Blackfriars Conference 2013 — Folger Digital Texts

I’m Charlene V. Smith and I’m live blogging Saturday’s Lunch and Learn Session featuring a website demonstration by Michael Poston and Rebecca Niles of the Folger Digital Texts.

Niles opens the presentation by describing the basics of the Folger Digital Texts. FDT are XML-encoded versions of the Folger Shakespeare Library Editions. They are a free and reliable resource, professionally edited by Paul Werstine and Barbara Mowat. The XML infrastructure means that every word, space, and punctuation mark has its own identifier within the code. Currently this project has published online the play-texts of fifteen plays. They can be read online or copied and pasted for offline use. All of the source code is also available for download.

From the website you can download the code as well as documentation about how the code works. An audience members asks what the benefit of downloading the code would be, instead of the regular text. Niles explains that the code has information embedded which you can alter if you need to. For example, you could run a code that pulls out all of Romeo’s speeches.

While in the play menu section of the website, you can search through the text, make comparisons, or read an individual play. When you call up a play, the left side of the screen displays a table of contents, allowing for quick moving around. You can also skip to a particular act, scene, and line number. These texts are also coded with Through Line Numbering. Every navigation choice you make reloads a new URL. This feature is a powerful help, as you can save a URL to a particular line or speech. For example, here is Juliet’s most famous line. Niles notes, in response to audience questions, that they would like to move towards a more sophisticated search function. Because they were adding one text at a time, and thus there wasn’t much information to search through at first, such a search function wasn’t a high priority initially.

Poston next takes over the presentation to talk about the future of FDT and the implications of this coding project. Poston tells us about the F21 project, a project designed to enhance the EEBO coding of early modern drama in order to make hundreds of new plays readily available. He displays an example of Massacre at Paris. For this play, like many others, we don’t have a clean, edited text to start with, unlike the plays by Shakespeare. Poston has also been working on an API for FDT, which allows you to interact with the text on a single word basis, calling up information on whether there are alternate readings, where the word is located in a text, and who speaks the word. The API also can identify what characters are on stage during a particular line, and what characters are included in a particular stage direction. This information can be placed into chart form. This feature is currently a work in progress. The audience is excited by the possibilities for doubling charts this feature could have.

They are also developing textual notes which would display the Folger’s punctuation versus Folio punctuation, and other such textual variants. Poston tells the audience that they are still working on how to make this information accessible, while remaining a readable text. They also intend to create an annotation environment which can link information, sound, video, and pictures to specific words or moments in the text.

Poston and Niles discuss the issues and questions they’ve struggled with while developing FDT. Print allows you to be ambiguous in a way that coding does not. In coding the character is either onstage or he is offstage. Poston points out a moment in Shrew in which servants enter – Which servants? How many? Which servant is the one that Petruchio hits? Which servant is the first one to exit? Which servant is Nathaniel and which is Peter? How do you code ambiguity? Poston has come up with a decimal system that allows you to put in what you know, but leave in other possibilities. Messengers.x.1 could be the same as Messengers.x.2, but doesn’t have to be. Macbeth has 3 murders, but also moments where a murderer is non-specified. These would be coded as Murderers.1, Murderers.2, Murderers.3, and then Murderers.x, which could be either 1, 2, or 3.

This coding also allows for the creation of parts (cue scripts) that includes the pertinent stage directions. These are still a work in progress and unpolished. So though some of them are published to the internet, they are not yet readily available from the main webpage. They are also developing WIT scripts (for witness) that would display the scenes in which a certain character is present.

The challenge they are facing is adding functionality to the website without being theatrically or textually prescriptive.

Blackfriars Conference 2013 — Abigail Rokison Keynote

To continue on …

Whitney Egbert here again live blogging the final keynote session of the Blackfriars conference which will run from 10:30am to 11:15am this morning.  Abigail Rokison of The Shakespeare Institute will be giving a presentation entitled Shakespeare Verse Speaking: The Actor and the Text.  Rokison will be assisted by actors Daniel Kennedy, Mark Tucker, Miriam Donald Burrows, and Daniel Burrows.

