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 XIV (Playing Mad)- Blackfriars Conference 2013

Hello Everyone!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Questions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good Afternoon Everyone,

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

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

Chair: James Byers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was a pleasant afternoon and discussion.

Colloquy Session X: Big Woo

Chair: Nicolas Crawford

Title Big Woo attempt at humor

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

Wooing sometimes becomes something else.

How do we identify a woo element?

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

Theater itself woos audiences.

To move or solicit alluringly.

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

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

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

A scene that is not obviously a wooing.

Presenters:

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

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

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

Thomas Sellari

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

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

Joseph Stepheson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bridget Rue  – Kate, Patrick Midgley Petrucchio, – Baptista

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

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

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

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

Winters Tale

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

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

Othello

Blunt- Iago Lamberty – Othello

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

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

Stepheson: Same language as Claudio to Hero.

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

Stepheson: Othello says “Now are thou my lieutenant”

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

As You Like It

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

Very interesting to see it with all male actors

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

Amy Simpson Grubs Do the names change anything?

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

Blunt: Celia realizes what is going on.

Stepheson: In the play they’re really married.

Nicolas Crawford ended session for time.

Touring troupe acting scenes

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Blackfriars Conference 2013 – Staging Session IV

This is Cass Morris in for Staging Session IV (which Conference Intern Erica Campbell, sitting beside me, has dubbed “the intravenous staging session”). This session features three 25-minute presentations by Paula Baldwin Lind, Mariko Ichikawa, and Kelli Shermeyer, moderated by Sally Southall from Thomas Dale High School. I will be live-blogging from 2:30 to 3:45pm.

Paula Baldwin Lind, Universidad de los Andes, Santiago: “‘Let me enjoy my private’: Representation and Performance of Private Spaces and Privacy in Shakespeare”

Baldwin’s presentation concerns Shakespeare’s management of the idea of private space through several methods, including actors’ movements, manipulation of props, and actors’ voices. She begins with an example from Twelfth Night 3.4, demonstrating “the notion of privacy on-stage”. René Thornton Jr. as Malvolio has his personal space thoroughly invaded by Toby Belch (Tim Sailer), Maria (Lee Fitzpatrick), and Fabian (Gregory Jon Phelps). Baldwin notes that Malvolio’s wish for privacy refers not only to wanting to be left physically alone, but to his inner self — his peace of mind. She cites the work of three French scholars on the idea of space and what defines it, particularly looking at what transforms a “place into a space”, based on the experiences and movements of those inhabiting it. The Blackfriars Playhouse stage is, itself, a place — but the movement of the actors imbues it with identity of a particular space, whether that be a bedroom, a kitchen, a battlefield, etc.

Baldwin then discusses the shaping of material space within the home (a private space). She speaks to the ideological connotations of interior spaces in the home, which were not initially necessarily distinct from public spaces. In the 1660s, the very idea of privacy was sometimes viewed with suspicion. The neutrality of the early modern stage, empty and unornamented but for a couple of doors, “enabled the dramatist effortlessly to whisk the spectator through a succession of illusions, covering, if he chose, the entire physical world.” She does note, however, that some early modern plays do include some set pieces and props, but she believes these to be contributing to the construction of space, not replacing the actors’ and audience’s imaginative role. She hopes to illuminate the benefit of examining spatial perspective for teachers and directors.

Stating a desire to first examine “the private as opposite or complementary to the public”, Baldwin notes the variant definitions of being “in public” in early modern plays. Even private conversations may occur in public spaces, allowing for “private microspaces”. As an illustration, she has the OCS actors present part of 1.5 from Romeo and Juliet: a crowded scene with several instances of those private microspaces. Romeo (Dylan Paul) and Juliet (Tracie Thomason)’s private moment is intruded upon by the Nurse (Fitzpatrick). Capulet (Thornton Jr.) then re-asserts the public identity of the space. Baldwin invites the auditors to interrogate what it is that defines the privacy — the fact that the actors move downstage, that they drop their voices, etc.

