Shakespeare In Italy: The Second Press Release

‘Our purpose was twofold,’ Bob Ellis explained in Adelaide yesterday. ‘To show how Shakespeare, the provincial sluggard, might have begun to write good plays; and to help out the RSC, Bell Shakespeare and Stratford Ontario by expanding with it the Shakespeare canon.

‘For too long they have been tarting up and dressing down and rock’n'rolling and psychedelicking and ‘modernising’ the better Shakespeare works, and blood-and-goring the lesser ones, and, even worse, putting on The White Devil and The Duchess of Malfi and ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore, really bad works that were written by his cheap and nasty contemporaries, just to stay in business.

‘With Shakespeare In Italy they will have another play to add to their repetoires. It is better, some say, than twenty-seven of the existing ones and gives some sense of who the author may have been and what he was up to.

‘And having done that, they might consider adding to their seasons other works of Shakespeare quality like The Crucible, A Man For All Seasons, Victory, Luther, Brief Lives, Paul, Shakespeare In Love, Anonymous, Rome and I, Claudius, and restore their lost box office fortunes that way.

‘The success of our play might also encourage some younger writers to go to work replacing those dramas — an Edward III, a Robin Hood, A King Arthur, a Henry VII, a James I — that might have been written by Shakespeare’s heirs had not Cromwell closed down the theatres in 1642.

‘This play is a start to that end.

‘If we can do it, hundreds can.’

Shakespeare In Italy, by Bob Ellis and Denny Lawrence, with music by Chris Neal, opens in the Holden Street Theatre, Hindmarsh, on Thursday, August 9 and has eighteen performances.

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  1. Mr Ellis, do you care for me to tell you the reason why this article sits empty of comment?

    “It is better, some say”

    The administration of “tough love” is always a thankless task.

    • What, exactly, are you driving at?

      • Just this: you have squeezed every last drop of blood from this Shakespearean authorship question without offering more than conjecture, you have distilled this heady brew of self approbation, in the form of - “it is better, some say [than X of Shakespeare’s] – well beyond the recommended 80º C-85º C.

        Let me offer this as a piece of advice to you Mr Ellis – let others determine the worth of your play according to their taste, conscience and experience in such matters.
        Coming from you, as it does in these pages so often, there is the undeniable stench of hubris and bravado and, dare I say it, bias.
        Never a good look.

        When is the play coming to the east coast?
        Do you have dates/venues?

        I wish you all the very best.

        • Those rating it better than twenty-seven of Shakespeare’s plays include John Bell, Chris Schacht, Mike Rann, Craig Lahiff, John Ralston Saul and, I think, Bob Carr.

          You by contrast have judged it without seeing it and are banned for life.

          • Mr Ellis,
            You are obviously very tired and anxious about the upcoming run for your play. It’s quite understandable.
            So I shall forgive you your…comprehension/reading difficulties; your resort to fallacy.
            Never libel me again.
            Let’s never speak of it again.

            Two quick questions;
            The east coast dates and venues - do you have them?

            And, are those “critical” reviews, I mean the ones from the men you cite above, are they on public record or were they given over in the pub with a slap on the back and a raising of a glass?
            Or we’re they given over the phone, as in,
            “Hi Bob, yes, ..ok…well no…no, sorry I can’t make it, but…no, no, me too, I liked your work, I really, really do! You want to know how much I like it? Well, I think it’s better than 4 Milton’s, 7 Shelley’s, 3 Dickens, 4 Bellow’s, 3 Robbe-Grillet’s, 2 Faulkner’s, 27 Shakespeare’s, 262 Dumas’, 4 Middleton’s , 6 Brecht’s, 2 Williams’, 7 O”Neill’s, 1 Pirandello, and exactly 2 from Pinter, Beckett and Genet.”

            I can certainly imagine a conversation like that - why, I have them all the time! Except I seem to have them about lunch time sandwich choices - I like a light caesar salad better than 4 ham salad sandwiches, better than 6 meat pies (no sauce), 2 msssaman curry’s, or even a large carton of chocolate move!
            So yes, I can very well see how that conversation might take place.

            Oh, one last thing before I forget. I’m a little confused, has the play been performed before?
            The reason I ask is, where could Ralston Saul, Rann, Bell or Schacht and Lahiff, have seen it to pass such judicious verdicts?
            Don’t tell me they’ve judged a work without seeing it???.
            Ban them Bob, ban their stinking lying, sycophantic hides!!

