced Shakespeare’s writing style as well as content.

Queens’s Men were designed to divide to reach the most places possible.

Playwrights would not have been able to write for specific actors.

In order to make performance cue parts easier developed strategy of longer speeches and easily recognized cue lines.

The demands of a company that broke and came back together made playwright focus on structure.

By pairing plays with later Shakespeare history plays we see same speech percentages.