MRDS Newsletter, Fall 1996 Issue
Session I. Cross-Dressing in the Theater of Medieval and Early Modern Europe
Presider: Robert L.A. Clark, Kansas State University
- "Cross-Dressing and Spiritual Identity in the Fleury Playbook"
John Marlin, Clarion University
- "Erasmus's 'Morosopher' and Ben Jonson's Morose, or The Silenced Man"
Stephen F. Evans, University of Kansas
- "Patterns of Female Impersonation in Plays at Cambridge University"
Michael Shapiro, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Session II. From Mankind to Marlowe: Thirty Years Later
Presider: Lawrence M. Clopper, Indiana University
Respondent: David M. Bevington, University of Chicago
- "Drama Between Mankind & Marlowe: Merely 'jiggling veins of rhyming mother-wits'?"
Paul Whitfield White, Purdue University
- "The Morality Theory of Sixteenth-Century Drama and the Problem of Binarial Criticism"
Kent Cartwright, University of Maryland
- "From Mankind to Marlowe, from Brooke to Bevington (and Bérubé): Revolution and Reformation in the Institutional
Genealogy of Modern Medieval Drama Studies"
James J. Paxson, University of Florida
1997 MRDS at Kalamazoo
May 8-11, 1997
Sacrament and Sacrilege in Medieval and Renaissance Drama
Organizer & Presider: Gerard NeCastro, University of Maine
- "Untransubstantiated Hosts and Royal Litter: Sacrament and Sacrilege in The Tragedy of Miriam"
Elizabeth Mazzola, CUNY
- "The Jew and the Sacred: Historical Configurations"
Lara Bieler Kwalbrun, CUNY
- "Sacrilege and Grotesque Realism in the Digby Mary Magdelene"
Victor I. Scherb, University of Texas at Tyler
Theorizing the Records: Methodological Approaches to the Production and Use of Edited Dramatic Extracts
Organizer: James C. Cummings, University of Leeds
Presider: Jesse D. Hurlbut, Brigham Young University
- "What is Drama? Considering Some Drunken Ghosts"
Anne Brannen, Duquesne University
- "The Space of Spectacle and the Place of Text: Representations of the Resurrection at Beverley Minster c. 1200"
Patricia Badir, University of British Columbia
- "Contexts, Questions and Confusions: Dramatic Activity in Norfolk"
Presenter: James C. Cummings, University of Leeds
Respondent: Theresa Coletti, University of Maryland
European Civic and Religious Spectacle
Organizer & Presider: Karen Middaugh, Rocky River, OH
- "The Sound of Civic Spectacle: Noise at Burgundian Ceremonial Entries"
Jesse D. Hurlbut, Brigham Young University
- "The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian with the Hobby Horses and the Turks: A Catalan Corpus Christi Play"
Max Harris, University of Wisconsin at Madison
- "Forgetting the Old Testament Heroines: The Politics of Praise in Elizabethan Royal Pageantry"
Donald V. Stump, Saint Louis University
from Business Meeting
May 10, 1996
Larry Clopper, Presiding
- The minutes from the last meeting were presented and approved as written.
- Jesse Hurlbut read the Treasurer's Report.
- Larry Clopper encouraged the active recruitment of new members into the Society.
- The new Treasurer will investigate possible means for facilitating the payment of dues by non-U.S. Society members.
- Larry Clopper gave a brief history of the organizational structure of the Society (e.g., Officers and Court Members as
dictated by the MLA, etc.) and recommended conducting a single business meeting instead of two (the preliminary
Executive Meeting and the general Business Meeting). For this year, then, the nomination of new officers and council
members as well as the selection of session topics for future meetings will be conducted in the open business meeting.
A brief discussion ensued which suggested that we articulate more clearly the role of the Council. The floor was then
open for nominations for Council Members. Nominations were suspended when it was discovered there were no
vacancies in the Council for this year. [Since the meeting, it has been determined that there are indeed vacancies. The
process of nomination will take place by correspondence over the next few weeks.]