Paul Menzer introduces Abigail Rokison as a new friend whom he discovered through her work on Shakespeare’s verse and working with actors on and in the verse (as an actor, teacher, and scholar herself).

Rokison starts by siting Peter Hall – “Shakespeare tells the actor when to go fast and when to go slow …” and how, when a director gave her similar advice while playing Isabella in Measure for Measure, she felt like she (Rokison) had struck gold.  She started to investigate other actors work on the role of Isabella and found that their rehearsal room was not the only one digging into the verse for clues.

Rokison then started to move into researching the use of verse, verse structure, and the “rules” of meter as an academic – she points out that she wanted to take it out of the rehearsal room so that the “rules” wouldn’t limit the choices that she believes  the rehearsal room should maintain.  Rokison focuses, for a moment, on broken and shared lines – the speed at which they might be delivered, that an actor should count the missing beats in their head to maintain the speed, etc.

Rokison wants to focus on how actors might look at text and the verse work that then ensues – she specifically is looking at the difference between quarto printings and the folio printings – were the folio line divisions that differ from the quarto division on purpose or simply because the columns in which the folio were printed were narrower?  She uses a series of examples where which script a production is using allows for different choices to be made as the director and actor interpret the line divisions.  Rokison continues by talking about more modern editors versions of the scripts: starting the use of the indentation to indicate a continuation of the same line, and how shared lines are indicated, either by leaving it as all at the same indentation (or lack thereof) and therefore giving the actors the choice of what is shared or by indenting it for them to show what is shared.

Rokison points out that renaissance actors would not have been able to know about shared lines – when given just the cue of the actor before you, you would not know how many beats their lines were and therefore if you were sharing or starting a new verse line.  BUT OF COURSE! Why had I never thought of that before?  I’m not sure it will change my work but will definitely give me a freer sense, I think, when looking at shared lines.

Rokison brings up three of our actors to read a piece from Richard II, the first time counting the extra beats many current practitioners use and as Patsy Rodenburg teaches.  The second time the actors read through the scene, they just keep things going, without the extra beats but with quick pickups.  Her second scene example is from Winter’s Tale, running through the same exercise with the extra beats after different lines based on different editing.  The execution of these exercises is a wonderful illumination of Rokinson’s points about director and actor choices based on the editor choices.  She concludes with a call, as many speakers over the week have, to have more dialogue between practioners and editors so that we can each better understand the choices made and the consequences of such choices.  It is a beautiful, unexpected theme for our week in my opinion.

Globe symposium – Macbeth – handout

Globe symposium – Macbeth – Powerpoint

Blackfriars Conference 2013 — Paper session IX

Good morning everyone!  Whitney Egbert here again to blog our ninth paper session running this morning from 9:00am to 10:15am.  Our session is being moderated by Sean Hagerty from New York Classical Theatre (he has stepped in for Kevin Costa, who was unable to make it this morning) and assisted by Mary Baldwin College MLitt/MFA students Julia Nelson, Danielle Guy and Jessica Schiermeister.

Janelle Jenstad, University of Victoria/Map of Early Modern London/Internet Shakespeare Editions
The Place of Blackfriars in Early Modern London

Janelle Jenstad is going to walk us through her map of the early modern London project, which she has been working on for 13 years.  Jenstad is debuting the new version of the site here with us at the Blackfriars.

Jenstad was enchanted by London upon her first visit and wanted to give people the chance to explore what it would have been like in the past as well as the present.  The project is a place where people can see maps, encyclopedic entries about locations and business (mainly bars it sounds like), and census data about people – she shared a wonderful picture of part of the team seeing 25,000 lines of code going live in the person database.

Jenstad, knowing she was coming here, focused in on the Blackfriars.  She showed us how the wall of London got moved so that the Blackfriars was inside the wall (explaining the jog in the wall) and how the traffic patterns led into the Blackfriars.  She ended by calling for future partners to add information and entries to the site.