Baldwin then moves on to consider the privacy or publicity of the household. She has Fitzpatrick, Thomason, Sailer, and Emily Brown present a scene from Coriolanus, where the ladies have a conversation inside a house — intimate but not truly private, thanks to the observing presence of Sailer’s servant. Baldwin questions if we feel the women are at home, what makes us identify the space in that way, do the stools contribute to that, or the activity of sewing? How does the topic of their conversation affect the perception of the space? Or, the fact that all speaking characters are female?

Baldwin concludes by noting that patterns can shape space, and that Shakespeare manages it in variant ways. He may call attention to it in dialogue, or else by contrast with another type of space. Spaces “are neither containers nor definers of characters or actions”. Rather, the actions transform places into spaces.

Mariko Ichikawa, University of Tohoku, Japan: “A Pet Variant: ‘Enter to/at the door'”

Ichikawa seeks to examine the difference a preposition can make to an entrance. She believes that the difference between entering entirely or remaining within the frame of the door can reveal something about the character’s state of mind or else about the conditions of the stage. She notes that entering “to/at the door” can be used to allow a very few characters to represent a crowd. Ichikawa further argues that the conditions of some scenes may imply an entrance to/at the door, even if the script does not explicate that in a stage direction . She asks the auditors to consider how this staging device works in an early modern space, particularly with regards to the variant sight lines experienced by different audience members. Ichikawa points out that anyone sitting in the gallery above the stage would have no way of seeing entrances to/at the door, and that those in the galleries on the sides might have only a partial view. This would then rob those audience members of the chance to appreciate the staging convention.

Ichikawa then calls upon the OCS actors to perform four passages indicating such entrances to/at the door. In the first, from Fletcher’s The Captain, Fitpatrick and Brown are visible on-stage; Paul and Josh Innerst remain within the doorway. The second, from Fletcher and Massinger’s The Little French Lawyer, features Phelps on-stage, coming to Chris Johnston, remaining in the doorway. Both appear to be calling to more people who are off-stage and, thus, invisible. Johnston then stands in for multiple other persons. The third, from Beaumont and Fletcher’s Cupid’s Revenge, has four actors, clustered in the doorway, representing an entire crowd. Finally, from Hamlet, Phelps as Laertes enters, while his followers remain within the doorway.

Ichikawa asks if the audience is able to distinguish between polite attitude in a character remaining within the doorway and the actions of a rabble off-stage. Then she asks if presenting one or two actors in the doorway is convincing? Last, would we accept this staging device in-performance? The answers to all appear to hinge on the work the actors do both to coordinate their movements and to insinuate the presence of others off-stage.

Kelli Shermeyer, University of Virginia: “Director v. Author: Who Owns The Changeling?”

Shermeyer begins that she knows her title is potentially problematic, and she explicates that she wants to investigate whose artistic interpretation is the one that should dominate staging choices, or if perhaps a combination is necessary. She is interested in the staging of the relationship between Beatrice-Johanna and De Flores in The Changeling. She asks the actors first to work through the scene (The Changeling, 3.4) on their own, then she will offer some redirections. Johnston presents De Flores, Thomason Beatrice-Johanna. Pursued by De Flores, Beatrice-Johanna finds herself forced into a corner of the stage, eventually with no recourse but to step off of it in order to get away with him.

When the actors finish the scene, Shermeyer asks the actors what they think their motivations are. Johnston notes that, in De Flores’s world, he sees himself as attempting to convince her and as offering her a love-token. Thomason, on the other hand, feels a desire to “wrap up the deed and be done with him”. Shermeyer offers them slightly altered objectives: that De Flores is just trying to get Beatrice-Johanna to sleep with him, and that Beatrice-Johanna feels both revulsion and attraction. She moves Beatrice-Johanna to a starting position at the downstage right corner, and De Flores to up-left. A few lines in, Shermeyer asks Johnston to try it again with a more sinister tone, then specifies a stressing of the subjunctive qualifiers in his lines — “I could have hired a journeyman at this rate, and my own conscience might have slept at ease.”