- Topics for future sessions. It was voted to accept the following topics and organizers for sessions at future meeting:
"Sacrament as Sacrilege in Medieval and Renaissance Drama" (Gerard NeCastro)
"European Civic and Religious Spectacle" (Karen L. Middaugh)
"Theorizing the Records: Methodological Approaches to the Production and Use of Edited Dramatic Extracts" (James C. Cummings)
"Homoeroticism and Homophobia in Early Drama" (Gerard NeCastro)
"Framing Early Drama" (John Coldewey)
Other topics remaining for future sessions:
"Images of Medieval Drama" (Gordon Kipling)
"Heresies in Medieval Drama Studies" (Gordon Kipling)
"Patronage and Regional Traveling Companies" (Sandy Johnston)
"Boy's Drama in the Renaissance" (...)
"Staging the Medieval Body" (Bob Clark)
"Inter-Art Perspectives of Medieval Drama" (Kristin Rygg)
"Anti-Theatricality in Early Drama" (Margaret Pappano)
- Translation Series. Steve Wright reported that he has received page proofs for the first volume of the Translation Series
and positive comments from external reviewers for three other volumes. Additional volumes are also in various stages
- SITM Conference. Sandy Johnston gave a brief report on the SITM Conference in Toronto. She then invited Max Harris
to report on the proceedings of the conference for the Trinidad Carnival.
- Margaret Grasso and Kimberly Janczuk were warmly applauded for their effort in producing the Newsletter.
- York Cycle in Toronto. The PLS announced that in the Summer of 1998, they will be organizing a performance of the York Cycle in Toronto. They invite participants from other institutions to participate by bringing a play to Toronto. (see page 18.)
Jesse D. Hurlbut
May 22, 1996
Calls for Papers and Conferences
16TH WATERLOO INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ELIZABETHAN THEATRE
University of Waterloo, July 21-25, 1997
Topic: "Theatre and Nation"
Short papers with a clearly articulated connection to the topic are solicited to supplement a programme of invited addresses. Please be aware that the spaces reserved for short papers are limited. Submissions, not exceeding 10 pages, should be sent by February 1, 1997 to:
Lynne Magnusson or Ted McGee
Department of English
University of Waterloo
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1
Phone: (519) 885-1211, ext. 2759 or (519) 884-8110, ext. 280
FAX: (519) 746-5788
TEXTUAL PRACTICE AND THEATRICAL LABOR: SHAKESPEARE AND HIS CONTEMPORARIES
1997 Ohio Shakespeare Conference
Department of English
Ohio State University
May 16-18, 1997
Stephen Orgel (Stanford University)
Leah Marcus (University of Texas, Austin)
Jeff Masten (Harvard University)
Douglas Bruster (University of Texas, San Antonio)
The 1997 Ohio Shakespeare Conference invites paper and session proposals on any aspect of the business of the theater in Shakespeare's lifetime, from reexaminations of textual and editing problems, to the material and economic conditions within which dramatic scripts, texts and performances were produced and consumed in the many transactions that occurred among the interested parties: consumer, player, patron, printing
The conference seeks new research on, and new conceptualizations of, some of the oldest critical and historical questions concerning early modern theater: What economic, ideological, and phenomenological structures shaped and were shaped by the performance of dramatic and theatrical work? How do such structures affect textual and theatrical production and reproduction? What bearing do such concerns have on questions of topicality, influence, didacticism, patronage, or the evolution of dramatic tastes and genres?
While Shakespeare will undoubtedly figure prominently, the conference aims at somewhat broader coverage. Work on Shakespeare's contemporaries in the theater, therefore, as well as on Shakespeare's collaborative work, is encourages. Suitable panel and paper topics include, but are not limited to:
acting as labor * "playhouse interpolations" and the production of meaning * textual variants and the economics of revision * sites and scenes of dramatic composition * collaborative authorship * acting as action * text v. work * work v. labor * work and play * script as work product * the cultural work of the theater * performance as artifact * employment contracts * entrepreneurship * contractual and theatrical performances * promises * wagers * joint stock companies and corporate personality * professional competence and incompetence * expertise and training * divisions of labor in theatrical practice, and in dramatic representation * material phenomenologies of the theater * represented time and the time it takes to represent it * acting, identity and alienation * consumption (e.g., playgoing) as work * dramatic representations of economic relationships * pirates and "dramatic piracy" * acting and ownership * censorship and economics * economics and/or influence
For more information, or to submit abstracts for 20-minute presentation, or proposals for sessions (deadline: December 20, 1996), contact:
IN SHAKESPEARE'S SHADOW: "MINOR" DRAMA, 1590-1610
A conference to be held at
The University of Hertfordshire
March 22, 1997
"In Shakespeare's Shadow" will bring together research on the drama of 1590-1610 that is currently under-represented in literary study. The aim of the conference is to re-evaluate the drama of this period in its own right, and to question the canonical authority that Shakespeare commands to the detriment of all but a handful of his peers.
