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Literary Criticism & Bard > The Next Discussion?

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message 1: by Candy (last edited Mar 06, 2009 07:27AM) (new)

Candy | 2748 comments Mod
I have a few questions.

Some of us have been discussing All's Well That Ends Well and I don't know if the discussion is winding down...perhaps shortly...

So...I wonder if we are thinking of heading into another play?

And this gives me many more questions...

Is there any one else who wants to read another play as a group?

How shall we approach the reading?

Shall we carry on as we did in previous discussion, one scene every two days?

How shall we nominate or decide on what play?

Are participants comfortable with the fact...that we don't seem to have a moderator at this page? I e-mailed the moderator, but never heard back from her. This means...should we have an issue we don't have any protection except our own sense of justice or good behaviour? I wonder if this contributes to less participants?

Should be try to elect a moderator?

Would we like to track down a film version of such a play...and also discuss that?

Aret here lurkers who followed the discussion...and think we were full of doo-doo and wouldn't dream of joining us if we were to schedule another?

Or...are there lurkers who would LIKE to join the next discussion?

Does any one have some wisdom or insight into how we could improve the discussion?

Or shall we carry on organically?

Why do you like reading Shakespeare? To learn, or to share your knowledge...or to have fun, or to prepare for a play? A school exercise? Other?

Are there potential participants who would discuss a play but only if it was one they haven't read...or one they were familiar with?

I did receive a message during our discussion from a person here at Goodreads...who said they were following along, but were too intimidated to join in. this made me feel I think Shakspeare is actually very fun to read a s a group...maybe even it's necessary...and he writes so broadly...I a perfect world scenario... discussions can be broad too. ..and it shouldn't be intimidating.

Part of the reason I am posting this note is because this web group has about 167 members and I there something we could do to inspire more participants?

I loved the discussion that we just had...or are having...but I am also of the camp..."the more the merrier"...and we can learn more.


message 2: by Bruce (new)

Bruce | 27 comments Candy

Here's a comment from a lurker. I'd love to join into whatever play this group next chooses to go to, and I think the idea of doing a play that's been done in film is a great idea. You might even consider one with multiple film versions. Beyond that, I'm wide open as to choice - I love virtually all of the plays, - okay, maybe we could skip Two Gents or King John, but otherwise, I'm game.

And if you were thinking of me relative to the comment about intimidation, I think you misunderstood. It is a very high level of discussion you all engage in, and thats a good thing, but Good God - the length of some of the posts you have!! My concern was more the time it would take to catch up, and to commit to staying up to speed.

But choose another, and I will gird my loins....Once more into the breach dear friends, and the devil take the hindmost ... or something close to that.

message 3: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2748 comments Mod
Oh great to hear from you Bruce!

I find with any discussion it's easy, on the internet to miss a day and find several long posts...which is what happened to me this week at "AWTEW"...but fun to catch up on.

I think we'll see what kind of response happens over the next couple of days...

Meanwhile this afternoon on cable is "Love's Labour's Lost" and Much Ado" with Branaugh if anyone wants a heads up and has "encore" channel (I think thats what they are on).

I'm pretty open minded about what ever play we come up with.

I hope to hear from Matthew, William, Whitaker and others in the next couple of days.

Maybe we could find a play that a few of us aren't that familiar with so it might be an adventure. but I don't mind re-visiting one either.

I think my only restriction might be King Lear i've just read it with online groups a few times so Im feeling kind of over exposed to that one.

message 4: by William (new)

William In the AWTEW Reading Thread, Matthew wrote: While the plays are poetic, they are plays first and foremost.

Here's a bit of an 'Amen!' to what Matthew wrote:

Treat Shakespeare as a script

Shakespeare wrote his plays to be performed, to be brought to life on stage before an audience. Over centuries, however, generations of scholars have transformed each play into a literery text. That legacy of textual scholarship ... is part of a tradition that is deeply suspicious of enjoyment, that finds it hard to accept that pleasure and learning can go hand in hand....

The notion of 'text' is deeply ingrained in Shakespearian study at all levels, and carries greater status than 'script'.... [It:] tacitly suggests that studying Shakespeare involves the pursuit of a 'right answer'.

from Teaching Shakespeare, a volume in the Cambridge School Shakespeare, by Rex Gibson.

That most of the 167 members of this group have not posted a single comment to the AWTEW Reading Thread may be part of the legacy of the textual tradition, which Gibson claims induces an atmosphere of "authority, reverence, certainty."

Perhaps we need to do something to avoid that atmsphere in our discussion of the next play.

message 5: by William (new)

William The next play: anything but AWTEW is good for me.