Christina Gutierrez, University of Texas at Austin
“Our Lives and All are Bolingbroke’s”: Directing the Double in Richard II

Christina Gutierrez is going to talk about actor doubling using Richard II and the roles of Richard and Henry Bolingbroke and the character formation of the two roles.  Gutierrez starts by talking about Ralph Barry’s conversations on doubling and how one actor, in Richard II, might live the fall of Richard and than OCSension of Henry.

Gutierrez directed the show in Austin using two actors to play the two parts but used a coin toss at the beginning of the show to choose which actor would play which role.  Gutierrez uses our three actors to show the opening prologue (delivered by Gaunt) Gutierrez and her team wrote for the show where the coin is tossed and the king crowned.  This gave Gutierrez the chance, as a director, to really examine the actors transformation into the character, as the two actors were then immediately dressed, Richard onstage, as the play began.

Gutierrez continues to show us the similarities and differences between the two characters and how the play (in her production as well as others) brings out the idea that kingship is its own character, waiting for an actor to put it on – it is an identity waiting to be fulfilled.

William Rampone, South Carolina State University
Rites, Rituals, and Redemption at the Funeral Monument in Much Ado About Nothing

William Rampone will be talking about the short scene at Hero’s grave in Much Ado About Nothing (hereafter Much Ado).  Rampone says that while most editors assign the lines of the epitaph to Claudio, there is confusion over who then continues the rest of the lines – Don Pedro, Balthazar, ensemble choruses, Claudio?

Rampone continues by siting several different opinions on the matter which seems to have culminated in the Arden series where the editors stated that while it might be unusual for a lord, it seemed appropriate for Claudio giving the circumstance.  However there is some opinion, including that of Rampone, that sees it as a possibility (obvious or maybe vague) that Balthazar sings the lines.  Rampone states that the third edition of Arden goes back to assigning the lines to Claudio.  Rampone ends by giving differing examples from film editions as well.  Basically, Rampone ends, there is still no decisive assigning.

James Marino, Cleveland State University
Revision Techniques in the Working Playhouse

James Marino will be talking about changes in the lines of specific parts between textual versions.  Marino talks about several of the reasons why this might happen and how – most interestingly to me, the idea that editors might change one scene but not others: Marino’s example of Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet and how some of his lines in some scenes change while other scenes are exactly the same makes me want to go see what exactly is different and where.

Marino states that the actual changes are possibly inconsequential in themselves (Romeo saying “stir” or “move”) but that the cue change might cause a larger change in the scene – cueing a different response from the same character or, in a different example for Romeo, cueing an entirely different character to respond.

As an actor who looks at different versions, I had not thought about looking at the textual changes around my own text and how it changes my own choices or cues – thank you Mr. Marino for that!

Denise Walen, Vassar College
Dethroning Margaret

Denise Walen will be talking about Margaret of Anjou, a unique character, starting from the fact that she is in four of the plays.  Walen starts by talking about her role in Richard III – a play from which she is often cut in stagings.  Margaret was first removed in the 1800’s and the first time she was put back in, it was only for 2 performances in one scene, went poorly and she was taken back out.  In the mid-1800’s she was added back in two different productions by the same director and the actresses were lauded for their work.  However, when the director went in for a third production of the show, he cut her back out, some saying because he could not find an actress able to do the part justice.

Walen sites that as we moved into the 20th century, Margaret was added back in more and more but was still excluded from some of the most famous productions and that the choice to cut her continues to be somewhat of a norm in productions.

Walen sites that Margaret is the antagonist to Richard and without her there, Richard just gets to walk right through the end of the play, whereas with her there, the end of the play becomes her’s rather than Richard’s play.

I hope I get a chance to speak with Walen later as I personally have strong opinions about Margaret’s presence, if for no other reason than getting, as a woman, the chance to live the full life story of a character across so many plays and in so many different parts of her life.

