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TOPIC: Janus

Janus 8 years 6 months ago #2053

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Janus is the God of doorways - and if Wells et al are right,

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

is the first play He wrote - in other words, my entrance into the Complete Works.

It is certainly a play which looks forward - there are countless points when reading and watching when you go - ah, that's in Romeo and Juliet, that's in A Midsummer Nights Dream, didn't that happen in The Merchant of Venice, or Othello ... that reminds me a little of the scene in Twelfth Night, or, surely that is a little like Hamlet's ....

But it's more than just action and incident, word and phrase - there is a usage of language and a usage of theatre that makes this a very Shakespearean play.

This is already Shakespeare the poet (in "http://bookreflect.blogspot.com/2008/04/nuclear-shakespeare.html"Brook's sense) - the resonance and reference looking back into experience and encounters.

This is Shakespeare digging into the works of other stage professionals - there is a strong link, I think, to Lyly - I couldn't stop thinking of the 'courtly' actions and the word play found in the older man's work and attempts to satisfy for Elizabeth's taste.

There is Greene, in the character and spirit of these two young men.

But it is not the 'borrowed clothes' plagiarism of A Groatsworth of Wit, which would suggest an insecurity - for this is quite a confident play - it is an early exploration of the power of the theatre to self reference - and to deepen and even create meaning through such reference. It is a shorthand - why waste time going over the same ground already covered. It is a playing with the audience - spot the quote (remember, education was mainly about quoting the right authority when you are debate).

Curiously enough - it is a play about leaving a woman you love to go to another city - and, to commit the sin of implied biography, I can't help linking this to the earlier sonnet (1- 145).

It is also very much a genre play, with a set of conventions to guide both the performance and the watching - and I suspect part of its unpopularity is due much more to the genre being out of fashion than with any quality of the play itself.

This is a play of wit - and therein lies another difficulty: Wit frequently requires a knowledge of and easy flexibility with language - and we are just too distant to take the 'set-piece' exchanges without a degree of study beforehand.

Above all else, this is an entertaining play - something doubted at times: I enjoyed watching it, I enjoyed reading it through.

Whether it is a play to be 'studied' is a different question - but then, I very much doubt whether any of the plays should really be studied - death by academia.

8)
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Janus 8 years 6 months ago #2056

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Well, I have to say I think that's a horrid notion. If the plays had never been studied, they wouldn't have survived beyond their first few decades.
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Janus 8 years 6 months ago #2057

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akfarrar Whether it is a play to be 'studied' is a different question - but then, I very much doubt whether any of the plays should really be studied - death by academia.
sorensonian Well, I have to say I think that's a horrid notion. If the plays had never been studied, they wouldn't have survived beyond their first few decades.

For various reasons, both fortunate and un-, I find myself agreeing with both of you. 'Studied', 'analyzed' 'interpreted? Yes. Messed about with-down to complete restructuring of the poetic line, due to some apparent anal-retentive need to 'correct' ("emend") Shakespeare's grammar, punctuation, and structure-as though academia is assured they know better? No.
I think Shakespeare might have left that to the actor/director in any case--then or now. The breath has been taken out even by well-meaning "preservationists". The text lives, breathes, and changes, dependent upon the circumstances (sort of like Life)--it's malleable--not something for an encrusted entombment under glass, gathering dust on a library shelf.
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Janus 8 years 6 months ago #2058

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Shakespeare survives in the theatre, dies in academia!
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Janus 8 years 6 months ago #2061

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akfarrar wrote:
You don't have to agree with me!

Thank you! :-)
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Janus 8 years 6 months ago #2062

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An "Academic"? Treatise

To continue this, when it most probably belongs on another thread, begs the question, but:
Having found myself on the hot-seat of hat-wearing--actor, director, producer, teacher, and performance script editor ( always more than one of those charges at a given time and sometimes all of them at once)-- I've found the most benefit in an attempt to meld the academic and the theatrical.
As sorensonian has, I believe, accurately noted, if not for the study-- thus the inherent need for preservation-- it's likely that we might not even have the text to argue over. As akfarrar has also accurately noted, academia has, in my opinion, done it's part to mummify the work, and render it inaccessible (and boring) to the vast majority.
But I have found the hybrid connection between theatre and pure literary analyzation is inescapable and indeed necessary, when it comes to a better understanding of what is happening vis a vis the poetic/dramatic line ('academic' in many ways) , and the technique ('theatrical', but also supported in its own way by an understanding of the former) required to do it justice on the stage.
This is where Shakespeare himself was able to shine; whether or not he "analyzed" it as we do now makes little difference. The presence of both a poetic and a dramatic mastery led to his ability to circumvent the rules--therein lay a significant portion of his genius. But structure is required in order that we might have a structure to depart from. In this way, Beethoven was a jazz genius within--and without-- the constructs of classical form when it came to structural shading.
In the case of Shakespeare, to eliminate one aspect--either the studied or the free-wheeling theatrical--leads to something of an incomplete understanding, and a complete dead end to discussion; as we have too often seen. :(
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Janus 8 years 6 months ago #2063

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Lament - Why does no one want to talk about 'Two Gentlemen'? :(
Shakespeare never intended anyone to study Shakespeare. It is no accident that he made himself so anonymous.

Peter Brook

Ref: http://shakespearence.blogspot.com/2008 ... peare.html

:?
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Janus 8 years 6 months ago #2064

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akfarrar Lament - Why does no one want to talk about 'Two Gentlemen'?
Quote:
Shakespeare never intended anyone to study Shakespeare. It is no accident that he made himself so anonymous.
Peter Brook




Possibly because you keep pressing your own hot button.
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Janus 8 years 6 months ago #2065

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If I understood that, I'd possibly be offended!
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Janus 8 years 6 months ago #2076

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Surely no offense was intended. --simply to point out that at the very end of your initial post you broached a subject:
Whether it is a play to be 'studied' is a different question - but then, I very much doubt whether any of the plays should really be studied - death by academia.
--and continue to offer support for your stand on it, thereby continuing the discussion. The ending statement was part of your post--did you expect a return on everything else in your post, but not on something you categorically and obviously related to it? Judging by the "hot button" you used to button it (quoted above) and your willingness to continue to rebut (though not 'discuss') any comments made re: it, to shout "non sequitur" on the part of someone else, merely answering what you continue to post serially afterward, seems at conflict.
akfarrar: If I understood that, I'd possibly be offended!
--The Brook quote doesn't "end it"--I have a response--but at the risk of "possibly offending!" you further, I'll end it here. :wink: :wink:
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