I liked Martin's scene-every-other-day pace, but, really, nothing will keep me away and very little with move me to silence.

message 6: by Bruce (new)

Bruce | 27 comments Oh Candy,

I do love Branagh, but Loves Labours Lost was kind of a stretch, a little like Shakespeare meets Cole Porter ala Brush Up Your Shakespeare from Kiss Me Kate - it was fun, but really Alicia Silverstone???

message 7: by Candy (last edited Mar 06, 2009 06:07PM) (new)

Candy | 2748 comments Mod
William said That most of the 167 members of this group have not posted a single comment to the AWTEW Reading Thread may be part of the legacy of the textual tradition, which Gibson claims induces an atmosphere of "authority, reverence, certainty."

Perhaps we need to do something to avoid that atmosphere in our discussion of the next play.

Weeeelll...for one fleeting second I felt paranoid that we lost some participants in the 167 members of this Goodreads group....

....what atmosphere might we try avoiding? She asks nervously...

...but wait, no way we could have any kind of effect on others. We just aren't that fancy heh heh. The world is still turning...

Evidence, one...if Gibson was correct on this suggestion of textual tradition...why would anyone have joined membership to a Shakespeare discussion group?

And second...I just went through each "topic" here at Shakespeare's Fans...and it is the usual suspects for the most, Matthew, Martin and I...and Terrence. Plus...we made about a 170 posts in the AWTEW thread...but only a85 views were I think there isn't ANY one else here who is interested...or reading along or lurking...because most of those log-ins to view the topic would have been us half a dozen folks...Whitaker, me, Bruce, Martin, William and Matthew!

I am going to hold out some hope there will be some others in the next few days who might help us pick a play..and voice feedback here...and join in on the fun!

Oh, Bruce, LLLit's a musical? I think maybe I did try to watch this before and I've blocked it from my memory!

message 8: by Bruce (new)

Bruce | 27 comments Candy - It is indeed a musical. Sort of a 1930's Fred Astaire take on Shakespeare. I am ok with this kind of thing in general, as I think it keeps the text fresh in an interesting way when done well. Almost none of our stagings at Shakespeare Santa Cruz were done traditionally, and they worked for me. This one sometimes works, and sometimes doesn't. Branagh is fun, and Adrian Lester is delightful. Also, Nathan Lane and Geraldine MacEwen are a stitch in supporting roles. But Silverstone is a major disappointment. But give it a try and tell us what you thought.

message 9: by Bruce (new)

Bruce | 27 comments I quite agree with Matthew and William. It is so important to remember that Shakespeare was meant to be performed. I love the Bard because of how many really fine performances I've seen, not due to reading the plays as fun as that can be. Whatever play you decide to look at next, I know I would find the discussion to be enhanced by being able to see a good performance as well as reading the work. There are any number of really fine film versions of the plays available, both classic and contemporary (and some real clunkers as well) as well as BBC versions that are reasonably accessible also. Another two cents worth from the lurker.

message 10: by Matthew (new)

Matthew | 91 comments Bruce is quite right. I love Branagh as a director and his LLL is actually a very fun experiment for what it is. But it doesn't work for our purposes.

I'm not even close to ready to wind down the AWTEW conversation. Once I see the TV version, I'm sure I'll have a slew of new perspectives. In the words of Col. Frank Slade, "I'm just gettin' warmed up!"

Regardless of whether we move on to the next one sooner or later, my feeling is this: We started with a pretty obscure play that doesn't get done much. In the interests of contrast, it would be fun to tackle one of the major classics next; maybe Lear or Shrew, Hamlet or Midsummer? I think it would be fun to contrast our approaches to plays on such opposite ends of the fame scale (so to speak).

message 11: by Whitaker (new)

Whitaker (lechatquilit) I'm happy to commit to joining in. In terms of plays, I would tentatively (very very very tentatively) suggest The Winter's Tale but only for the very selfish reason that I'm watching it on 26 March. Otherwise, I think A Midsummer Night's Dream is okay with me. I'm quite familiar with it already. You can actually watch a version staged by Northwestern U on Youtube so that tackles the staging issue:
-- Act I available here
-- Act II available here
-- Act III available here

Another method is simply to have everyone vote on all the Shakespeare plays in a poll. Or to have everyone name the five plays they want to read, and to go down the list via the number of votes each play gets starting with the most popular.

message 12: by Whitaker (last edited Mar 07, 2009 03:26AM) (new)

Whitaker (lechatquilit) Re the moderator, she's apparently inactive (if you click on the "last active" link below her photo you'll get a little pop-up). It says: "This moderator is inactive. If you'd like to help out in this group, send them a message asking to be made a moderator. If they are unresponsive, please contact Goodreads and state your request."

