2016

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 27.252  Thursday, 28 July 2016

 

[1] From:        Kirk McElhearn <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         July 27, 2016 at 12:32:55 PM EDT

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: RSC Faustus 

 

[2] From:        Julia Griffin <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         July 27, 2016 at 5:22:01 PM EDT

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: RSC Faustus 

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

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

Date:         July 27, 2016 at 12:32:55 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: RSC Faustus

 

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

 

For Julia Griffin,

 

1. Whichever text of Faustus you choose the RSC production butchered it.  No Chorus, missing the entire subplot where Faustus’s servants try to ape his magical skills, missing the horse courser, and missing the final scene where the scholars comment on Faustus’s remains.  There were a lot more minor cuts to text

but very difficult to make sense of much of what was done.

 

2. ‘Costumes’ is an exaggerated term for what we saw. Faustus and Mephistopheles looked as though they had just stepped out of some modern drama set on a sink estate - apparently it was one of the ‘gimmicks’ of the production that both changed roles on different nights so that unless you were very observant you could not tell which one was which. Also a very hairy Good Angel with a pait of tatty wings.  Where I was sitting you couldn’t see the Bad Angel. The stage littered with boxes and books - in other words a ‘cheap’ set.

I don’t ask for fidelity to the text, just a production that is comprehensible, and that is edited in such a way that doesn’t confuse.  The ‘modern’ aspects of this production really did drown out the more historical (and religious) aspects which are important, and may be of some modern relevance. I can well see why there was no interval - too many members of the audience, - baffled by the production would have been tempted to leave.

 

A company like the RSC - on very heavy public subsidy - should behave more responsibly, I think. Not all they do is bad, but I see far more intelligent, creatively edited, (and at times genuinely experimental) Shakespeare up here in Scotland.  This is far and away the worst production that I have seen here in recent years, matched, nay, even surpassing, I think by Rupert Goold’s ridiculous Merchant of Venice of a few years ago set in Las Vegas, and with Lancelet crooning Elvis Presley songs! 

 

My, my, you seem quite grumpy... :-)

 

I think the “gimmick” was an interesting idea; it suggested that the two characters were each part of the same persona. Very Jungian. 

 

I’m very happy they cut so much out of the play; it can be a real slog. 

 

And as for subsidies, apparently 25% of the RSC’s funding is from public subsidies. I’m not sure if you think that’s a lot, too much, not enough...

 

https://www.rsc.org.uk/about-us/facts-and-figures/finance-and-funding

 

Best,

Kirk

 

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

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

Date:         July 27, 2016 at 5:22:01 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: RSC Faustus

 

Thank you, Dr. Drakakis.  That does indeed sound gruesome ...  The only (v. few) productions I’ve ever seen of Faustus have been awful, in rather that sort of way: F and Meph playing ragtime on the piano together, etc.  Has anyone seen a good production of the play?

 

Julia Griffin

 

 

 

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