Play Length


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0485  Friday, 30 November 2012


From:        Steve Roth <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         November 30, 2012 11:55:48 AM EST

Subject:     Re: Play Length


Steve Urkowitz’s answer to my question—how frequently were Shakespeare’s plays played uncut—seems to be “mostly” or “almost always.” He only envisions one (type of) situation—a command performance at court—wherein a separate playing version might be prepared. And he doesn’t suggest anything about play length in such a situation. A script might be expanded, or re-arranged, or cut. 


Steve’s personal experience with repertory players and the difficulty of multiple versions carries some weight in supporting that, but absent wider and more systematic evidence from contemporary performance folks, it only moves my Bayesian certainty by a skootch.


Nevertheless, fine.


But I have to wonder how he squares that belief with his long-standing contentions – going back at least to his concluding chapter twenty years ago in The Hamlet First Published – that Q1 Hamlet and other “bad” quartos constitute valid (playing?) versions in their own rights.


And I want to cut to what’s really important to me: is there any validity to “literary” interpretations of Shakespeare’s plays—interpretations that seem to require understandings which could only be achieved by a careful reader (or a very diligent multiple auditor with a very busy commonplace book)?


I think the common and long-standing rhetorical dismissal of such readings and interpretations (“no auditor would have noticed that”) is misplaced. Whether you go all New Critical (“It’s there; it doesn’t matter if the author ‘intended’ it.”), or Intentional (“S obviously knew that he was being read, and had to have written for those readers.”), or some other approach, what I’ve defined here as “literary” interpretations and understandings are not, IMHO, anachronistic, specious, or misguided. When well-done (feel free to define that yourself), they serve to enrich and illuminate and I would even say expand the plays just as they do Don Quixote or your choice of dense and unpack-able non-dramatic works—without negating (quite the contrary) the play’s simultaneous status as theatrical scripts, or the the critical import of that status.


For me, the play-length discussion is mainly about addressing that question. 

Shakespeare’s Globe Indoor Theater Update


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0484  Friday, 30 November 2012


From:        Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         November 29, 2012 11:35:02 PM EST

Subject:     Re: Shakespeare’s Globe Indoor Theater Update


>While the Globe is a replica of the wooden open-air theater where 

>some of Shakespeare’s plays were produced in the 16th century, 

>the new theater space was envisioned by Wanamaker and others 

>years ago to augment the Globe for Jacobean works that were 

>performed indoors during the 16th and 17th centuries.


I cannot think of a single Jacobean work performed in the 16th Century.


ISE/Broadview Julius Caesar Published

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0482  Friday, 30 November 2012

From:        Michael Best <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         Friday, November 30, 2012 2:25 PM

Subject:     ISE/Broadview Julius Caesar Published


It is with great pleasure that I write to let you know that the second play in the ISE/Broadview series has been published: John Cox’s Julius Caesar. Congratulations to John on a fine edition, and to Broadview for their usual attractive and professional book design.


You will find it in the Broadview catalogue here:


I’m pleased to say that the next plays in the series—Henry IV, Part One, Twelfth Night, Henry V, and The Winter’s Tale—are in various stages of review and preparation.



Michael Best

Coordinating Editor, Internet Shakespeare Editions


Department of English, University of Victoria

Victoria B.C. V8W 3W1, Canada.


[Editor’s Note: I have augmented Michael Best’s announcement below. Hardy]


Publisher’s Description:


Julius Caesar is a key link between Shakespeare’s histories and his tragedies. Unlike the Caesar drawn by Plutarch in a source text, Shakespeare’s Caesar is surprisingly modern: vulnerable and imperfect, a powerful man who does not always know himself. The open-ended structure of the play insists that revealing events will continue after the play ends, making the significance of the history we have just witnessed impossible to determine in the play itself.


John D. Cox’s introduction discusses issues of genre, characterization, and rhetoric, while also providing a detailed history of criticism of the play. Appendices provide excerpts from important related works by Lucretius, Plutarch, and Montaigne.


A collaboration between Broadview Press and the Internet Shakespeare Editions project at the University of Victoria, the editions developed for this series have been comprehensively annotated and draw on the authoritative texts newly edited for the ISE. This innovative series allows readers to access extensive and reliable online resources linked to the print edition.