Candy, I'm not sure if that's what you did when you e-mailed her. Someone (or someones) may need to volunteer. I don't mind provided a couple of others join in to spread the work around.

Re the number of views, it's actually the number of discrete eyeballs not number of times viewed. You can check that simply by going into the same thread a few times. You'll see that the number of views doesn't change. In the group discussion topic itself, if you click on the link "x views" you'll see a message like this: "This topic has been viewed by 86 unique people." So, you have had 4 active participants and another 82 who have at least glanced at the thread. Since they may only have gone in once and never again after that, you can't really know how many of those 82 eyeballs were truly active lurkers or just one-time curious onlookers.

message 13: by Matthew (new)

Matthew | 91 comments While I am perfectly happy with Winter's Tale and the performance Whitaker is attending might bring some interesting perspectives from him into the discussion, it occurs to me that a major classic has the added advantage of having more different performances available for comparison.

Off the top of my head, there are three different widescreen movies of Midsummer available and at least two television broadcasts. I can think of only one cinematic movie of Lear but three TV broadcasts are accessible. Hamlet? My God, we'll be here all day! Five movies and four TV broadcasts just off the top of my head (plus everyone has at least one live stage reference that they remember).

message 14: by Bruce (new)

Bruce | 27 comments Some other suggestions -
Henry V - excellent versions by both Olivier and Branagh
Richard III - Olivier was delightfully evil in this
Macbeth - The Welles version has been shown recently on TCM
Midsummer - dont forget the version from the 30's - brilliantly wierd
Twelfth Night - There was a version with Kevin Kline and others about 10 years ago I think

Any of these would be interesting

message 15: by Candy (last edited Mar 08, 2009 10:39AM) (new)

Candy | 2748 comments Mod
Oh this is terrific!

Matthew...I'm not feeling finished either with "AWTEW"...I just thought...if we begin to discuss next play...we might hear from others and get some ideas stirred up and maybe more participants.

All the comments here have been fun to read and I think we are off to a good start on deciding what play next.

Of fun thing about we already have a list of plays to choose from going. I like Matthews idea of going with a famous play, then a less popularly performed play. What a great idea!

So our list so far is:

Richard III
Henry V
The Windter's Tale
King Lear
The Taming of The Shrew
A Midsummer's Night Dream (3 people have mentioned this one...hmmm...)

Twelfth Night

I will add my interests in plays as follow:

The Winter's Tale
The Taming of The Shrew
Twelfth Night

Overall...I see as anything goes...but that gives us...somethign to begin with.

Whitaker, thank you for the breakdown of how the site reads visitors. Cool. That means we have potentially 80 curious...

Curious is a great terrific quality. Yeah curious!

So now, we ned to contact the site operators as I understand. I'm a bit of a techno peasant and not sure I would make the best moderator. One of the reasons I might not make a good moderator is I cuss like a pirate ha ha in real life. Plus, I am very opinionated...I'm not mean spirited but I am opinionated and maybe a more moderate personality is better suited to moderation?

I also am not really worried about what people post...I lie creative freedom in discussions as well as real maybe I would be not "tough" enough heh heh...

But whatever...I am again...openminded.

message 16: by Matthew (new)

Matthew | 91 comments If we are looking for a large number of good performances to compare, I would advise against Richard III. Both cinematic versions -- the ones with Olivier and McKellen -- truncate the play to about 50% of its original length and completely excise the character of Queen Margaret, without whom the play loses a huge amount of its complexity. The lead performances are, as Bruce observes, terrific, but the productions as a whole would not suit our purposes any more than the Berkelyesque Love's Labors Lost and for much the same reason.

I like the idea of Macbeth. In addition to the Welles version, there's also the Roman Polanski movie from 1971 and at least four television broadcasts available with Ian McKellen, Philip Anglim, Nicol Williamson, and Jeremy Brett. Also, it's a play I've done twice (I've played Banquo and Malcolm) and is very close to my heart. On the other hand, it might be too close to my heart for a discussion like this one.

If we do Midsummer, there is the famous 1935 version with Mickey Rooney. I get the feeling Bruce has a higher opinion of that film than I have but that is certainly something fun to hash out in the discussion. There was also a movie made in the late '60's with a young Judi Dench but I don't know whether it's available. The recent Michael Hoffman movie with Kevin Kline was either loved or hated; no one felt lukewarm about it. And, of course, there's the good old reliable BBC.

message 17: by Martin (last edited Mar 08, 2009 03:04AM) (new)

Martin | 39 comments It may be Sunday, but unfortunately I am busy, so just a few hurried points:

-- I think the important thing is to decide how to choose the next play, not to keep pushing candidates.

