By Jonathan Holmes
Merely Players? marks a groundbreaking departure in Shakespeare experiences by means of giving direct voice to the Shakespearean performer. It attracts on 3 centuries worthy of actors' written reflections on enjoying Shakespeare and brings jointly the twin worlds of functionality and academia, offering a distinct source for the coed and theatre-lover alike.
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Extra resources for Merely Players?: Actors' Accounts of Performing Shakespeare
The complexities of address that this position necessitates prompt Beale perceptively to state that ‘it is the responsibility of the actor playing him to make sure that Thersites’ views do not imperceptibly come to appear as those of Shakespeare. ’79 The clown’s privileges do not extend to surrogate authorial expression, as the confusion of ‘role’ with the functions of an implied narrator often leads spectators familiar with nineteenth-century novelistic realism and with cinema to suppose. It is this strict understanding of Thersites’ role, rather than his character, that allows Beale to not only evade the pitfalls of imposed psychology but also to avoid a reliance on an appropriated authorial mandate.
As an alien living a precarious existence within strictly enforced boundaries, Shylock’s concept of character is necessarily so defined. 134 Such a legalistic understanding of self must necessarily be metonymic, concerned with details, parts and moments. 136 In 1562 Bishop John Jewell wrote: Chrysostome compareth the state of the Jewes unto a candle: and the state of the Christians, to the Brightness of the Sunne. 137 The Jew is an unfinished draught, requiring the Christian to complete it. Moreover, the Jew is also a bare plot, form without content, needful of Christian detail to flesh it out, as it were.
Three of the actors describing playing the fool mention either Kemp or Armin. Their modern-day counterparts within Players, Luscombe and Hutchings, are very conscious of their place in a tradition of fools. 49 Hutchings here mixes a rhetoric of originality (‘created’) with one of exploration (‘discovered’, ‘found’) and reverence (the ‘superb writer’), in such a way as to AGAINST THE GRAIN: SHAKESPEARE AND THE PROBLEM OF CHARACTER 25 display clearly the theological operations of Stanislavskyan acting authority— and revelation sanctioning a self-authoring act.