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–Lunch and Learn Session: The World Shakespeare Project

Good afternoon! Sarah Martin here in the Blackfriars Playhouse to liveblog the second Lunch and Learn Session of the Conference. Today’s session about The World Shakespeare Project features presenters Sheila Cavanaugh from Emory University and Kevin Quarmby from Oxford College, Emory University. The title of today’s session is “It is a Novelty to the World”: The World Shakespeare Project in a Global Context.

The World Shakespeare Project links Oxford, Georgia and Atlanta, Georgia so that students at both of Emory University’s campuses can can hold digital classes and group projects via Skype. Cavanaugh and Quarmby give examples of students sharing sonnets on separate campuses  and joint classes as far apart as London and Argentina.

Cavanaugh lends her iPad to Emory professor Paul Peterson who explains how the internet connection between the different locations works. He shows students the maps of the different internet cables that are beneath the world’s oceans and how they literally connect the classrooms across the world.

Cavanaugh and Quarmby also reach out to the world’s classrooms outside of the confines of Shakespeare. Cavanaugh explains that they connected with a classroom in Casablanca who did not have an anglo-centric curriculum and were able to adapt their English literature emphasis to French. Quarmby provides an anecdote of the Morrocan students’ views of fairies in A Midsummer Night’s Dream as dangerous versus our Western views of fairies as magical and harmless and how this sparked other conversations between the students and provided a forum for cultural exchange.

Cavanaugh explains that non-native English speakers “are incredibly attentive to meaning” and Quarmby says that their Argentinean students “had an appreciation for the beauty of language”.  The international students’ attention to the nuances of the language helped American students find moments and meaning in the text that they might have missed out on otherwise.

The project has gone to India, Morrocco, and countries in South America. Cavanaugh explains that students in Argentina and Brazil are only one hour away from her American students in terms of the time difference so they can hold joint classes during traditional school hours. Cavanaugh’s travels to India have been both rewarding and potentially perilous. She said that each time she has traveled to India, she has been given twelve armed guards. Cavanaugh and Quarmby are quick to explain that they do not intend to patronize third world and war torn regions, but rather to highlight the similarities between the seemingly disparate cultures of the United States and nations thousands of miles away.

Cavanaugh and Quarmby use popular video chat program Skype to facilitate their virtual classes. Quarmby says that one university that they visited in Casablanca received government funding as a result of their project and now boasts video conferencing suites and a theatre with complete internet access.

The World Shakespeare Project  has  been able to conduct virtual sessions with Internet Shakespeare Editions and the Folger Library in Washington, DC.

The project’s classes are three and a half hours every day to provide students with a full semester’s worth of classes in three and a half weeks and often include exciting moments of cultural exchange. Stephen Unwin of the Rose Theatre  Kingston in London  directed Emory students from his theatre in the UK.  During one class meeting between Macbeth director Tom Magill in Belfast, students in Argentina, and students in Atlanta a unique moment of cultural exchange that might have been impossible previously. When the discussion turned to the common comparison of Lady Macbeth to popular political figures only two weeks after the death of Margaret Thatcher, students in Northern Ireland and Argentina were able to describe the impact of such a comparison from each of their perspectives to American students.

Salman Rushdie visited Emory in a particularly special moment for the Project and even performed Iago for that day’s class.

Cavanaugh concludes by stating that the ultimate goal of the Project is to “use Shakespeare as conduit” to bring together local traditions with the classic texts. For more information about this fOCSinating initiative, visit http://www.worldshakespeareproject.org.

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.

Blackfriars Conference 2013–Paper Session #6

Happy Friday, everyone! Sarah Martin back here in the beautiful Blackfriars Playhouse to liveblog Paper Sesion #6 of the conference. This session’s moderator is Betsy Craig of Grove City College and features papers from Katherine Cleland, Brian Chalk, Jessica Schiermeister, Antonia Forster, Danielle Rosvally, Deb Struesand, and Travis Curtright.