-- Don't be influenced in the choice by existing films of the plays. They are not proper stage versions anyway. We'd never have come by AWTEW that way, and it was a great thing to read. Play first, seeing opportunities second.

-- It's great to see the enthusiasm get going, but after the AWTEW read I personally need a break. (I did a lot of writing!) Perhaps I'll have to miss out on the next read if it starts soon.

-- I suggest some rules to guarantee people are genuinely reading. State the edition used, when chosen, why and so on. If people only comment on the posts of others they should be challenged. This will be important if we go for the best-known plays (Hamlet etc)

-- adopt the no-spoiler rule (good discipline) even for plays everyone knows (Hamlet).

message 18: by Candy (last edited Mar 08, 2009 03:01AM) (new)

Candy | 2748 comments Mod
Okay, I think those are all fair points and insights.

I did start this thread...but not because I was suggesting we begin a new discussion in any immediate fashion. Martin. (at the very least...I think Matthew and I both feel we have more to explore in "AWTEW")

I was mainly hoping to see who was out there, any new participants and set up a date of the next play ahead of time. When we began the discusion of "AWTEW" the play was decided and the discussion began all within two days...and maybe we would have had more participants if we had given a little time between deciding the play...and beginning the discussion?

I had just naturally guessed once we picked a play we might not begin till say two weeks later...make a schedule announcement etc etc. List the scenes and then the days that each scene was ...well like this:


A Winter's Tale- beginning March25

March 25: Act 1, Scene 1: Antechamber in LEONTES' palace.
March 27 Act 1, Scene 2: A room of state in the same.
March 29 Act 2, Scene 1: A room in LEONTES' palace.
March 31 Act 2, Scene 2: A prison.
April 2 Act 2, Scene 3: A room in LEONTES' palace.
April 4 Act 3, Scene 1: A sea-port in Sicilia.
April 6Act 3, Scene 2: A court of Justice.
April 8 Act 3, Scene 3: Bohemia. A desert country near the sea.
April 10 Act 4, Scene 2: Bohemia. The palace of POLIXENES.
April 12 Act 4, Scene 3: A road near the Shepherd's cottage.
April 14 Act 4, Scene 4: The Shepherd's cottage.
April 16 Act 5, Scene 1: A room in LEONTES' palace.
April 18 Act 5, Scene 2: Before LEONTES' palace.
April 20 Act 5, Scene 3: A chapel in PAULINA'S house.

So far, I've been having great luck with finding BBC versions of the plays. I've got half a dozen already in the apartment. I wonder if the public library would be a good place to Look? Especially for Matthew in N.Y. maybe an inter-library loan?

I've watched the first five-ten minutes of these plays...just curious about the set direction, and players and am beyond impressed and excited. I really think these are terrific sources for discussion and wonderfully "clean"...if I may be so bold to say so.

Martin, yes, it would have been fun to know which publishing each of us had read for "AWTEW"...although I do believe I had said I was reading one online.

I will make sure to link it the thread...and in future reads. It's likely I will always use an online source...I love being able to copy references and sections so easily into a discussion. Having an online source even if we are reading a hard copy at home may be useful for all of us participating and we can include it in the official we all have a source to use if we need to...?

message 19: by Martin (new)

Martin | 39 comments
-- and this may sound silly, but I know from experience that the greatest joys in reading Shakespeare are to find his magic in the plays that are hidden away. You think, why haven't I come across this before? For Candy it was AWTEW, for me it was TMWOW (the Merry Wives of Windsor). A random choice might work better than voting. Or perhpas we nominate someone new (Whitaker) to choose one of the plays about which they know almost nothing.

message 20: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2748 comments Mod
Martin said - I think the important thing is to decide how to choose the next play, not to keep pushing candidates.

I'm okay with that approach to figure out HOW to decide next play...

I believe just so the next couple of days...we might hear from others.

We've narrowed down the idea to a more popular play at the very least...

message 21: by Martin (new)

Martin | 39 comments
The point is that if people can introduce their edition, it acts as evidence that they are truly reading the play.

message 22: by Bruce (new)

Bruce | 27 comments And why exactly do we have to provide you with proof? Why would intelligent commentary simply be sufficient?

message 23: by Whitaker (new)

Whitaker (lechatquilit) Well, the thing is, you have no idea whether people are telling the truth or not. What's to stop anyone from just pulling information out from Amazon or whatever?

message 24: by Bruce (new)

Bruce | 27 comments Thats not really my issue here. I have produced a major Shakespeare festival, and read all of the plays multiple times. I've also seen multiple versions of the plays. I enjoy them in their classical BBC forms as well as in versions as silly as the 1935 Hollywood version of Midsummer - I mean Joe E. Brown Jimmy Cagney and Mickey Rooney - how can you not love it?