Shermeyer directs and controls De Flores’s motions towards Beatrice-Johanna, giving him a specific moment to start advancing on her. She also offers Thomason the direction to “try and pull” more direct meaning out of De Flores. She also refocuses Beatrice-Johanna on De Flores by taking away one of her asides. Partway through the scene, she allows Beatrice-Johanna a moment upstage of De Flores, then has De Flores force physical intimacy on her — which she first enjoys, then breaks away from. Shermeyer notes that he should “be creepily in her space”; Thomason concurs that “that’d be good”. This allows Beatrice-Johanna to push him away disdainfully on “Why, ’tis impossible thou canst be so wicked.” Shermeyer also encourages more sarcasm through Beatrice-Johanna’s next lines, which has some payoff in De Flores’s reply: “Push, you forget yourself: A woman dipp’d in blood and talk of modesty!” Another alteration amplifies the sexual attraction element of Beatrice-Johanna’s feelings.

Shermeyer finishes by explicating her intentions. She feels that the text creates “some really awkward moments” that require a director to go in and make some alterations. She thinks that some of the typical actors’ exercises for creating backstories are useless in this play, particularly since the characters reveal themselves so often through asides, leaving little that needs to be created. She thinks this, in turn, negates the idea of a dark love story between Beatrice-Johanna and De Flores.

Q&A Session:

Q for Ichikawa: Can you clarify your thoughts on the door size? Ichikawa says she suspects our doors in the modern Playhouse may be somewhat larger than those in the original Blackfriars. Further, smaller doors might mean that only one person could stand within comfortably. Thomason agrees, saying that it would allow fewer people to represent a crowd. Baldwin puts in that, since the early modern audience was used to creating so much by hearing rather than by sight, the idea of sound off-stage representing a crowd would be an easy imaginative leap for them to make.

Q for Shermeyer, asking her to clarify if she is or is not supporting an idea of a love story. Shermeyer absolutely is not. Thornton Jr. notes that there may be something compelling about De Flores even if it isn’t “love” — and Thomason agrees. Shermeyer also brings up the idea that Beatrice-Johanna might be as young as 14, though she is never portrayed that way on-stage, and that her innocence in what her provocations might lead to can say a lot.

Blackfriars Conference 2013 — Colloquy Session XV: Critical Theory

Hello, Charlene V. Smith here again, live blogging Colloquy Session XV on Critical Theory. This session is co-chaired by Janna Segal and Donald Hedrick and the other participants are Matt Kozusko, Matt Davies, James Keegan, and Paul Menzer.

Segal opens the panel by introducing the panelists and noting that the specific topic of this panel is theoretical approaches to character and characterization in the Shakespearean canon.

James Keegan – “An Epilogue to Henry IV, Part 2: The Liminal Moment and the Actor-Character”

Keegan admits to theory fear upfront owing mostly to his experience as an actor. For this panel, Keegan continues his thoughts about the epilogue of 2 Henry IV, some of which many of us heard yesterday in a paper session. He describes the epilogue as a liminal moment between actor and character, but also liminal in space between the historical moment of the play and the moment of performance. Keegan grounds his discussion in the work of Gregory Currie who writes that film exerts “fictive dominance.” Keegan argues that a theatrical space like the Blackfriars allows for a fictive fluidity which is fuller and more gratifying for an audience than a situation in which the fiction is dominant. In the epilogue, character and actor exist at the same time to equal degrees.

Matt Kozusko

Kozusko notes that the word ‘character’ does more work than we typically think. The word is defined in multiple ways. Pointing to the paper session we just saw, Kozusko argues that Iago’s character is defined by responding to the audience, and in that way, he’s not actually changing. Kozusko argues that when we define Shakespeare’s characters, we are influenced by factors beyond Shakespeare himself. These characters are inflected with extra-Shakespearean influences and expectations that in turn become a part of the characters and how we read them. Keegan wonders about aware audiences versus unaware audiences, using the example of Falstaff’s fake death. Audiences in-the-know will read this moment with the knowledge that Falstaff is pretending to be dead. New audiences, however, react very differently, and may be honestly surprised when Falstaff stands back up.

