Friday, December 31, 2010

Notes on "Casting Shakespeare's Plays" - Chapter 4

Q1 of 2 Henry 6 has fewer spoken lines than appear in F, but does not require fewer actors, which contradicts the theory that Q1 is printed from a version cut for touring (for size requirements) (78).

The quarto of 3 Henry 6, like the quarto of 2 Henry 6, is shorter than its appearance in F, but does not require significantly fewer actors to play, and therefore should not be thought of as a version cut for touring (79).

"The casting requirements for F (Richard III) are almost the same as for Q1" (80). The idea of plays cut down so they could more easily tour is one of the center pieces of the new bibliographic concept of these pirated bad quartos, and while Gurr has presented some very good evidence to counter those theories, King sure is helping.

King takes the F stage direction from Midsummer "They sleepe all the Act" to mean the lovers sleep through an onstage musical interlude, but I think it is rather a sign to indicate that they remain on stage, even though they don't say anything. A signal to a reader, or perhaps even an actor, that they are not to go anywhere when they've run out of lines (84).

The quarto text of Henry V also requires a similar number of actors as the Folio text; 20 men and 4 boys in Q, 23 men and 5 boys in F. Even though F contains about twice as many spoken lines as Q, it is therefore unlikely, as Greg suggests, that Q is an adaptation for touring. Taylor's proposition that Q is a reduced cast version (for nine or ten men and two boys) is also inaccurate in light of this evidence (87).

King notes, of Troilus and Cressida, that "the fourteen men required in fifteen principal parts are significantly more than the average of ten men required in principal parts parts for other Shakespeare plays, and this lends support to the argument that the play was written for private performance" (89). But what about the 20 men and 4 boys that the shorter Q of Henry V requires? Why not commentary on that?

King, T. J. The Casting of Shakespeare's Plays: London actors and their roles, 1590 - 1642. Cambridge: Cambridge UP: 1992. Print.

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