Each version of the play that is produced, illuminates it in some way. And as Harold Bloom pointed out in The Western Canon, Shakespeare illuminates everything that came before and after him. The point being, in a discussion of this kind, I'm interested in hearing a lot of points of view whether the person can provide a citation and evidence of close reading or not.

I have at least four versions of each of the plays under discussion, and would likely look at all of them - do I need to provide citations each time I comment. I don't know, maybe I'm just not crazy about rules, but thats my reaction.

message 25: by Whitaker (new)

Whitaker (lechatquilit) Um, I agree with Bruce. Sorry, I phrased my comment badly. I'm not sure it's useful to insist that people provide a reference to which version they are reading. If someone really wants to just shoot from the hip, providing a reference isn't going to really stop them. Plus, it starts to look a little too much like school.

message 26: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2748 comments Mod
Oh sorry, I only meant to suggest that I read online and select quotes if I feel they help me...or another person know what part of the play I am reading.

I see no reason to prove anything about any proof of reading.

I don't like too many rules either, Bruce...(I think thats goes without saying ha ha) and I just sometimes pull out quotes from what I'm reading as an aid.

The idea of a reading timeline is for those of us who enjoy reading a scene at a time and discussing. Of course we can all read ahead or the whole play if we like. I find I do both...but also like to not hear spoilers in such a reading...and tend to enjoy just focusing on each new scene.

Yu know, the other funny thing is, if someone wants to just jump in at any point doesn't want to read, or re-read the play, or join us in actually reading the play...that is their decision and their loss. It's always obvious if someone isn't actually reading a work...but I don't think those of us who are having the communal experience of a discussion should worry about such a participant. I think I understand what Martin is hoping for, not some kind of dictatorship but a communal reading...and I don't think we have to worry about it Martin.

There's room for everybody...and this isn't school, its for fun and thinking and dreaming...and if we're lucky...we might just learn something.


message 27: by Bruce (new)

Bruce | 27 comments Alright Candy - What you said!!

message 28: by Martin (new)

Martin | 39 comments
Are you suggesting, Bruce, that's its okay to join in a discussion of the read of a Shakespeare play without reading it yourself? If, as you say, you have read all the plays many times it is not clear that you would necessarily want to read one again in order to discuss it.

I think this is important. Two years ago I organised a Proust read -- it lasted over 12 months. Nothing was more annoying than people popping in to air their ideas on Proust who were not themselves engaged in the read. Whether they had, or had not, read it before made no difference. The experience of reading in a group gives a new awareness of a work, no matter how many times you have read it before, and comments from non-readers are, ultimately, not pertinent, bacause they can only offer information which you could get from critical sources anyway. They cannot share in the current reading experience. They can act, in fact, as serious distractions and time wasters. If you're reading something relatively unknown it is less likely to arise. If you're reading Hamlet, anyone can come in and have a go.

To say to someone, okay which edition are you reading, or okay what did you think of the last scene, is quite a good test of real reading. If you're not reading for real it's quite hard to bluff your way out of those questions.

message 29: by Bruce (new)

Bruce | 27 comments Martin,

To your questions

1. I don't have a problem with someone joining in a discussion based on whatever source of input they want. If they aren't currently reading, I would think that would become pretty obvious. That said, I would not do so. The whole point for me joining the group is to do a close reading of plays I love. But I don't feel the need to impose that view on any one else who might want to take part.

2. Are you suggesting that once you've read the plays, you would never want to read them again. Is there a number of readings that is sufficient. For Shakespeare!?? As I read your posts, your way to smart to have meant that, so I would ask you to just withdraw that comment.

3. I think the crux of this is, your comment. If you're reading Hamlet, anyone can come in and have a go. This is not okay with you as you only want shared readers to comment. In my mind, its okay for someone to post a thought based on their own experience of the play, whenever or however they got it. If they are really not either currently reading or deeply familiar with the play I'll ignore them eventually.

Clearly you have had a bad experience in the past and I sympathize. Equally clearly, I'm new to the discussion and don't wish to impose my views on any one else. You guys can set whatever rules you want.

I reserve the right to comment on my close reading of the text in any way I want, and not to feel as though I will be challenged to provide an edition reference. If your asking for an edition reference because the text doesnt seem to agree thats one thing, if its a way to challenge the individual, I'm uncomfortable with that.

Can we just agree to disagree on this subject and move right along?

message 30: by Martin (last edited Mar 08, 2009 10:00AM) (new)

Martin | 39 comments No Bruce we're in agreement here. Like you, I want to read the plays closely. Like you, I want to go on reading the plays. The present read is just another read in a long chain. "Bad experience in the past" is a bit too strong to explain this feeling. It was more a sense of justified irritation. I just had the idea that with more readers and universally known texts, we might hit the problem ourselves and wish we'd anticipated it. But I bow to superior pressure, so let's forget that idea.