Katherine Cleland, Virginia Tech

“This woman’s of my counsel”: Clandestine Marriage and the Politics of Female alliance in John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi

Cleland begins her presentation with a summary of the fOCSination that scholars have with Cariola’s relationship with the Duchess in The Duchess of Malfi. Cleland notes that scholarship has neglected the complex relationship between the two women. She examines their relationship through a political lens. As witnesses were not required to legitimize early modern marriages, many clandestine marriages were difficult to prove and “morally suspect”. Cleland points to the fact that the clergy were outspoken opponents of such secret marriages as evidence of the risk of clandestine marriage. Cleland states that the Duchess’s marriage  is inevitably political and that the Duchess uses Cariola’s presence at the marriage to legitimize her otherwise incredibly risky union. Cleland argues that the Duchess’s use of the word “counsel” when she says, “this woman’s of my counsel” in reference to Cariola elevates the maidservant to the position of legal counsel. Cleland references the OCS Touring Troupe’s recent production of the play in which the stage configuration of the Duchess, Antonio, and Cariola made Cariola look like the officiator at the wedding, underscoring Cariola’s role in legitimizing the marriage. Cleland notes that Cariola is reluctant to be complicit in the clandestine marriage, but has no choice because of her low social status. Cleland argues that the relationship between the Duchess and Cariola is “exploitative” as the Duchess’s actions condemn Cariola to death. The legal power of the female alliance is solidified When the Duchess and Antonio’s son is named the next Duke at the end of the play.

Brian Chalk, Manhattan College

Fletcher’s Future: Dividing Posterity in Henry VIII

Chalk argues that Henry VIII demonstrates that posterity is  the product of collaborative action–whether that posterity is the issue of the title character, or the text itself. Henry VIII is included in the 1623 First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays, but scholars agree that the play was a collaborative work between Shakespeare and John Fletcher. Chalk notes that Henry destroys the lives of others because of his lack of posterity in personage of a son. The end of the play, which features a prophecy about a phoenix, links Elizabeth with James I. Chalk argues that “in death, Elizabeth produces the male heir she could not in real life”. Henry’s posterity is not only his biological children, but an outsider–Elizabeth’s cousin. Chalk argues that the Tudor name culminates in the Stuart dynasty, noting that Henry’s posterity is the product of two names, just as the play is itself. Fletcher, Chalk claims, cared about the afterlife of his works and understood that the collaborative nature of posterity was essential to his success.

Jessica Schiermeister, Mary Baldwin College

“Youth in Petticoats”: The Early Modern Boy Actor, the All-Male Stage, and Female Performance

Scheirmeister argues that the long-held assumption that women were not allowed on the early modern English stage is incorrect. She notes that women were involved in guilds and that guild-members took part in the staging of small plays. Women performed in Mountebank productions as musicians, acrobats, and even actresses. Scheirmeister gives an example of such an actress, “Vittoria”, who was so popular, she had to have bodyguards accompany her home. Foreign troupes that had actresses also performed in England. Scheirmeister argues Queen Anna of Denmark acted in a mask and Queen Henrietta Maria gave instruction for such masks. Moll Frith could perform onstage because she dressed as a man, Scheirmeister argues. She notes that in Henslowe’s Diary, women are listed as pawnbrokers–very much a part of the commercial theatre world. Scheirmeiser argues that women had a commercial interest in theatre itself. Scheirmeister argues that the reason women were not employed as actresses because of the apprentice system in early modern England. Companies hired theatre apprentices, boys, to play the female roles in their plays. Scheirmeister argues that the lack of women on the early modern English stage was a “product of convenience, rather than ideology.”

Antonia Forster, University of Akron

Another History Play

Actors: Stephanie Holladay Earl, Patrick Earl, and Fernando Lamberty

Forster asks OCS Touring Troupe actor Stephanie Holladay Earl to perform a section of a history play. She first delivers a monologue alone and then is joined by actors Patrick Earl and Fernando Lamberty who inform her that the queen of the play is dead. The scene takes place in the middle of a battle. Forster notes that, in 1795, forged letters between Shakespeare and Elizabeth I and a copy of King Lear and another unnamed play were discovered and circulated. Samuel Ireland who discovered the forged letters and the play, known as Vortigern and Rowena, claimed that it is Shakespeare’s until his son, William Henry Ireland, admitted the forgery. The scandal surrounding the play’s discovery led to a performance in London. Audiences did not respond positively to the play and it had to stop mid-performance. Forster notes that London newspapers lambasted the play and detailed the audience’s disdain for the play. Forster argues that Vortigern and Rowena was dismissed in performance because of the scandal of its forged origins.