Don Weingust, Southern Utah University/Utah Shakespeare Festival
Shakespeare and Original Practices

Don Weingust will be talking about original practices, including staging, lighting, rehearsals, and the repertory schedule, spending most of his time on the repertory schedule.  Weingust’s point about repertory schedule is that doing 40 shows in one season might be rather impossible (not just because of Actor’s Equity rules) for modern actors (between lines and differing cues) and, especially, for the producing companies.

Weingust talks about how, rather quickly, actors attempting such a feat would have to change their routines and practices, having to live much more in the moment and spending much more time working on their own outside of their work hours as this type of schedule would leave very little time for direction.

Weingust spends some time  talking about how the changes that got us from these practices to our current practices can also be seen in the changes in theatre construction – the transitions around the proscenium arches, the expansion of the playing space in The Rose and The Globe, etc.

How, Weingust asks, can we think that we are seeing the same shows when the conditions of the schedule alone would lead to such difference in performance.  Weingust closes by suggesting theatre takes the term “historically informed” from the music world rather than saying that we are living in the original practices.

I would love to hear what some of the OCS actors and Dr. Ralph Allen Cohen had to say about this subject.

Wake-Up Workshop #4: Asides and Audience Contact

A fine Saturday morning to you all. Cass Morris here from 8-8:45am to liveblog the fourth and final Wake-Up Workshop of the 4th Blackfriars Conference. Sarah Enloe, the OCS’s Director of Education, will be presenting on Asides and Audience Contact.

Enloe begins by discussing how, as a high school teacher participating in an NEH Institute, she learned about the OCS’s methods of audience contact, and knew immediately that she wanted to use it in her classroom — but wasn’t sure how to implement the ideas effectively. OCS Education, with the help of OCS Actor Ben Curns, developed this method to help teachers think through the various approaches and opportunities.

Enloe asks if anyone knows when the word “aside”, as we currently think of it, first appears, and when no one does, she explains that it’s more than 150 years after Shakespeare’s time. The term appears only twice in Shakespeare, and never with that precise meaning. She prefaces that the group will explain the different kinds of asides that Curns helped OCS Education identify, and will then work through a scene together to identify character choices.

The first method of audience contact is casting the audience. Enloe gives examples of the audience serving as Henry V’s army, as the plebs of Rome, or as Portia’s suitors in The  Merchant of Venice. She points out how Shakespeare not only writes these opportunities into the plays, he also writes in opportunities to return to that audience reference later in the scene or the play. Casting the audience gives the audience member a specific role inside the world of the play.

The second way that we identify audience contact is that of the visual aide. Enloe notes that this can be a difficult distinction for students sometimes, as it has some similarities to casting. The difference is that, rather than bestowing an identity, the visual aide uses something that the audience member already is — generally a physical attribute, something they’re wearing, or something else essential to their own identities, used as an illustration. Enloe uses the example of perhaps casting a man and woman sitting next to each other as an adulterous couple. Auditor Michael Hendry notes that he has been the bald-pated man used as an example in The Comedy of Errors. Enloe notes the favorite example of her co-worker (yours truly): Benedick’s “One woman is fair, yet I am well; another is wise, yet I am well; another is…. virtuous… yet I am well,” with the actor picking out a fair and wise woman, but unable to find a virtuous one in the audience.

The third example, which Enloe notes as particularly obvious in characters like Iago and Richard III, is that of allying with the audience. Many characters who get a lot of time alone on-stage with the audience use this to get the audience on their side — and quite often, those characters are the villains. This can also be an example of the character letting the audience in on a secret or providing them with clarifying information.

