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 fOCSination with the dead body on stage.  Plays show a particular fOCSination 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 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

  • #shakes (speedypiper.wordpress.com)

Staging Session III

Beth Burns

Skyping Shakespeare: The Hidden Room’s International Collaboration on Rose Rage

Berns enters and has a screen in front of the discovery space broadcasting an image of Skype, she explains how she brought over British actors to the stage to audition, cast and rehearse a show. Berns advocates blocking via video conference although she does stipulate that they do not choreograph fights over Skype.

Why do people hesitate to work with people far away?

An actor referred to as Lawrence heads to the downstage back of the space.

An actor referred to as James then calls us on Skype and says “Hello everyone in America” the sound is adjusted.

They turn off the Skype camera and get back to Lawrence.

Three men come on from upstage, Lawrence from off stage reads his lines while one actor enacts his blocking in front of the audience.

After the actor silently embodying Lawrence trips over a cord we pause and then Lawrence asks for a few different stage pictures which Burns directs them in.

Now Lawrence is announced to have arrived in the states from the UK and Lawrence enacts the blocking he learned over Skype.

Berns remarks that Lawrence incorporated everything that Jude (the body double) suggested.

Lawrence goes onto explain how he found some of the choices Jude very interesting,and they influenced his interpretation of the scene.

Then Berns and James play a game where she had him stare into her eyes where he saw them on the screen and then give a similar gaze into the camera to show the audience the difference.

Lag is important to manage.  One has to mitigate the lag as much as possible through tech and practice

Actors naturally find a rhythm that works with lag.

Daves and James an(suit) d another man act a scene together across Skype until James phone goes of, but then they continue, when James wants to make eye contact he looks directly into the camera

James says fairwell and is turned off

Dr. Davies, who was an actor in the original project, tells a story about making noise in the kitchen while rehearsing over Skype his father came in and asked how many people were on his computer and he replied “About thirty-five”

Berns puts on a scene with half international actors and half from the states to show off the results of the Skype rehearsal project.

The blocking was well defined, all the actors seemed certain of where they were supposed to be when, no one was upstaged and they were able to interact very naturally and had clearly had sufficient rehearsal.

Robert Matney the tech designer meantioned that theater practitioners are usually luddites. We present a live, real alternative to other entertainment.

We need to retain what is precious about live theater but it is important to overcome luddite tendencies and if you use technology to your advantage you can fold and flatten the world. It is worth the extra effort to be able to rehearse with people on the other side of the world.

 

Kim Carrell

Variants in the Quarto and Folio texts of Richard the III

Textual veriants

Carrell explains that in the Quarto and Folio Richard the III have a lot of small differences, different names, and punctuation differences one speech 12 lines shorter but in Act one, Scene two there is one other massive difference…

Three actors take stage and start the Richard III and Lady Anne scene from the 1597 Quarto. Everything goes as expected and at the end when Anne leaves and Richard says he’ll take her but only or a short time, the audience barely reacts at all.  We are not sure he has won Anne as thoroughly as he thinks he has.

Now they perform the folio.

I Q1 Richard offers her a ring and delights at the way it looks on her finger, when they get to this point in the Folio she offers him the ring first and then he silently gave her a ring and had the same line admiring the way it circles her finger. The reaction of the audience was quite noticeable, and the actors related to each other much more sympathetically for the rest of the scene. The shock was much greater then, after she left and he callously said the same dismissive lines, because we had just seem what looked like a marriage ceremony or at the very least an engagement and he was already making it clear that his vows of love were lies.

Carrell said he came to the idea when he was in an unrehearsed cue script production as Richard III and performed this very scene, he thought he knew what to expect, but when she offered him the ring (which he wasn’t expecting) it really changed the scene.

Carrell asks audience what they think.

MFA student Kelly Elliot says that the moment when Anne offers ring makes Richard’s later speech a much bigger reaction.

Carrell advocates taking advantage of the many sexual jokes. Whitefriars, where Richard says he is going next was red-light district of London.

One little switch makes such a huge difference, so it is really worth it to check the differences between texts.

 

Julia Nelson

Modern audiences are used to proscenium staging, movies, privacy, technology, and less human contact. Early Modern audiences had no privacy, and theater was a communal space where space and light were shared.

So, why would Shakespeare and his contemporaries encourage a rowdy audience to participate in the show with audience asides and soliloquies where the actors directly address the audience and ask them questions?

In places like sports stadiums and Rocky Horror Picture Show modern audiences still get rowdy, shout, and in the latter case (but we hope not the former) throw things at the stage.

Rick Blunt performs Falstaff’s Honor speech. Julia asks him to try if first in the “first circle Stanislavski” style and ignore the audience.  Julia asks the audience to talk back and heckle Blunt.

The audience heckles Blunt while he desperately tries to do his scene and ignore the audience.  The audience got so loud it was difficult to hear Blunt whose character was having an internal discussion. Someone even threw a wadded up piece of paper at him.

The second time Julia asked Blunt to engage the audience as much as possible.

Blunt responded to every shout out and really connected with his audience, the speech with the question and answer format made much more sense the second time around. The audience never got as rowdy as they had the first time, by interacting with the, Blunt was able to keep them in check. Audience interaction was a form of crowd control.