Matt Davies – “Drawing Shakespearean characters in black and/or white: conflicting methodologies in the contemporary rehearsal room”

Davies finds that actors and directors are finding themselves adjudicating between competing conceptions of character in the rehearsal room. First, is character in its original, lexical meaning: the typeface on a page. Second, is the psychological realists who build inner life from the subtext. Davies notes that many practitioners are now trying to balance those two systems, particularly when performing Shakespeare. Drawing from his experience co-directing (with Doreen Bechtol) Pericles for the MLitt Shakespeare and Performance program, Davies looks at how we can use text and subtext in a way that will co-habit the early modern and the modern conceptions of character. He posits that maybe we should operate both systems concurrently in the rehearsal room, rather than blending them. Davies found noticeable differences in the ways students responded to the rehearsal process. Scott Campbell, who played Pericles, constructed his character from the line out, basing his work on rhetorical structuring. Amy Grubbs, who played Marina, began with a powerful super-objective which influenced the rest of her work. Davies notes that these two approaches actually fit the characters themselves, arguing that Marina has a much richer inner life than Pericles.

Janna Segal – “Whom love hath turned almost the wrong side out”: Exploring the Transversality of the Tragic Lovers in Othello

Segal’s paper looks at the relationship between Emilia, Desdemona, and Othello to demonstrate a theoretical model developed by Bryan Reynolds and others. Segal argues that the behaviors of these characters would have caused ruptures in the contemporary audience’s ideology. Shakespeare’s representation of amorous desire interrogated dominant conceptualizations of gender and sexuality. In another example, Segal argues that Jacquenetta and Don Armado are the most subversive characters of Love’s Labour’s Lost because they are the most hopeful, despite being types that aren’t supposed to end up together. Segal points out that the usefulness of this theory is that it gives characters more agency than they are usually thought of to have, an idea which actors can directly apply to the rehearsal room.

Paul Menzer – The 4th Unity

Menzer opens by defining theory as a way of organizing and answering questions. Theory is not something to be afraid of, but something of which to be aware. Over the past couple of years, Menzer has been interested in AC Bradley who haunts all questions of Shakespearean character. Bradley’s work is the most discredited scholarly work of the 20th century, but at the same time has a major influence within the rehearsal room. Menzer’s working thesis is that character is a system of organization. Character is the 4th unity (next to time, place, and action); it binds together the many elements of performance, such as costumes, properties, architecture, etc. Characters are effects created by a range of distributed meanings, rather than an agent that causes things to happen. Individual character is a mystification of theatrical effect and collaboration. It takes a lot of people to make a person on the stage.

Don Hedrick – “Fun: the Shakespearean Actor-Character and Entertainment Value”

Hendrick’s paper responds in a way to Menzer’s paper, asking what happens when that organizing principle refuses to organize? Following our focus on Falstaff, Hendrick points to his moment of playing dead as anti-theatrical: we don’t pay to watch someone sleep on stage. Hendrick is interested in the entertainment value of character and how they create multiple pleasures for the audience. How do they make the most return in the least amount of time, a successful element of wooing scenes of Lady Anne in Richard III and Katherine in Henry V? 

Blackfriars Conference 2013 — Paper Session VII

Hello, I’m Charlene V. Smith and I’ll be live blogging Paper Session VII, running from 1:00pm to 2:15pm on Friday, October 25. The moderator for this panel is Peggy O’Brien from the Folger Shakespeare Library. The panelists are joined by American Shakespeare actors Tracie Thomason, Dylan Paul, John Harrell, Benjamin Curns, and Allison Glenzer, and Whitney Egbert from the Shakespeare Forum.