            There’s but one rule here at Tabletalk, and that’s “No Judging Something That You Haven’t Seen”, and these wily, flattering bastards, go ahead and break it!

            I’m outraged.

            I bet you are too!

            • They have either read it it or seen one of the two April readings of it.

              You are a cunt and banned for life after August 9, the opening night.

              • Mr Ellis, calm yourself. If you cannot respond to these easy questions how on earth will you fare when the critics come at you?
                Now, a few questions for clarification.
                1. Who exactly read it?

                2. Who exactly saw it?

                3. Did those that saw it see the entire reading? Or was it a partial viewing? Did they duck out for a quick lunch? Or a few quick drinks? Do you think those that read it were at a disadvantage to those that saw it? Even partially?

                4. Did Bob Carr see it or read it? Your confusion as to whether he did or did not is most troubling.

                5. Now, finally: is not a play a thing for viewing? Surely a “reading” of a play is akin to looking at the skeleton, the mere armature, of a Ruben’s nude? Surely? It would be like reading 145 pages of White’s “Voss” and then offering judgement? Surely?

                No, no, no Mr Ellis, this will not do. A play is a thing of many parts – a constellation of players illuminating the written Word; actors, lights, sets, music, movement, shadow, sweat, wonder, terror, joy, colour…
                No, no, no. This will not do at all.

                Till I receive clarification on these matters, and in the interests of verity and fairness, I will disregard your preposterous claim as to the contents of my underwear.

                Oh, before I forget – I do believe you owe me an apology for your libelous claim that I passed judgement on your play. As you can see, and if you can read, I did no such thing.

                Thank you Mr Ellis, I humbly accept.
                (Now I won’t have to involve my father. He’s looking to acquire some more Sunshine Coast hinterland for his retirement).

                I shall await your response patiently.

                • Schacht, Rann, Goers and Vini Ciccarello MP, Rann’s speechwriter Andrew Ramsey and some elderly chuckling civilians saw it read. Lahiff saw Act One of a rehearsal yesterday and is coming back on Thursday to see Act Two. Carr, Bell, Beresford, Ralston Saul and Rhys Muldoon have read it. More to come.

  2. I have heard it said that Reader1′s musical “Everything’s coming up Buber” is getting noticed in summer stock in upstate New York, with Dustin Hoffman showing some interest.

    There is a strong Buber revival going on with competing productions of
    “Much Ado about Buber” and “Waiting for Buber” in the small dinner theatre market of Orange County.

    I’m trying to organize a business trip to Adelaide to and coincide with your Shakespeare play Bob.

  3. It reminds me of Aeschylus sending up Euripides by adding the phrase “lost his bottle of oil” onto the sonorous and dramatic declamations.

    In Aristophanes ‘The Frogs’ that is.

    One of the great plays of the world, written in 405 BCE.

    Better than Shakespeare??

    Does it really matter? All are wonderful.

  4. I saw “Kiss Me, Kierkegaard” last winter in a Hong Kong karaoke bar.
    It was depressing.

    The matinee however was a rousing production of “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas a Village Commune”
    Who would have thought that dialectical materialism and boobs went so well together?
    I certainly didn’t, and boy, was I pleasantly surprised!

    My all time favourite though has to be “How To Succeed In Kantianism Without Really Trying”.

    You know the feeling you get when you just can’t turn away for a moment for fear of missing something?
    Well, that was me.
    Truth be told, I peed into my empty drink bottle and splashed a bit onto the coat of the woman sitting in front of me. I know, I know, but I couldn’t help it - it was right at the bit where the epistemological foundations of his transcendental idealism were being sung to the tune of “Get outta my car and into my dreams” by Billy Ocean!

    Who can blame me, right?

    What a night that was!
    The stuff of memories!!

    • Excellent.

    • Sexist prick.

      • Well, well, well, if it isn’t the lead from “Urinetown”!
        Hello Reader1!
        Finally got your mouth off it I see.
        Good, now I can put my hand on it!
        About time too.

        Hello big fella, long time no see!

        Now, what were you saying Reader 1?
        Yes, of course, my comparison of you and a bowling ball was inspired, I know!

    • Fedallah, I read your two posts above, and I wondered why you have this need to hurt people, does it give your some kind of weird pleasure.
      You must know that Bob is anxious about his play, why not give some encouragement instead.
      Maybe this is just some good old Anglo bantering or bullying between mates, which I never understood and never will.

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