John D. Cox is DuMez Professor of English at Hope College, Holland, Michigan, and has published widely on Shakespeare’s plays and other Renaissance drama.


Table of Contents:





Shakespeare’s Life

Shakespeare’s Theater

William Shakespeare and Julius Caesar: A Brief Chronology

A Note on the Texts

Characters in the Play


Julius Caesar


Appendix A: Plutarch's Lives


  1. from Life of Caesar
  2. from Life of Brutus
  3. from Life of Marcus Antonius

Appendix B: Montaigne on Stoicism and Epicurenism


Works Cited


Instructor Copies: Academics teaching relevant courses may request examination copies of titles to consider for text adoption. We ask that you limit your examination copy requests to three or fewer at a time; if you are not confident that you will adopt the book, please help us keep costs down by ordering it instead. If in the future you do decide to assign as a course text a book you have previously ordered personally, Broadview Press will be happy to refund your money.


Julius Caesar

A Broadview Internet Shakespeare Edition

Written by: William Shakespeare

Edited by: John D. Cox


ISBN: 9781554810505 / 1554810507


Now: CDN & US $13.95

In August: $15.95


Internet Shakespeare Editions edition:


The Venus & Adonis Dedication


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0483  Friday, 30 November 2012


From:        Ian Steere <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         November 30, 2012 1:50:27 PM EST

Subject:     The Venus & Adonis Dedication


Last year I invited comments from Shaksperians on my article, The Biography in Shakespeare’s Sonnets. I received some helpful responses (mainly in private), but with distractions elsewhere it has taken me until now to take account of these in a somewhat revised piece.


As part of the process I have elaborated my analysis of the Venus & Adonis dedication. I think - as I did before – that the language of the dedication sheds new light on Shakespeare’s history, irrespective of any connection with the Sonnets. I suspect, however, that this proposition may have been obscured by the form of its presentation within the wider thesis. Consequently, I set out below the newly expanded argument (suitably isolated by way of extract) and would welcome any constructive criticism.







The dedication attached to the poem, Venus & Adonis, runs as follows:


To the Right Honourable Henry Wriothesley,

Earl of Southampton, and Baron of Titchfield.

Right Honourable,


I know not how I shall offend in dedicating my unpolished lines to your Lordship, nor how the world will censure me for choosing so strong a prop to support so weak a burden, only if your Honour seem but pleased, I account myself highly praised, and vow to take advantage of all idle hours, till I have honoured you with some graver labour. But if the first heir of my invention prove deformed, I shall be sorry it had so noble a godfather: and never after ear [cultivate] so barren a land, for fear it yield me still so bad a harvest. I leave it to your Honourable survey, and your Honour to your heart’s content, which I wish may always answer your own wish, and the world’s hopeful expectation.


Your Honour’s in all duty,

William Shakespeare.


An initial reading likely arouses no sense of disaffection or disinformation. The address looks like the conventional interpretation of it – a grovelling supplication to a superior who has perhaps not even met the author. On deeper analysis, some oddities emerge. For example, the expression, “I leave ... your Honour to your heart’s content” appears over-familiar in tone (as may be more readily seen by imagining the cessation of the address at this point). Its qualification, “which I wish may always answer your own wish”, is clumsily expressed by comparison to the “I wish [you] long life still lengthened with all happiness” of the later Lucrece dedication. Nor does it really remove the sense of impropriety. It is the final, ambiguous phrase (“and the world’s hopeful expectation”) which helps to smooth.


However, the author is Shakespeare, grandmaster of punning and the English language. The key to his verbal sleights lies in the middle of the address, where “the first heir of my invention” evokes the first, or primary, dedicatee of any of Shakespeare’s art, ie the addressee, Wriothesley. With this key a parallel presentation of insult and resentment is unlocked! Here is an open rendition of the disguised theme:


I know not how you will discern insult in this dedication of my unpolished lines to your Lordship. Nor do I know how the world will censure me for choosing what is relatively so substantial a work to honour such a lightweight.


If my only reward is your Honour's apparent pleasure I will, nevertheless, be flattered and promise to work as hard as I can to provide you with something more serious in theme.


On the other hand, if the first dedicatee of my art proves to be debased from what he was, I shall be sorry, as the man who originally encouraged my poetry was such a noble patron: and I will never again devote my efforts to such an undiscerning ingrate for fear of the same poor return.