Roslyn Knutson, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Everything is interesting about the lost play, ‘Gowrie’

Knutson’s first point is simple: lost plays should be a serious part of the conversation in early modern scholarship. Her paper today is specifically on ‘Gowrie‘. John Chamberlain describes ‘Gowrie’ as a tragedy, twice represented by the King’s Players, and refers to displeasure over the play due to it’s presentation of a living prince on the stage. Our knowledge of the plot of this lost play comes from the pamphlet Gowrie’s Conspiracy which describes an assassination plot on 5th August 1600 involving James VI of Scotland. During ‘Gowrie’s’ composition, London playhouses were closed due to the plague. The King’s Players may have considered the Globe, due to open in the fall, and the court as possible playing spaces for this piece. But Knutson wonders why would the newly minted King’s Men chose this risky play in 1604? The likeliest motive is a simple one: they thought the King would be flattered.

Sybille Bruun, The Shakespeare Forum, You That Way, We This Way – Letters and Possibilities in Love’s Labour’s Lost

Bruun, who directed Love’s Labour’s Lost recently in New York, investigates how a textual ambiguity has shaped the character of Costard. Bruun directed this play recently in New York. In rehearsals, the actor playing Costard asked her questions about why he does what he does. In act four, Costard delivers two letters, one from Berowne to Rosalind, and one from Don Armado to Jaquenetta. He misdelivers these letters. Why? If he can’t read, he may misdeliver the letters accidentally. He may also be able to judge the superscripts and choses to misdeliver them. Bruun also points out that Armado’s letter may have been folded differently, allowing Costard to tell the difference. One again, he could purposely give the wrong letter. Bruun, with the help of actors Curns, Glenzer, and Egbert, shows that the Princess could hand the letter to Rosalind or back to Costard after discover that the letter isn’t for Rosalind. If Costard doesn’t get the letter back, he purposely choses to give the remaining, wrong letter to Jaquenetta. This choice gives Costard agency and perhaps even some maliciousness, traits we don’t typically associate with this character. This question hinges on the Princess’ line, “Put up this; twill be thine another day.” Bruun notes that editorial tradition closes down the possibilities of this moment by noting that the Princess is giving the letter to Rosalind. While talking to actors and directors who had worked on this play in the past, Bruun discovered that it hadn’t occurred to them that there was another choice to back beyond what the edited text told them was happening in this moment. Bruun says we need a greater awareness of how the communities of academia and theatre interact with each other, and to realize that we don’t need to pigeonhole ourselves or others.

Andrew Blasenak, Emory and Henry College, “I would you were as I would have you be”: Negotiation of Character with/for/by an Interactive Audience

While in the modern theatre, audiences assume characters are set from performance to performance, at early modern re-creation theatres, audience interaction has the possibility of changing performance and character. Blasenak argues that character arises from the interaction of actor and audience and the reaction of the audience to the actor. In interviews with Blasenak, actors didn’t speak of finding character in rehearsal, but on finding “what works.” “What works” is hard to define; it is a sense of something clicking, of causing an audience’s heightened attention. The uncertainty of audience response makes acting in this style like windsurfing, according to one Globe actor. Jim Warren of the American Shakespeare Center calls this form of theatre, “improvising with a script.” Blasenak discusses some examples of audience informing character. The actor who played Edmund in a recent RSC tour of King Lear told Blasenak that he would adjust his cockiness and smoothness based on audience response. Benjamin Curns of the American Shakespeare notes that sometimes his speeches as Henry VIII were met with boos, feeding his character’s need to get the audience on his side. Blasenak next demonstrates, with the help of Curns, with Iago’s “What’s he that says I play the villain?” The first time through, we as the audience are directed to cheer and applaud Iago. The second time, we are asked to give resistance. Curns takes the audience’s attitude and changes the character and speech in response.

Hsiang-Chun Chu, National Changhua University of Education, From Cunning Fox to Libidinous Swine: Imposture and Sexual Sadism in the Wooing Scenes of Volpone

This paper discusses the wooing episodes between Volpone and Celia. Volpone is mostly confined to his bed as an old and sick man. In contrast, Volpone acquires much more energy and agency when he is cast as a lover. Volpone disguises himself as a mountebank in order to see Celia, allowing him to demonstrate his persuasive language skills in a way he is not able to when playing the sick man. In the second part of her paper, Chu looks at the sexual transaction between Volpone, Celia, and Corvino. Corvino is a possessive husband, yet Volpone convinces him to give Celia as a gift in order to secure a place in Volpone’s will. No matter how much identification an audience may have felt with Volpone, this sympathy evaporates as Volpone shifts into a lecherous swine in his attempt to win Celia.