So here's another idea you can shoot down (just kidding...) To choose our next play, we might go for,

A) Each reader nominates n plays (n is 4 perhaps) and the majority choice is read next time.


B) We elect by a similar nomination (each reader choosing one candidate) a person who then chooses the next play.

Being Americans, and loving DEMOCRACY, you'll all perhaps go for (A), but (B) really does have its advantages. The choice comes as a surprise (like the best birthday presents) and helps avoid a selection of "lowest common denominator" popularity -- Midsummer Night's Dream for example.

message 31: by Martin (new)

Martin | 39 comments
I suppose I'd better make some choices of my own. Okay, here are four plays,

Henry IV part 2
Winter's Tale

Alternatively I would nominate Candyminx to make the choice, who I think deserves a break for the work she's put into AWTEW and this thread.

message 32: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2748 comments Mod
You know waht? I really like the idea of suggesting a participant to choose a play. And then maybe if we read another one...if we don't all kill each other first, hee hee...seriously, I'm not serious...

That participant selects the next participant to choose a play. I kind of like the idea of not knowing what our next, next play would be.

Now you're going to all laugh because I was going to suggest that Bruce or Whitaker pick the play to read in next discussion...because they are just new here....and weren't in last discussion.

But I would also happily choose the play for our next reading.

I believe so far reading the posts here we have overlapping choices on a couple of the plays.

Winter's Tale
Midsummers Dream

Did we want to stick with the idea of alternating now a more popular or familiar mainstream play? And do the above each qualify?

message 33: by Bruce (new)

Bruce | 27 comments For me the choice of play would be a matter of total indifference. By which I mean, I would benefit I think from a close reading of any of the ones on Martin or Candys lists above. Just as long as we dont do Two Gents! And, I am also perfectly happy for Her Most Serene Minxiness to make the selectness.

message 34: by Candy (last edited Mar 08, 2009 12:48PM) (new)

Candy | 2748 comments Mod

Winter Tale


The Winter's Tale
The Taming of The Shrew
Twelfth Night


Richard III
12th Night


not "AWTEW"




Henry IV part 2
Winter's Tale

message 35: by Candy (last edited Mar 10, 2009 08:09PM) (new)

Candy | 2748 comments Mod
Let's see if anyone else has some more suggestions by Tues evening, okay?

message 36: by William (new)

William What a wild ride!

This thread began with Candy's post mentioning, among much else, that this web group has about 167 members and I there something we could do to inspire more participants?

The thread almost ended with an expression by Martin of concerns about readers who act as serious distractions and time wasters.

Thank you, Bruce, for making some sense of it all and helping us move forward to the point where we are able, if not to begin reading, at least to choose, the next play.

Will you allow me now to nominate something more specific than "not AWTEW"--not sure to whom, if anyone, I need address this question:

The Winter's Tale
Henry IV, Part 2

We need also to consider Martin's request not to begin too soon. Perhaps we all should state the earliest date on which we feel able to begin. For me, that can be tomorrow, but I want to wait until all who want to read are ready to begin.

I don't want to nominate you to be our moderator, Candy, (we don't need one), but I do hope that you will post the reading schedule for the play--your sample, using 2 days per scene, is good for me.

message 37: by Bruce (new)

Bruce | 27 comments Actually I wasnt voting - just commenting on films really - If I were voting - I think I would go for these

A Winters Tale
The Taming of the Shrew

message 38: by Bruce (new)

Bruce | 27 comments William

One of the things that impressed me as I was "lurking" around the edges of AWTEW was the depth, thoughtfulness, and quality of the posts from you, Martin, Mattew, and Candy. I am currently up to my rear end in about 8 books, one of which, due to the comments of her minxiness is 2666 - all 934 damn pages of it!!! Its going to be about 10 days or so before I will really come up for air. And, we have local elections in which I am involved, and the Town Meeting - ditto. So, for me its sometime around the 20th. I hope that works for all of you - I just don't want to let down the side once we get started.

message 39: by Candy (last edited Mar 08, 2009 03:54PM) (new)

Candy | 2748 comments Mod
William I am glad you agree with me, that I don't think we should start a new reading until end of March at least. (post#18).

I don't know what you mean by a "wild ride", but you made me chuckle. I think we have found out all kinds of fascinating things about online reading habits and this group in particular. I am really excited about finding this group and further explorations of the plays. I believe so far, this has been a fairly prodcutive discussion on reading and films etc Yipppee!