I leave it for your honourable scrutiny and I leave your honour to the one who currently contents you. I hope he will be the constant slave of your whims in that manner which all look forward to behold.


The body of Shakespeare’s original address contains some 130 words. Analysts generally agree that its tones are ones of respect, supplication and self-deprecation, as would be normal for a dedication of this kind. What then are the odds that such a passage will contain, by chance, a parallel theme of insult and reproach such as the one above? We may gain a good insight into the answer by imagining an experiment which mimics the position of the Shakespeare of orthodoxy.


In our imagined experiment, proficient writers are approached individually – ostensibly to obtain the composition of a dedication. The writers are to remain ignorant of the underlying aims of the exercise. Instead, each is primed to the predicament of a poverty-stricken, unknown author, trying to get a first book published. The book is fiction, but its hero is a flattering projection of Charles, the current Prince of Wales. For some plausible reason (perhaps illness), the author needs help with its dedication to Charles. Each shadow-writer is hired to produce a version whose body comprises around 130 words, is designed to be pleasing to the Prince and expresses hopes for his endorsement of the book and a possible sequel. The writer is given an incentive for success (for example, the promise of a bonus if the dedication is used). When the various offerings have been submitted, they are analyzed to identify and count those which contain a pervasive, fully coherent parallel theme of insult and reproach.

I suggest that such an exercise would produce not one hit in a thousand dedications. However, whatever one's projected hit-rate, this must, if rational, be very low – given the polarity of the themes under consideration. A correspondingly high probability manifests: that the counter-messages in Shakespeare's address of Wriothesley arose other than by chance. By way of quantified illustrations, even an implausibly high hit-rate of one in twenty five ascribed to our model above will point to a probability of around 96% that the parallel theme was constructed deliberately. My suggested hit-rate (of less than one in a thousand) points to a probability of around 99.9%*. 


With these considerations, the existence and content of the parallel theme provide several pieces of information. They show (at the high levels of probability indicated above) that Shakespeare had an unusually intimate and stormy relationship with the Earl – which must have started, at the least, several months before April 1593. They affirm that Southampton had originally been a champion of the poet and his works. However, Shakespeare was now badly upset by a change of attitude and the threat of losing that sponsorship. He was sufficiently moved to vent his feelings by raising a silent finger to the Earl in what was designed to look like a respectful supplication. There are strong and bitter hints that Wriothesley’s affections were now focused elsewhere.


Even if the Sonnets are set to one side, these discoveries expand the histories of Shakespeare and Southampton. It is a fact, however, that the related information accords perfectly with the unique story underlying Sonnets 56-85, as summarized . . .  [in The Biography in Shakespeare's Sonnets].


* 100(1-1/25) = 96. 100(1-1/1000) = 99.9. These derivations assume a large sample size for our model - not an issue given that this is only an intellectual exercise.


[Extract ends] 

Shakespeare’s Globe Indoor Theater Update


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0481  Thursday, 29 November 2012


From:        Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         Thursday, November 29, 2012

Subject:     Shakespeare’s Globe Indoor Theater Update


Below is from today’s New York Times:


November 27, 2012

Shakespeare’s Globe Sets 2014 Opening Date for Indoor Theater

By Patrick Healy


Leaders of the open-air Shakespeare’s Globe theater in London said on Tuesday that its new indoor theater space will open in January 2014 and be named for Sam Wanamaker, the American actor and director who led the decades-long effort to rebuild the Globe on the south bank of the Thames.


The new 340-seat theater will be designed in the Jacobean tradition, with perhaps the most notable touch being the candles that will light much of the space, according to the Globe’s artistic director, Dominic Dromgoole. The construction of the new Sam Wanamaker Theater is costing approximately £7.5 million, or about $12 million, and £6.5 million has been raised so far, a spokeswoman for the theater said.


The inaugural production for the new theater will be announced next year, the spokeswoman added. The space, which will have two tiers of galleried seating and a pit seating area, will feature Jacobean plays by Webster, Marlowe and Ford as well as works by Shakespeare.


While the Globe is a replica of the wooden open-air theater where some of Shakespeare’s plays were produced in the 16th century, the new theater space was envisioned by Wanamaker and others years ago to augment the Globe for Jacobean works that were performed indoors during the 16th and 17th centuries.


 [ . . . ]

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