The fourth way that Enloe identifies audience contact is seeking information. Enloe gives an example of Curns as Polonius in the OCS’s 2011 Hamlet asking an audience member, “By the mass, what was I about to say?” and notes that Curns often got two examples: the terror of “eighth-graders frozen in the headlights”, or the graduate students able to provide the correct answer. She gives another example from Hamlet (this time the Q1, when Curns was playing Hamlet), from the moment when Claudius is on his knees praying, and Hamlet enters, asking, “Should I kill him now?” When Curns took this to teenage boy sitting on a gallant school, the boy replied, “Absolutely, he must die”. In that moment, the actor discovers that Shakespeare in fact wrote in the answer to that question in the rest of the monologue.

Enloe then addresses the probability that someone in the audience is asking how we know that Shakespeare really did write these opportunities into the plays intentionally, and she uses an example from Henry VI, Part 1 to illustrate how, in that early play, Shakespeare actually pokes fun of the convention of audience contact in a conversation between Margaret and Suffolk. Enloe notes that as proof in the text that Shakespeare is thinking about that convention.

Enloe then discusses the possibility that almost any line could be taken to the audience — but that not all of them should be. She suggests letting students go all-out with every possibility at first, then reining them back in so that we don’t lose the connections between the characters. The group then discusses some of the challenges in audience contact, including how to deal with unexpected contributions from the audience. Enloe notes that some of our actors acknowledge everything, and uses the example of Gregory Jon Phelps responding to sneezes or particularly loud laughs.

Moving on to scenework, Enloe hands out the first fifty lines of Julius Caesar. Enloe explains that this worksheet has the four types of audience contact listed at the top, along with the fifth option of actually speaking to a scene partner. Enloe divides the room into three groups, assigning one group responsibility for Flavius, one for the Carpenter and Cobbler, and one for Murellus. She then gives the auditors a few minutes to work through the text, assigning modes of audience contact to each moment for each character.

Each group sends an avatar to the stage to walk through the scene. Enloe notes that the opening stage direction, Enter Flavius and Murellus and Certain Commoners over the stage, is a little odd and cites Dessen & Thomson’s Dictionary of Stage Directions as to what “over the stage” might mean. They take the first suggestion for the Carpenter and Cobbler to enter from the back, through the audience, though Enloe notes that we generally don’t allow that in our Playhouse since there is no evidence of it occurring in the period.

The first decision has the Flavius taking all of “Hence! home, you idle creatures get you home: / Is this a holiday? what! know you not, / Being mechanical, you ought not walk / Upon a labouring day without the sign / Of your profession? Speak, what trade art thou?” to the audience. The group discusses whether the final question, answered in the play, can appropriately be asked of an audience member. Enloe notes that, at Julius Caesar‘s first performance at the Theatre or the Globe, the audience would in fact have been full of idle creatures who were skivving off work. The group has, sadly, run out of time to run the rest of the scene, but Enloe notes that you can see, through just that little bit, how much audience contact can change the play.

Colloquy XII: Staged and Unstaged Binaries/Evil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plenary Session VIII – Blackfriars Conference 2013

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

Paper Session VIII
Moderator: Rene Thornton Jr.

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

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

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

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

Martin-Reynolds:
Audiences have a 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Colloquy Session X: Big Woo

Chair: Nicolas Crawford

Title Big Woo attempt at humor

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

Wooing sometimes becomes something else.

How do we identify a woo element?

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

Theater itself woos audiences.

To move or solicit alluringly.

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

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

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

A scene that is not obviously a wooing.

Presenters:

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

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

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

Thomas Sellari

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

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

Joseph Stepheson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bridget Rue  – Kate, Patrick Midgley Petrucchio, – Baptista

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

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

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

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

Winters Tale

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

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

Othello

Blunt- Iago Lamberty – Othello

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

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

Stepheson: Same language as Claudio to Hero.

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

Stepheson: Othello says “Now are thou my lieutenant”

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

As You Like It

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

Very interesting to see it with all male actors

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

Amy Simpson Grubs Do the names change anything?

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

Blunt: Celia realizes what is going on.

Stepheson: In the play they’re really married.

Nicolas Crawford ended session for time.

Touring troupe acting scenes

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