Kate Moncrief, Washington College, “And are by child with me”: The Performance of Pregnancy in Shakespeare’s All’s Well that Ends Well 

In Alls Wells that Ends Well, Helena’s body is used as evidence that she has completed the tasks Bertram set before her, particularly that she is pregnant. Moncrief points out that Helena re-interprets Bertram’s challenges. He asks her to show a child; she instead is with child. The play’s timeline is not clear – how much time has passed since the bed trick? The play offers no physical description of Helena at this moment, leaving practitioners to decide just how pregnant Helena is. Moncrief next explores, with the help of actors Thomason, Paul, and Harrell, how this pregnancy can be performed: gestures, prosthetics, etc. In version 1 Thomason does not wear a pregnancy bump, forcing Bertram and the audience to rely on her word that she is pregnant. Paul hits the if in his line, “If she, my liege, can make me know this clearly,” expressing his doubt. The actors perform the scene again, with Paul believing the pregnancy and kissing Helena. Next, Thomason puts on the pregnancy bump and the actors play the scene twice again, one with Paul expressing doubt as Bertram and once with him truly believing her. Moncrief polls the audience, who seem to prefer the version without the pregnancy bump.

Nick Hutchison and Donald Jellerson, Royal Academy of Dramatic Art/Globe Theatre, Feste and the Performance of Character

In 2011, Hutchison directed Twelfth Night in Memphis, with Jellerson playing Feste. In this paper, with the help of Allison Glenzer, they share the discoveries they found while rehearsing. They found two questions they explored: why doesn’t Feste care for Cesario, and what is the something he care for (“Not so, sir, I do care for something; but in my conscience, sir, I do not care for you”)? Hutchison admits that after decades of dismissing character criticism, asking what a character wants can seem misguided or passé. Hutchison and Jellerson wish to demonstrate how expanding our understanding of character can involve both practitioners and literary critics. Hutchinson and Jellerson quote from a book defining character that Shakespeare might have read as a student, revealing how Shakespeare may have been trained to think of character and what conclusions we can draw from this knowledge. The book asks writers to imagine their characters in three parts: a past, present, and future, which gives them, according to Hutchison, the illusion of enduring consciousness and psychological depth for which we value Shakespeare. Hutchison suggests that possibly Feste figures out that Cesario is a woman, and is concerned that Olivia will get hurt. This choice can be reflected in the final scene based on when Feste is quoting Malvolio and when he is speaking directly to Olivia, as the punctuation is different in different versions of the text.

Wake-up Workshop: Sweet Smoke of Rhetoric

Good Morning, welcome to the 3rd Wake-up Workshop as part of the 2013 Blackfriars Conference. Run by OCS’s Academic Resources Manager Cass Morris on Friday October 25th from 8:00 to 8:45 AM. This mornings workshop was on the topic of, as you have guessed, Rhetoric.

Morris asked the the group the first question she always asks her students: “what do you think of when you hear the term rhetoric?” Some of the attendees answered with “hard, tedious, and boring”. Morris wants to shift that thinking into one of a tool people can use, not battle against. Rhetoric makes you a better reader, writer, and listener; making it an invaluable tool. Morris proceeded to hand out a paper to the group and asked them to each read one thing and pick out the rhetoric.

The first thing Morris asked is, “Why do we use repetition in life?” Some answers were, to emphasize something, make a point, to help stupid people. After having a attendee read a quote from Shakespeare. the group began to dissect the things they heard and what that could mean about the character. Morris talked about characters with many “b” sounds and “s” sounds in their speeches and how that audience could interpret things about that character. She then cited Duke Orsino from “Twelfth Night,” the many “o” sounds he uses and how it speaks to his character. Having another attendee read another quote, with repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of the sentence, this is known as anaphora.