Danielle Rosvally, Tufts University Department of Dance and Drama

“Off With His Head!”…so much for Hewlett/Brown; The African Grove Theatre Presents Richard III

Rosvally gives a history of the first African American theatre company who performed for an African American audience: The African Grove Theatre. Their 1820 production of Richard III led to their arrest in New York City. Authorities even made the company members swear that they would never again perform Shakespeare. Rosvally gives examples of what The African Grove Theatre’s performance space may have looked like. She notes that Richard III was uniquely suited to their small performance space because the play does not require many set pieces. Rosvally provides brief biographies of the principle actors in the company and also describes the appearance of their costumes. She describes the acting style of the company and references reviews that claim the acting was “intense and intimate”.  The performance had one actress act each of the female parts in the play. Rosvally argues that the director, William Brown,  significantly cut the text to allow such doubling. She claims that the text would have been around 13,500 words and would have taken about 90 minutes to perform and would not need an intermission. Rosvally concludes by asking theatre historians to learn more about William Brown’s company and their significance in the American theatre history narrative.

Deb Streusand, University of Texas at Austin

“Pardon, gentles all”: Performing the Meta-theatrical.

Actors: OCS Touring Troupe members Patrick Midgley and Patrick Earl

Streusand discusses how metatheatricality operates in performance. She argues that the most difficult moment of metatheatricality for an actor is a textually-mandated direct reference. Streusand states that using humor can help an actor overcome this difficulty. She gives an example from the 2011 Blackfriars Conference. OCS actor Patrick Midgley performed a section of a speech from Henry  V while Streusand played a Western theme on a melodica. She argues that using the audience’s modern shared film reference helps the audience envision the horses that Midgley spoke about. The humor, she argues, “conveyed the significance of the reference”. Streusand also talks about the “metaphor of performance”. Streusand also references  the 2012 OCS production of Julius Caesar’s preshow. OCS actors Patrick Earl and Patrick Midgley took to the stage and sang “Clap Your Hands” and invited the audience to participate. Streusand argues that the actors “primed the audience”to become involved in the performance. She states that the textually-mandated direct reference alienates the audience more than the performance metaphor, but that both use humor to engage the audience in the moment of metatheatricality. Both methods use extratextual elements in order create that humor which should, “enhance the audience’s understanding of that reference”.  Streusand argues that such humor should be used in different ways by different companies and admits that the Blackfriars (with its thrust-staging and universal lighting) may have an advantage in such practice.

Travis Curtright, Ave Maria University

Kate’s Obedience Speech as an Exercise in Declamation

Curtright argues that the obedience speech at the end of The Taming of the Shrew represents a schoolboy’s successful understanding of the use of rhetoric in the early modern humanist education system rather than the defeat or “taming” of Kate. He argues that Shakespeare was familiar with the grammar school exercise of declamation and made references to it in several of his plays. Curtright notes that early modern grammar schools were dedicated to the “marriage of Classical rhetoric to Pauline Christianity”, and that Kate ironizes the curriculum of the grammar school, Richard Brinsley’s recommendations for declamations, and the overall obedience theme. Curtwright argues that Kate “uses rhetoric’s art to alter or expand the terms of Petruchio’s argumentum” and that, in doing so, she was able “re-describe and appropriate the moral content Brinsley’s method takes for granted.”  Hence, “actors who play Hortensio, Lucentio, and Petruchio must choose how to respond to these lines, from cheering Kate on to playing some recognition of irony.”

Plenary Session V – Blackfriars Conference 2013

Good Evening from the Blackfriars! I am Clare and will be your blogger for Paper Session V of the conference 2013.

Moderator: Michael Hirrel.

Ann Pleiss Morris: Patient Auditor to Gentle Reader: Transforming the Introduction from Playhouse to Printhouse

Annalisa Castaldo: “Your majesty came not like yourself”: Staging and Understanding the Glove Episode of Henry V

Andrew Carlson: Performance as Public Dramaturgy

Steve Urkowitz: Shakespeare Shaping Richard in Versions of Henry VI 2 &3, or “The Bard Licking the Boar”

Ann Jennalie Cook: Life in Shakespeare’s London: A  First-Hand Account

Pleiss Morris:

Previous to the invention of the printing press, plays were primarily known as plays, and not as books.  Therefore, the audience members did not move from “page to stage.”  When presses started printing plays, they also printed epistles describing how the reader should react to a play text, and how they should move from stage to page.  Some scholars believe that the prologue and epilogue was a means for the actors, playwright and audience to construct theater together.  Some actors felt that the publication cut at the artistry, and highly limited the plays. Playwrights and actors were also concerned about the difference between the play and the theatrical experience, and the ways in which the editors could change, cut or misprint the text.  Some epistles suggested that audience members think back on the text as they saw it performed.  Publishers could easily intend printed plays therefore, to solicit nostalgia and not for a first encounter.  Beaumont was particularly concerned that the reader recollect the atmosphere of the playhouse in the plays.  Beaumont wrote to Jonson to voice some of his concerns. Introductory epistles also lay out the “correct” reception of a play and teach readers how to read it “properly.” Fletcher does so by laying out the scene and wishes that it could act more as a prologue did. Playwrights concernedly sought to shape the experience of the readers and can help re-envision the movement we undergo from page to stage.

