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Index: Film, Television, Video & Theatre

Dead heads.

Bram Stoker: ‘May I say, inasmuch as I was Henry Irving’s manager during the whole period of his occupancy of the Lyceum Theatre, and therefore, lest anyone should attribute to him directly or indirectly any of the practices I have mentioned, that at the old Lyceum we did not have a claque, though certain individuals were perpetually importuning us to engage one; and, further, that we had no need for dead-heads to fill empty seats. Of course in all managements there are “lean” as well as “fat” times; but when the lean time showed signs of approach we took care to “put on” the play always ready for presentation on the stage, and by so doing did away with all necessity or temptation to produce an extraneous appearance of public desire.’

Writing to Shakespeare.

Bonnefoy: ‘…you’re standing in a corner of the theatre. It’s cold, and a wind seems to be blowing. You’re talking to several men, young and old. One of them will be Hamlet; another, Ophelia. Do you have an idea to explain to them? No. Hamlet is being written here, at this very moment, in the sentences that come to you, that take you by surprise. It’s virtually an improvisation, over several days divided between your table—I don’t know where—and the stage: a text, certainly, but one you cross out off-the-cuff, as when you understand—for example, at this very instant—that your future Hamlet doesn’t grasp all that well what you’re trying to tell him.’

Three essays on ‘Romeo and Juliet’.

Hoyt Rogers: ‘The heart of the play—the “heartless” heart—is the final scene of Act IV. Ill-assorted, often omitted, it takes on its full meaning only in retrospect. The House of Capulet is in mourning: the Nurse babbles her sorrow, Juliet’s parents are repentant, and Paris joins them in their laments, flat as his platitudes may sound. The concluding vignette leaves all that behind, looping back to the comic vein of the play’s first half.’

Out of the past.

Alana Shilling: ‘Even the most creative of past productions do not sever ties with the values of the masque. One of the greatest innovations in the definitive 1970 Midsummer, is the aforementioned doubling of roles, which brings Titania/Hippolyta and Oberon/Theseus together. The inevitable emphasis on the parallels of the human and fairy lands that this pairing entails is a gesture not unlike the identification between allegorical fantasy and earthly reality so dear to courtly masques. Moreover, Brook aimed to capture the imagination by eroding the boundary between stage and audience. These are principles dear to the masque.’

Zero Dark Uncertainty.

A. Jay Adler: ‘Because some critics of Zero Dark Thirty come to the film seeking in it the simplicity of an ideological stance rather than the human complexity of art, they seek to tally factual representations as politics on an abacus of acts. They lose interest in the behavior of humans.’

A pataphysical education.

A Fortnightly Review of ‘Pataphysics: A Useless Guide Andrew Hugill MIT Press 2012 | 296 pp | £17.95 $24.95 By Paul Cohen. Bien ‘pataphysic à vous! SINCE ‘PATAPHYSICS IS still not a household word after more than a century, at least in the Anglophone world, some background would no doubt be appropriate. ‘Pataphysics is the […]

Mrs Dalloway. Episode two.

It is so nice to be out in the air. If I stand quite still, I can be a poplar tree in early dawn. Hyacinths, fawns. Running water and garden lilies. London is so dreary, compared with being in the country with my father and the dogs. I am a pirate, reckless, unscrupulous, riding on the omnibus up Whitehall, all sails spread. I am free…’

Mrs Dalloway. Episode one.

You have such a command of language. You can put things as editors like them to be put. If you, Richard, advise me, and Hugh writes for me, I am sure of getting it right. I already have a selection of choice phrases use – such ‘we are of the opinion that the times are ripe’. Something about ‘the superfluous youth of our ever-increasing population’. A phrase about ‘what we owe to the dead’. That sort of thing.

Dramatising Mrs Dalloway.

Michelene Wandor: One must engage with the rhythms and the style of the original, so that the dramatising process remains faithful to these, as well as to the more obvious issues of story, etc. The consummate dramatiser is also a consummate critical reader, for whom part of the dramatisation is the challenge of including not only elements within the prose, but also, in a sense, re-reading the imperfections, the contradictions, the lacunae, even, in the text. This is essential because, of course, one is reading from the present, with one’s critical insights, whatever they are.

Dickens in the details at Downton.

There are gaps in narratives. Viewers use these gaps in instalment publication to imagine what happened, to fill in. Characters themselves may change a great deal and also have new relationships to one another: so not that character-dominated, an ensemble with a lack of overall narrative closure, complicated and slowly evolving network of character relationships.

An ‘Iron Lady’ turns to rust.

Drew Moore: In Streep’s Thatcher we see a ball-busting leader well equipped with warmongering and anti-socialist rhetoric, as well as a schoolmarm rapidly alienating her cowering Cabinet. Most affecting, we see a feeble woman trying to preserve her dignity surrounded by guardians who have already consigned her to senility. One of the most enjoyable scenes is one in which the utterly lucid patient, with acerbic wit, puts her patronizing doctor in his place.

• Event: ‘3 Carsons out of Texas’ at the Gershwin Hotel, New York, 20 October – 20 November 2011

[Announcement from The Gershwin Hotel and Suzanne Tremblay] – “3 Carsons out of Texas” – L.M.Kit Carson, film pioneer; Rev Goat Carson, Grammy-winning lyricist; and Neke Carson, a multimedia artist – are the subjects of a special month-long event at the Gershwin Hotel in Manhattan, 20 October to 20 November 2011. The event is ‘A […]

• You could tell by the way he talked, Shakespeare was no elitist.

And there’s another splendid irony for you — in the suggestion that Shakespeare himself could not have been an elitist “in the country of his birth” by using words that any English speaker could not readily have understood at the time.

The Life and Death of Marina Abramović.

Anthony Howell: It is suggested that Marina’s love-life has been as devastating as her relationship with her mother – and finally a transfigured Marina, Christ-like, ascends into the flies. Well, it’s all a bit mawkish, frankly, and in general I feel that in the second half the spectacle runs out of inspiration.

· Two things you can learn about Stanley Kubrick by talking to Jan Harlan.

L.M. Kit Carson: As Harlan puts it: “Stanley got truly satisfied that this piece by Strauss was all he needed. To make the question remain…about whether there might be some deliberation effecting us somewhere in the Universe.”