Friday, March 4, 2011

Bookend Project :: post-production

I am so pleased to announce that we have successfully closed The Bookend Project and made it to spring break. This is the first project conceived strictly from scholarly interests of mine, and it has been just an extraordinary journey since September. It's not over yet. Over break, I am revising my seminar paper into a full-fledged article that will be published later this year. I will also be working it into a conference proposal, so it's not really getting put to bed yet. Which is good! I'm not ready to let this one go. I feel as though I have only just begun to answer how Shakespeare's revenge play alters from the time he writes Titus Andronicus to his late masterpiece of The Tempest.

Directing these plays, rather than acting in them, I think has also distanced me from answering this question. In some ways it will be easier to think about it with some critical distance, but in other ways it is more difficult. I experienced these plays less viscerally than I've ever experienced a RAW play. I didn't live it. (I think it's also one of the reasons why I feel less post-RAW depression, too!) I feel like an outsider, a little lost without having a perspective from within the play. I am in need of a focal point, a way into the play, and now I'm faced with the question of whose perspective I will choose.

My seminar paper focuses on Lavinia and Caliban as sites of violence in the two plays, but perhaps in my revision I will think about the perpetrators as well. Here's a peek at the current version of my introduction.

Economics of Language in Titus Andronicus and The Tempest
Audio, Sexual, Linguistic, and Textual Currencies
In the Bookend Project, a dual theatrical production of Titus Andronicus and The Tempest, I aim to examine the arc of Shakespeare’s revenge play from his earliest tragedy to his final masterpiece. The Bookend Project employs the same cast for both plays -- thirteen actors in Titus Andronicus and twelve actors in The Tempest. My overall purpose in doubling actors across the two plays is to explore similar and oppositional ways that various characters experience vengeance. Whenever constructing doubles within a single show or across multiple shows, I look to forge unusual connections between characters. At first they might seem intensely oppositional or perhaps even completely unrelated, but upon closer examination a connection can be made. I have chosen in the Bookend Project to double the roles of Lavinia in Titus Andronicus and Caliban in The Tempest. In this paper, I will be exploring the doubling of Lavinia and Caliban in terms of each character’s relationship to speech and language. There is an economics at work in how they use speech and language, within the language itself (speech vs. silence), as well as how  different currencies of sexuality and violence are incorporated into it. I suggest that a certain amount of “audio capital” exists for each character in whether they speak or whether they are silent (or silenced). Connotations of sexuality and violence in language are accumulated in the characters’ speech as capital. Such capital would be valued in exchange as a kind of “currency,” though I have spent more time examining the characters’ accumulation of this capital, rather than speculating upon what might be gained in exchange for it. The larger aim of the Bookend Project is to illuminate how the notion of vengeance changes from Shakespeare’s earliest revenge play and is utterly transformed in The Tempest. I hope in this paper to open an avenue of exploration specifically related to the economics of language and silence in these two plays, how sexuality and violence are used as linguistic currencies, and begin to suggest how the economics of language can transform vengeance to forgiveness in Shakespeare’s revenge play.

1 comment:

  1. I really think you should submit this paper for a conference or something. I think many people would be interested in this doubling of actors and your ideas on vengeance. It goes beyond the typical academic exploration and moves into performance, and I think it's a side most of us grad students rarely get to experience.


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