If the play was a disaster on first performance and authors weren’t usually paid until second or third performance.

Nelson explains that the first was similar to modern staging where actors are encouraged to not acknowledge the audience. She then opened the floor to questions and comments.

The actor from the previous scene, known as Lawrence, had been doing Trinculo as audition speech then got the role and then at first performance an overly talkative audience member started interacting with him duringa sene:

L:  What have we here a manor fish?

A: Fish!

L: A Fish. Dead or alive?

A: Dead!

The interaction calmed the unruly audience member down and worked well with the scene.

Another audience member pointed out that we police the audience using the lights, when the audience can see each other they are much more likely to interact. What allows us to hoot and holler is that were sharing the same pool of light.

Colloquy Session IV: Audience

Hello again, Ashley Pierce here again to live blog the 4th Colloquy about Audience on Tuesday October 23rd from 2:30 to 3:45 PM, as part of the 2013 Blackfriars Conference. In this session Garth Michael Clark, Becki Jones, Abigail Montgomery, Abigail Fine, Patricia Wareh, and Michael Boecherer discuss their papers that deal with various audience interactions, staging issues, revisions,  and audiences psyche.

A Midsummer Night’s Mess: Staging a Mechanical Play Towards Royalty by Garth Michael Clark

Dealing with the issues of the staging of the play with in the play moment in A Midsummer Nights Dream, Clark talks about how this can be problematic in various ways. Included in these problems are where the actors are position on the stage and how this can cut out certain members of the audience. Clark wishes us to keep in mind that we must “maintain a good relationship with all audience members…” by positioning this particular scene in such a way that either allow audiences on all sides or to limit the space audience members are allowed to position themselves. This will thus ensure no moments of alienation to the members of the audience, including the royals (who Clark argues could be placed either on the far most end of the balcony or placed on the stage with the actors).

Why a jig? Try a jig! by Becki Jones

Jones talks about the prospect of placing jigs at the end of various Shakespearean plays and how this effects the audience. More specifically, jigs that have been performed at The Globe theatre in London England, as well as ones that Jones had choreographed. Talking about the different types and movements of the jig and how this moment in the performance started to fall into the hands of the clown character to choreograph in 1600, which influenced the jig in disrepute and became increasingly bawdy. Jones requested that everyone refer to her YouTube to see the jig at the end of Richard II and how this worked to not only removed the dead bodies from the stage, but to also infuse life back into the theatre and audience.

“I am Richard…know ye not that?” Possible Tudor Critiques in Two Pro-Tudor Plays by Abigail Montgomery

In looking at Richard III and Henry VIII Montgomery talks about how audience members will think and see Richard III and Henry VIII and the parallels between the two men. Making comments on recent productions at the OCS and how even the costumes are ingrained in the minds of people and how they shape appearance choices. Montgomery also asks; “What, in particular, does Shakespeare argue about Tudor history through the portrayals, words, and actions of major women characters in these plays?” “What does the unsaid and the unperformed argue about Tudor history in these plays?” and “How much of this comes from Shakespeare, how much of it comes from the audience, and how much of it is jointly created in reading, performing, and watching the plays?”

The Profitable Art of Revision by Abigail Fine

Fine talks about how audience reactions would infer upon the revisions of plays in the early modern period. Actions from the audience such as booing, hissing, heckling, etc. would shape the play they were watching. Early modern audiences were not held to the strict actions of today’s audiences, instead playing an important role in shaping the plays and their revisions. Citing a moments in The Knight of the Burning Pestle in which “Beaumont leaves no space for the audience to perform/revise/relate as they normally would during a play.” This then angers the audience, forcing them to dislike the production because “the play had not been written with their pleasure in mind…” Fine says the early modern audience had a sense of rights when it came to revisions in a production and reacted poorly when said that action was removed.

Courtesy, Judgement, and the Audience in The Merchant of Venice by Patricia Wareh

Wareh suggests “that examining another fundamental concern of the text, courtesy, can also shed light on the play’s insistent ambiguity.” This is in regards to recent studies that have focused on the plays illumination through attention to economics and religious issues. Courtesy, as Wareh sees it, determines ways characters interact with each other but brings different forms of judgement together. Contrasting Shylock’s “single-minded pursuit of judgement” to the Christian characters “flexible judgement.” Wareh leaves us with the following thought; “The Merchant of Venice also invites the audience to examine their own judgement.”

“Putting a Spell on You”: The Performance of Language, Stagecraft, and Demonism in Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors  by Michael Boecherer

Boecherer makes the statement that early modern audiences would be able to make correlations between Antipholus’s speech in The Comedy of Errors and their lives in London. This shines a light on witchcraft and how it would effect the audience as they watched the actions and heard the words from this Shakespearean play. The audience’s understanding of witchcraft and demonic spell work is essential to how they would interpret The Comedy of Errors, as well as how they would react to this play. Boecherer addresses the fact that witchcraft is not seen on stage in this particular play, but is instead talked about, which is enough to conjure images and tones in the minds of the early modern audience.