William thanks for the ideas of plays. You had said earlier in post #5 "anything but AWTEW", and I enjoyed the humour in your just carried it on in the list. And I thought you were open about any play by the comment. All is good, the more the merrier!

Matthew, Whitaker, William, Bruce, Martin and others...I contacted Goodreads saying we didn't have an active moderator and I would volunteer...if only till we figured things out...and Goodreads wrote back saying "you're now a moderator" ha ha . I sure didn't mean to LEAP into the role: I just wanted to find out how we arranged to volunteer or find a moderator!. And I wouldn't want to offend anyone else who would love to do the errands of moderator. So I suggest, um, we figure that out and we can consider my "moderator status" as temporary...or I don't mind it being permanent but would also like someone else to volunteer too...if one of you all has time. I think two active moderators would be a great idea.

Here is an update of play suggestions so far, in no particular order...just for the fun of seeing them:


Winter Tale


The Winter's Tale
The Taming of The Shrew
Twelfth Night


A Winters Tale
The Taming of the Shrew


The Winter's Tale
Henry IV, Part 2




Henry IV part 2
Winter's Tale

message 40: by William (last edited Mar 13, 2009 06:19AM) (new)

William Egad, two living, breathing moderators! Too much is enough, already!!

Just so you know: if nominated, I won't run; if elected, I won't serve.

And yet, I now know to whom I should have addressed my "Please, may I..." question about nominating plays.

I know how one does a Happy Face :) though you shouldn't expect any from cranky ole me.

But how does one do Yer 'Bedient Servant or A Tug of the Old Forelock to Yer?, eh?!

Seriously, I'm happy that we are able to wait for all to get on board for the next play. It gives me time to finish Greenblatt's Will in the World and get a good start in Holden's William Shakespeare , but please don't tell Matthew, for whom historians are great provokers.

It would be helpful to know which versions of a play are being read, and why readers have chosen them, though in my case the answer would be, quite simply, availability.

And if would be great to know your online source(s),Candy, if only to be able to copy/paste lines from the play. I marvelled at your ability to quote so many lines with just the right spacing.

Does anyone here own/use a ebook reader? Has there been a discussion, perhaps somewhere else in GoodReads, about the benefits and problems reading text online or on a screen generally?

message 41: by Candy (last edited Mar 08, 2009 08:13PM) (new)

Candy | 2748 comments Mod
I have a feeling you may have misunderstood my predicament in my previous post.

Don't worry William, I'm an anarchist...and I thought I explained that I wanted to ask Goodreads about our "missing moderator" and moderators in general and about getting volunteers...but during my query...the folks at Goodreads automatically put me on as a moderator. Making anyone, including you William, uncomfortable was the furthest thing I meant to do by pursuing the advice of the Goodreads webmasters.

I actually thought it was a funny anecdote seeing as I had earlier said I wouldn't make a very good moderator seeing as I don't believe in censorship. I'm sorry you didn't see the humour in it...I was however laughing quite tickled when Otis wrote me an e-mail!

I am having trouble understanding your post above William...but maybe after I have a good nights sleep it will make sense.

I am however sorry to hear you are feeling cranky and I hope you feel better soon.


message 42: by Matthew (last edited Mar 08, 2009 09:07PM) (new)

Matthew | 91 comments Well, a lot has been said since I was last here.

I must say that I vehemently disagree with Martin's comment that viewable productions should play no part in our choice. It's true that we didn't choose AWTEW that way but so what? To put so much emphasis on editions rather than productions disrespects the fact that the plays are plays and not books. For the same reason that I suggest alternating between the obscure and the mainstream, I suggest alternating between the oft and rarely performed. It's interesting to compare and there's no need to choose two different plays the same way. I also object to the implication that the available performances somehow lack legitimacy on the grounds that they are "not proper stage productions anyway". If we use that as our criteria, we should only be allowed to consider outdoor productions on thrust stages built to the same specifications as the original Globe Theatre.

Most of all, I disagree with the contention that a comment shouldn't be directed at another (quite obviously). This is a discussion. If you don't enjoy interchange and the exchange of ideas, there is very little point in talking about art at all. I have no desire to participate in a group where all we do is pontificate our knowledge to each other. I prefer to converse and take on each other's ideas by the horns. I expect people to find certain points of mine absurd and to say so; I reserve the right to do the same with them. If we can't do this and still end the day as friends, we have no business discussing art.

I do agree with the suggestion that we adopt the "no spoiler" rule even with the most famous works.

message 43: by William (new)

William The "no spoiler" rule worked for me with AWTEW.