Moving from repetition to omission, Morris began by handing out another quote “You this way, we that way.” Having two attendees then read a quote from “Othello” to show how two characters can omit together. One attendee then added that the character Iago was not only omitting but also repetition. Morris pointed out that Iago makes points in his speeches by seeming to pass of the point,known as paralepsis.

The next section Morris presented was addition; having a attendee read a bit from “Macbeth” regarding Duncan’s horses. This quote ultimately is saying the horses ran away, they were beautiful, best of the horses in Scotland, and belonged to Duncan. (In a very long way.)  The quote to follow was from Bottom talking about how they would handle the ladies of the court during their performance, as he corrects himself by addition, known as epanorthosis.

Direction is the rhetorical area to follow, having an attendee read a quote that had words in reverse order. The very next quote, “O for a muse of fire…” that shows a reverse build. To make the last thought the biggest thought, though Morris asked what happens when you reverse the reverse, starting big a descending as you proceed. Antithesis is shown in the next quote from the Witches in “Macbeth.”

Morris, for time sake, moved to Substitution; having the quote by Charles to Joan read by an attendee. Personification substitution from a quote by Juliet shows how she is imaginative (as noted by an attendee). “Ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man.” showing the pun to be a form of substitution.  Showing then how substituting verbs can show high class or intelligence when used correctly or low class when used incorrectly, Cleopatra vs Dogberry.

Leaving the group with some recommended texts, Putnam, Scott Kaiser, Richard Lanham, and silva rhetorica, Morris ended the 3rd Wake-up Workshop.

Blackfriars Conference 2013 — Keynote with Ann Thompson

Good morning!  Whitney Egbert here again to live blog our third keynote speech of the week with Ann Thompson from King’s College London.  The title of her presentation is ‘Now this is the place where you can bring in Cleopatra’s horse’: Editing Shakespeare for the Stage.

Dr. Ralph Cohen introduces Ann Thompson as an English Professor at King’s College London, head of the London Center of Shakespeare, and the general editor for the Arden series of Shakepeare’s plays, amongst many other amazing accomplishments.  May I be her when I grow up?

Thompson begins by reminding us all that today is Crispin’s day – a great reminder and a wonderfully timed moment.

Thompson is going to be talking today about her experience as the general editor for the Arden series – a role where she oversees the editors of specific plays.

Thompson’s first example is from the Royal Shakespeare Company’s All’s Well That End’s Well from last month where the first stage direction was the entrance of several characters in black – but how long do they stay in black?  This provides an opportunity for the editor to not intervene by change the stage direction but by noting the options.  Thompson’s second example is at the end of Othello where Emilia asks to be laid by her mistress, a stage direction often ignored in production so that the end picture is two on the bed rather than three.

But where, Thompson asks, do the stage directions come from?  Many editors insist they can make changes to those that are already there because they were added by other previous editors.  Thompson asserts, however, that rather than continuing to make arbitrary choices, editors should be providing performers and readers with the options, instead of making the choice for them.

Editors, Thompson says, do need to be decisive about entrances and exits, especially about when it comes to those who are present silently.  She gives us several examples including Ophelia in Hamlet and a moment in Troilus and Cressida.

Thompson goes on to give much credit to George Walton Williams IV (our honored guest), who has participated in editing eight of Arden’s series and is continuing to contribute to three more in the works.  What does this man not do??!!  Thompson goes on to site articles written by Williams about entrances and exits where he encourages editors to not feel like they are infringing on the director, as long as the notes are given below that describe the choice.

Thompson describes her work Romeo and Juliet, which comes out soon from the Arden series, and for which she served as a contributing editor and expresses the thought that someone, Thompson suggests Arden, should keep the notes that are exchanged between a group of editors as they may prove interesting for future researchers.  Thompson then remarks again how a General Editor walks a fine line between editor for the series and moving into the dangerous world of being seen as a teacher who gives too many notes.