Castaldo:

Henry V’s use of the glove to trick Williams, is perhaps the most problematic instance in Henry V.  The joke often appears not to work, so Castaldo looked at why Shakespeare kept the scene in his script.  Directors often cut the scene because it is problematic.  Scholars often overlook the scene as well, especially in political readings of the play (which keep the first Williams encounter, but the not second).  Audiences see a discontinuity when a King in full armor plays a practical joke. The moment falls in the middle of a set of clearly solemn moments.  Henry also appears to set up for mockery and possible execution one of the soldiers who has just won the battle for him. The fact that the beginning of the scene is inundated with the repetition of the idea of a traitor and impending punishment, offsets the honesty of Williams. The way Henry offers a payment to Williams frames the treatment of other major themes in the play. The OCS touring troupe actors presented the scene first as lighthearted, and then as sinister. Even when presented humorously there is a threat, and even when sinister, there is some humor in the scene.  This scene may also remind audiences/readers of Jack Cade.  (Time and the OCS bear cut the paper short).  Shakespeare wrote his plays knowing how things will be resolved, which is another reason for the strangeness of this moment.

Carlson:

Disparagement in the reading of a text and what some audience members perceive in the text and the performance can be used as dramaturgy. The audience and actor can build a character together.  Over-clarifying and tagging particular characters and motives through Shakespearean study leads to the problem of trying to present the “correct interpretation.” Striving for “correctness” is dissatisfying for audiences and actors.  Stanslavski methods say actors should “do” not “think” and that actors should not over-think characters but react. Actors must “not think” in order to act and simply try to obtain something from another character, or affect a change in the scene partner. This approach cuts out playing a state of being.  However, audience members can think that characters are types and bring qualities of the character to mind rather than what the character does. What audience members experience is neither inherently correct or incorrect, but a version of the story to which the audience can respond with different adjectives.  The audience proscribes what the character is rather than the actor trying to do so, the actor acts on an objective. It takes extensive textual work to get to the point where the actor has the objectives he wants to use and is able to use them in continuity with the text. Actors often struggle with directors who give direction based upon a state of being (ex. “you’re being too _____”) rather than helping to shape the objectives.  Directors have to shape their direction according to the language of the actor.  Using performance as a public dramaturgy is not “the right textual analysis” but a shared process of collaboration to create the art.

Urkowitz:

Urkowitz began his talk by asking everyone to gather the handout he provided that they might fill it out during the presentation. Theater, like an etching, is a form of visual arts, and there are many different kinds of changes which take place between any two productions of the same thing. (Urkowitz directed our attention to two different preparatory etchings by Rebrant for one of his works).  Each of Richard III’s brothers present the blood of their enemies to their father, and Richard presents the head.  Each is praised for his work, and Richard addresses the dead head, asking it as if it is dead (much like a child’s joke when a child addresses an inanimate object).  Richard appears to take delight in examining his handiwork. This same joke appears in Mucedorus when a character addresses the body of a dead bear and ask if it is dead. Severed head jokes must have been circulating in the theater at the time. Many textual adaptations to revised texts of the Henry plays highlight Richard III in monstrous ways. For more information please contact Urkowitz (the OCS bear took his paper too). There is an anxiety of humor to the plays and movement through degrees of sympathy.

Cook:

John Stow is a prolific writer, and commenter upon Shakespearean England.  He titled himself “gentleman” and was able to comment on the court as well as the town.  Even though scholars often turn to certain areas of Stow’s work, the annals provide a better idea of the play-going culture.  Scholars often overlook the surveys and Stow’s works with regard to theater.  Stow is able to comment on theater in the noble’s houses and he also uses the theater as a locale for many of reports.  He is extremely helpful in establishing the area around the theater.  Audience members often observed whippings, beatings, hangings, beheading, etc in their culture.  Therefore, they had a different visceral response to the violence the actors presented on stage.  Things actors presented on stage were able to be directly compared with real life experiences (such as the queen’s garments).  The sets of associations are very different for the playgoers then and now.  Many of the details of what actors presented in plays can be fleshed out with concurrent similar instances of historical events from the time period in the annals. Stow gives us great accounts of the life he shared with Shakespeare.

Staging Session III

Beth Burns

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

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

Why do people hesitate to work with people far away?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Actors naturally find a rhythm that works with lag.