Vigorous participation in this thread by a returning Matthew and newly arrived Bruce and Whittaker have reinforced my view of our discussions of plays:

1. we are not all in them for the same reasons;

2. we will not all participate in the same ways;

3. we will not all come to the same understandings--even after a good night's sleep!

All in all, a wild ride, but not anarchy. And, yes, some of us will be cranky.

message 44: by Matthew (new)

Matthew | 91 comments I apologize if I am cranky. It is not my intention. It is just that I feel very strongly about these matters and we are all a bit limited by the impersonality of the internet. Once again, we should be able to confront each other and still part as friends.

message 45: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2748 comments Mod
Matthew fantastic insights, great to "see" you!

I know I sounded as if I put less emphasis on performance than text which I didn't mean to do...and I agree with your thoughts here more than I can emphasize. Having said that, maybe I'd like to articulate the feeling of defending the texts in say, Martins' posts. What I took from Martin's plea to share our editions or reading sources is a common request in book clubs least in my experience. I don't take it as being "authoritative" or fascist heh heh...but as so we can see the differences. When I was using my online source for "AWTEW" there were discrepancies between the editions. Actual tense and words were different in two cases. My version was actually missing a word! It had quite a different feeling from one edition to another...and it's not a matter of "right or wrong" but another opportunity to study the characters.

And...although it may seem that being so enthusiastic about the actual texts of the play lessens the value of performance...that is not what I am feeling by returning to the texts at all.

The sense of stature I am applying to the texts is a reaction to place all secondary literature in it's place.

I enjoy secondary literature...don't get me wrong...I have all kinds of books about the plays, Shakespeare...nothing or any secondary literature, or critic has been introduced here that I don't have on my shelves nearby or have read.

But I tend to take all secondary literature, even Harold Bloom, or Anthony Holden, or Northrop Frye, or Doctor Johnson, or Frances Yates...people much more likely immersed in study of the work than I...with a grain of salt. I do not put them ahead of the actual plays. This is what I have taken from Martin's thoughts, for better or worse and it's a feeling I have too.

So it's not that I am dismissing the gosh, I own ridiculous copies of the plays on dvd and husband is like "whats with the costume dramas?" teasing me. It's that I prefer a more immediacy to reading the works and their performances. I prefer to hear what you or Bruce feel about the plays that an academic text actually! But I also enjoy reading about the we all seem to do. I suppose I look at secondary literature as a filler for performance...when performance isn't an option.

Matthew says I have no desire to participate in a group where all we do is pontificate our knowledge to each other. I prefer to converse and take on each other's ideas by the horns. I expect people to find certain points of mine absurd and to say so; I reserve the right to do the same with them. If we can't do this and still end the day as friends, we have no business discussing art.

I agree completely.

I think it's neurotic to take anything said about a book or play or movie a bookclub discussion personally. And I think locking horns about characters, plots etc etc is the fun stuff.

message 46: by Bruce (new)

Bruce | 27 comments One of the things that I always find both interesting and illuminating is the choices that director's make when they do Shakespeare, or anyone else for that matter. Each generation views the immortal in a different light. Try reading Charles Lambs takes on the plays published at the height of the Victorian era, they are practically unrecognizable.

So I certainly don't suggest replacing a close reading of text with performance. But I do believe that performance is how these were meant to be encountered, and that its instructive to ask ourselves, why is this scene/character/subplot cut and why? Does it change the essential meaning of the play and how?

And coming back to our friend the 1935 Midsummer - how many thousands of people encountered Shakespeare for the first time through that medium I wonder? If even a small number were engaged from that group, then its a worthwhile presentation.

message 47: by Bruce (new)

Bruce | 27 comments So Candy - In the Library Board of Trustees which I am a member of, the President always wears her tiara to the meetings. Will you be wearing a Crown as our moderator?

message 48: by Matthew (new)

Matthew | 91 comments One of the things that I always find both interesting and illuminating is the choices that director's make when they do Shakespeare, or anyone else for that matter. Each generation views the immortal in a different light.

Hear hear! I couldn't have said it better.

As for my mild but lower enthusiasm for the 1935 Midsummer, I love Cagney, De Havilland, and co. as much as anyone but I don't think any of them (especially Rooney) were at the top of their game in this particular piece. They all had their best work ahead of them at that point. Nevertheless, if we choose that play, I will happily re-visit that film in addition to the others I can find.

message 49: by Candy (last edited Mar 09, 2009 07:27AM) (new)

Candy | 2748 comments Mod
I do have a tiara Bruce! I wore it when I got married in Vegas this past October. I wear it all day long, especially when I'm typing pretentious thoughts about the Bard. Isn't saying "the Bard" pretentious just on its own?

message 50: by Bruce (new)

Bruce | 27 comments Nah - its just less letters to type than Shakespeare

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