The antidotes about Williams which Thompson is using to give examples of moments of interest as a General Editor are rather entertaining – there is a note somewhere in reference to a Benvolio line about education.  Thompson brings it back to staging, specifically about how many people might be needed in certain scenes, whether or not Romeo and Juliet dance during the party – “SAINTS DO NOT MOVE” she quotes from his notes, and some furniture moments in other scenes.

Thompson keeps coming back to the idea of an editor’s conflict in not directing too much via their edits – their goal is to create a text as true to the original as possible but they have a version of the show running through their mind as they edit so they often fear the influence of that version on their product.

Now to Cleopatra’s horse – no, there is no entrance of a horse in the early stage.  But Thompson’s title relates to a note an editor wanted to insert in the early part of the Queen Mab scene where Romeo is struggling under the weight of love, a connection being made to a moment in Antony and Cleopatra where love is given weight, as heavy as Cleopatra’s horse or something like that.  Thompson takes a moment to discuss how many moments, especially about sex, might, for many editors, feel as inappropriate as bringing a horse on to the stage in the moment in Antony and Cleopatra.  Using certain words or certain sexual happenings in play can create a land mine for editors, readers, and teachers.  Apparently Williams suggested to the editor that the horse note, and it’s relation to women on top, might be better suited for the moment when Queen Mab lays women on thier back teaches them how to bear.

Thompson ends her presentation by talking about collaborative editing, the friendships created over the 5-10 years it might take to create new edition for the Arden series.  And yes, Thompson confirms, that they are already talking about the Arden 4th series.

Colloquy Session IX: Construction of Identity/Self

Ashley Pierce here with the 9th session of colloquies for the 2013 Blackfriars Conference on Thursday October 24th from 3:30 to 4:45 PM on the topic of “Construction of Identity/Self.” The presenters for this session are Katherine Schaap Williams, Richard Waugaman, and James Rizzi and chaired by Whitney Egbert.

Tis Somewhat Hard When Kings Must Go by James Rizzi

James RIzzi’s paper involved the relationship between Gaveston and King Edward in Marlowe’s play “Edward II”. He cites moments in the play;, such as the opening scene with Gaveston and Edward as well as between Gaveston and the Bishop of Coventry.  Rizzi discovers that Edward is defining and discovering himself through Gaveston, even though there are other characters throughout the play that he should or could use in this manner.He further states that the reason why this phenomena is happening in such a manner is because it is a non-imposed relationship. He spoke about the moment in which the two men exchange portraits, which is later revealed that Edward in the end of the play still has this portrait and seems to hold it in high regard.

Performing Ill by Katherine Schaap Williams

This paper deals with actors who are to portray sickness on the stage. While looking at Jonson’s play “Volpone” for example, She says that for this character the original idea of “sickness” is fake; mainly a means for the character to obtain gold and riches. Later in the play, during the first trial scene, Volpone’s body is used to show his sickness in an attempt to prove the truth behind his lies. Williams suggests that the real crisis in the play is not how the body looks but how in the scene following the trial his fake disease has started to become a reality. Volpone ultimately toubles the lines in the epilogue in particular, between reality, fake, character, actor, and play.

A Psychoanalytical Perspective on the Character of Coriolanus: The ‘Hen’ is MIghtier than the Sword by Richard Waugaman (Coriolanus-Blackfriars 2013)

Waugaman talks about how there are three psychoanalytical moments within Shakespeare’s “Coriolanus.” Though for this paper he speaks about the idea of how Coriolanus’s mother makes mention of “if I were Coriolanus’s wife…”, thus dealing with the Oedipal complex. Citing moments in act five when Coriolanus is confronted with his family as he plots to destroy Rome, Waugaman shows how this gives us sight into Coriolanus’s psyche and self created fantasies.He further says that Coriolanus’ mother has programmed her son in such a way that she knows how to manipulate and control him through his mind.  Moving to talk about how we much pause and take time to ponder what has happened to Coriolanus’s father and how that shapes the character in regards to Coriolanus’ back story.