Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Day 2

Today was a long day, despite the fact that it was actually the shortest on the schedule for the week. It started out inauspiciously for me: I missed my train in the morning, despite arriving before the scheduled departure (I missed the note that the train could leave up to 5 minutes early), meaning I had to take the 7:40 train instead. This is supposed to get me into DC at 8:25, but it didn't get me there until 8:45. Therefore, I was a little bit late. Then, the MARC train experience home somehow took nearly two hours, complete with sitting in the train at the station from 5:10 (its scheduled leave time) until 5:40, then not arriving in Baltimore until around 7:00. I'm now home and can barely keep my eyes open.

That being said, I enjoyed things today, starting from and interesting lecture that led things off, which claimed that, in Taming of the Shrew, Kate was not actually tamed, but was rather unmasked by Petruchio to reveal her true self. I'm not sure that I agree, but it did get me thinking about the play in less of the limited way than I was before. I think the play can become palatable if I tell myself that Kate is making a conscious choice of compromise - particularly in that really mean-spirited sun/moon scene in Act IV - in order to let everything go more smoothly in the play. That, in a way, makes the play less about the destruction of a powerful woman, but maybe about Kate realizing different kind of power, setting her frame of mind to do something and accomplishing it for everyone's benefit.

I reminds me a little bit of Chapter 24 of To Kill a Mockingbird, the chapter in which Atticus delivers the news to Alexandra and Calpurnia (and thus Scout) that Tom Robinson has been killed. Calpurnia goes to break the news to Helen Robinson, while Alexandra eventually controls her tears and returns, unfazed, to the missionary circle meeting she was hosting in her living room. Scout, or at least the adult Jean Louise, narrates that, "If Aunt Alexandra could be a lady at a time like this, then so could I," and it seems that Harper Lee is making the argument that a lady doesn't show what she's feeling; she instead does whatever she can to make things go smoothly for everyone else. There's a power in that, and I think Kate might be showing that power here.

I'm not sure, though. I still think it's a pretty brutal play.

Another interesting highlight of the day was touring the actual library within the Folger Library, which houses lots and lots of very rare Shakespeare and early English literature. We got to see one of the original First Folios, and a lot of other interesting and very old books, but my favorite was a 500-year old grammar book from England, which was full of the same sort of doodles from the student that we see today in our classrooms.


Eric said...

That sounds like a really great program. I had the good fortune to grow up in DC, and my 9th grade English teacher took us to see a play at the Folger. It totally changed the way I thought about Shakespeare. In college I had the opportunity to take a class on the Bard and modern adaptations. My favorites were King Lear and Bond's adaptation, so I was struck by your comments a couple of post's ago about how much you hated the Center Stage production a few seasons ago. I can't say that I loved it, in fact I have forgotten most everything about it, which makes me wonder what you hated so much!

Eric R

Michael said...

Did you get to handle the books?

Teach Baltimore said...

Eric: A big part of it was not being able to hear the actors, and I thought the actor playing Edgar was especially poor. I will admit my opinions were probably influenced by my drama snob friends, both of whom loved Lear and hated this production. What play did you see at Folger?

Michael: Didn't actually handle them, but got to be about 2 inches from them!

Eric said...

We saw the Merchant of Venice. I guess what really changed for me was that I began to see Shakespeare as something that I might be interested in. I don't recall any stunning realizations about the particular play, just the idea that Shakespeare might be relevant to me life in the twentieth century, which for me in ninth grade was quite new and novel.

From what a remember of the Center Stage King Lear production, I can;t say that I disagree with your assessment of the Edgar actor. And I do recall that several of the people I was with weren't terribly impressed with it, but I love the play so much that I think I just enjoyed it.