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

James says fairwell and is turned off

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

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

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

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

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

 

Kim Carrell

Variants in the Quarto and Folio texts of Richard the III

Textual veriants

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

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

Now they perform the folio.

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

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

Carrell asks audience what they think.

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

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

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

 

Julia Nelson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

L:  What have we here a manor fish?

A: Fish!

L: A Fish. Dead or alive?

A: Dead!

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

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

Blackfriars Conference 2013—Colloquy #8: Adaptations and Sources

 Good afternoon, all! Sarah Martin here to liveblog Colloquy #8: Adaptations and Sources. Our session took place in the S.P.A.C.E. building in downtown Staunton.

Chair: Edith Frampton, San Diego State University

Presenters: Amy Bolis from the University of Minnesota, Julia Griffin from Georgia Southern University, Amanda Hughes from the University of Alabama Huntsville, Tsui-fen Jiang from National Chengchi University, Mel Johnson from Mary Baldwin College, Louis Martin from Elizabethtown College, and Edward Plough from Delta State University.

 Our Chair, Edith Frampton from San Diego State University, began today’s session with a brief autobiography before asking each of this afternoon’s presenters to do the same.

 Frampton then gave a brief overview of her paper. Frampton argued that Shakespeare used moments in his plays to mock Robert Greene’s famous diatribe in which he describes Shakespeare as an “antic playwright” and a “shakes-scene”. Frampton pointed to moments such as the entrance of the simpleton William in As You Like It and references to the “green-eyed monster” in Shakespeare’s plays as evidence for her claim.

 Julia Griffin’s paper explores the relationship between Shakespeare and Plutarch and emphasizes the role of intermediary translators as sources for Shakespeare’s plays. Griffin used Antony and Cleopatra as her example of such influence. Griffin demonstrated that the influence of intermediary translators led to moments that lack clarity in Shakespeare’s plays, such as the suggestion that Cleopatra celebrated her birthday twice a year.

 Mel Johnson’s paper drew parallels between the “bedchamber scene” in Cymbeline during which Iachomo sneaks into Imogen’s bedroom as she sleeps and The Rape of Lucrece. Johnson argued that The Rape of Lucrece imbued Cymbeline with a sense of antiquity and authority and a sort of “creation myth of Britain” as James I, a Scottish king, became the English monarch.

 Edward Plough began his presentation with a brief performance. Musicians Scott Campbell and Jordan Zwick performed both Gower’s prologue from Pericles and a song from Plough’s musical adaptation of the play, Of Moonjays and Motorcycles. Plough’s paper explored the relationship between Gower in Pericles and a female nurse in Of Moonjays and Motorcycles. Plough explained his choice to create the Gower character as a nurse as Gower mentions that his, “physic” has worked before. Plough chose to pen a musical with Pericles as his source text because, he argued, Pericles is uniquely relevant to the millennial generation.

 Tsui-fen Jiang’s paper explored the role of Shakespeare in adaptation through the play, Goodnight Desdemona/Morning Juliet, a play that asks the audience to consider whether or not Othello and Romeo and Juliet were meant to be comedies. Jiang argued that we view female characters through the lens of patriarchal society and explored what happens when Ann-Marie McDonald, a female playwright with a female heroine, revisits the two iconic Shakespeare heroines.

 Louis Martin’s paper examined the different film versions of Hamlet and the role of the ghost in each one. He gave descriptions from several film adaptations including Kenneth Branagh’s and Franco Zefirelli’s Hamlets from the 1990s. He explored how the films both reflect and challenge Shakespeare’s play and in some cases, further the ambiguity that Shakespeare created in Hamlet.

 Amy Bolis discussed two adaptations of Othello: Harlem Duet and a hip-hop adaptation, Othello The Remix. Both adaptations portray Desdemona only as a voice and not a realized character that an actor embodies. Bolis argued that, while in both productions, Desdemona is only a “stage device”, Desdemona’s role in Harlem Duet is actually progressive as the absence of Desdemona highlights the “white privilege that Desdemona holds over” Othello and the problems that entails.

 Amanda Hughes’ paper explored the role of the Gothic in Shakespeare’s plays from Richard III to Hamlet and its decline in the Romances. Hughes argued that Shakespeare’s plays were influences on 19th Century Gothic writers as well as being Gothic texts themselves. Hughes argued that Richard III epitomizes the Gothic in Shakespeare’s plays through his use of binaries “dreadful marches, delightful measures”. Richard subverts the norm and creates an “atmosphere of terror” that effectively makes the play Gothic.