Sunday, June 23, 2013

A & C 2013 - 2nd section

In the previous post Antony & Cleopatra 2013 I dealt with the beginning, how the production came about, the casting, the auditions and the beginning of the hard stuff.
The hard stuff is dealing with the naysayers. Those are particularly the theatre professionals who assume because they have read, studied, or seen the play then they know it. Many scholars note a bit of comedy or absurdity in A & C. I have not made an extensive scholastic survey of the breadth of writings about the play. So there may be a scholar out there who has written more extensively about the comedy within A & C, if you know of one (or some) please forward their name and the name of the written article or book to me at

Of course beEsides the theatre practitioners (some) who are naysayers and who insist along with most scholars that A & C is a formal tragedy, there is the dilemma of the theatre critics who may or may not be actual theatre practitioners. Certainly I generally consider reviewers in a positive light in that they provide a service to the industry and can assist and prod things along at times. Of course one can clearly seen a pattern of any single reviewer over time. One can see their leanings, preferences, and whose "pockets they may be pissing into" or who provides them the best premiere/opening status.

I hold scholars (not academics, who may now be closer to bureaucrats than to scholars) in high esteem. It would be virtually impossible to present any production of Shakespeare without extensive notes provided over decades by scholars. The language has changged and evolved since Shakespeare's time and the political and social context of each play is woven in layers of assumed knowledge of the time of the original writing and earliest productions.

I have had the opportunity on several occasions to readdress several 'problem scenes' of Shakespeare. Certain scenes particularly in the longer plays are regularly cut or edited down. Many smaller characters are cut or edited out. So in fact when someone says they have seen a certain play by Shakespeare there is a much higher likelihood that they have not seen the play but have seen a cut, abridged, edited version of the play - especially any of the longer plays. Even Hamlet THE play has very rarely been performed in its fuller exposition. There are difficulties in saying what the whole play of Hamlet is since there are at least two versions and they may need to be cobbled together to provide the 'whole' of Hamlet.

Our version was the 'whole' play with the most minor exceptions. For example I did not have an actor play Taurus so those few (VERY FEW) lines were left out. In another scene again for the practical needs of not calling on an extra actor nor wanting to call upon any actor to play an extra character - in another scene calling for three characters I had the character who spoke most simply incorporate the lines (VERY FEW) of the third character. The text of that scene was such that this could be done and did not lose the sense. Though naturally as per the writer's concept the more minor character would have added a reinforcing voice. The scene I am referring to is Act 2 scene 1 and we gave Menecrates to the actor playing Menas.

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