The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 29.0140 Friday, 16 February 2018
Date: February 16, 2018 at 10:14:49 AM EST
Subject: RICHARD III: can't let go of RICHARD or GERALD
Nope, I can’t turn away “cold-turkey.”
Gerald Downs’ last post again claims or implies something like “speech-prefix-variants indicate a stenographic reporter at work. He explains that the reporters would get the words down and then insert the speech prefixes later. Therefore, those speech prefix variants give evidence of stenographic reporters at work or evidence that the speech-prefix-variant is a key that opens a magic door into unexpected intervenors into the Shakespearean script. “But . . .. but . . . but . . . but . . . but . . .” I sputter. “We have the observation that Shakespeare himself ALSO seems to have written down the spoken words of speeches and only later returned to put in the speech prefixes.” The speech-prefix-variants support many theories. We have to go further.
So I ask, “Cui bono?” Who benefits, or what is gained, if Gerald is correct? And conversely what if Urquartowitz got it right? For the Gerald Downs side (which oddly coincides in form and overall consequence with the latest edition of the Oxford University Press Complete Works of Shakespeare) we should look more suspiciously at the earliest printed versions. We should reject their reliability as conduits of Shakespeare’s intent. Instead we should turn to the puzzle-masters like Gary Taylor. We should trust their de-crypted versions and narratives. And (wow, gee-wilikers, Gary!) you mean that we can say Christopher Marlowe was one of the authors of those Henry Six plays? Gerry, you mean RICHARD III Folio actually distorts Shakespeare’s own plan? “Oh frabjous day, Calloo, Callay.” Ain’t life so much better now?
My side says, “Nope! It ain’t like that.” Paraphrasing Yeats’ “Under Ben Bulben,” I say, “Shakespearean Readers, learn your trade” so that “we in coming days may be, / Still the indomitable Shakespeare-ry.”
The trade, OUR trade is or really should be “stage-craft.” How will version 1595 Octavo play on stage? How will its equivalent published in the 1623 Folio play on stage?
We can’t learn to cook by reading a cookbook. At some point we have to get into a kitchen, pick up the dead chicken in our very own hands, and do squeamy things to it. A recipe is an idealized plan. The map is not the terrain. A script is not a play.
So, my dear colleagues, and my dear Gerald Downs, too, try this: Get some half-dozen friends together and act out the variant texts of RICHARD III 3.1. Yummy stuff, both ways. NOT dissected desecrated and distorted Shakespeare. Rather they will think, "Ah, this one is garlicky and that one has so much more cilantro!" BOTH are tasty. I promise you, we and our friends will learn SO MUCH about cooking, and so much about alternative recipes, and so much about why we cook in the first place that we won't ever go back to just looking at the recipes. We'll COOK! We'll cook SHAKESPEARE! MANY WAYS!
Oops, I’m shouting again. But with laughter and dance. Thank you, Gerry Downs. Come, let’s dance, and then sit down and eat together!
Urkcookowitz, the dancin’ fool, now eatin’ his very cold turkey
(replies invited, RSVP)