Proposal for papers (20 minutes in length) are invited on a range of topics, including individual authors, canonical politics, intertextuality and the production of meaning, authorial authority, drama as cultural commodity, spectatorship and class, historicism vs. formalism, the use-value of drama, theatre as national genre, drama as social labour, difference dramatized, alternative heroes, disregarding/discarding Shakespeare.
Theoretical and interdisciplinary work is especially welcome.
Proposals of no more than 300 words in length (deadline January 31, 1997) and/or requests for further information should be sent to us at the following address:
Andy Spong and Andrew Stott
Centre for Renaissance Studies
University of Hertfordshire
Herts. WD2 8AT
or email: A.D.Sponc@Herts.ac.uk.
ACMRS (the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies) at Arizona State University invites papers for its third interdisciplinary conference on February 13-15, 1997. The conference is both an open forum for the exploration of any topic relating to the study and teaching of the Middle Ages and Renaissance and an opportunity to examine in more depth a single, focused theme. This year's theme is Crossing Boundaries: Issues of Cultural and Individual Identity in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and keynote speaker will be Annabel Patterson, Karl Young Professor of English, Yale University.
Selected papers related to the conference theme are automatically considered for publication in the third volume of the new "Arizona Studies in the Middle Ages and Renaissance" series, published by Brepols Publishers of Belgium. Papers dealing with any facet of the Mediterranean region will automatically be considered for publication in the journal Mediterranean Studies, sponsored by the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, the Medieval and Renaissance Collegium (MARC) at the University of Michigan, and ACMRS at Arizona State University.
The setting of the conference is the Tempe Mission Palms Hotel, a five-star luxury resort featuring swimming pool, tennis courts, sauna, and proximity to numerous attractions in the Phoenix-Scottsdale-Tempe area. The hotel is just two blocks from the ASU campus and 15 minutes from the Phoenix airport. The high temperature in the "Valley of the Sun" during February averages 70 degrees. The conference registration fee is just $45 and includes welcoming reception, two days of concurrent sessions, concert, and keynote address.
The conference will also host The Medieval Book: A Workshop in Codicological Practice. This pre-conference half-day workshop led by Richard Clement, University of Kansas, will focus on the making of the medieval codex. Participants will discuss the production of parchment, paper, pens, and ink, and then make several quires in preparation for writing. NOTE: This workshop does not cover scripts and is not calligraphic.
A limited number of travel awards and stipends, based on demonstrated need, are available for scholars from abroad. Contact ACMRS for more information.
The deadline for sending two copies of session proposals, one-page abstracts, or complete papers, along with two copies of your current c.v. was November 1, 1996. For more information, contact Robert E. Bjork, Director, ACMRS, Arizona State University, Box 872301, Tempe, AZ 85287-2301. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: (602) 965-5900. Fax: (602) 965-1681.
with a concentration on recent developments in the study of the relationships between literature and history.
Since the beginning of the 1980s we have been witnessing the steady rise of a number of new methods of historico-contextualist criticism. One of these is the new historicism, which originated in the work of a number of Anglo-American Renaissance-scholars and which since has found its way into the fields of Medieval Literature, Romanticism, Victorian studies and the study of 20th-century literature.
In the wake of post-structuralist theories of representation, new historicists have found it difficult to hold on to traditional conceptions of the relationship between literature and history and have stressed the need to find new theoretical models that would highlight the dynamic, mutual dependency of text and context. One of these models is to be found in the work of the leading new historicist Stephen Greenblatt. In his work on Shakespeare he suggested that we understand the historical embeddedness of texts in terms of what he called "the circulation of social energy." This enables us to conceive of literary texts as both determined by and constitutive of historical reality.
It is the purpose of this conference to introduce the work of such renowned critics as Stephen Greenblatt (University of Berkeley/California, USA) and Catherine Belsey (University of Cardiff, Wales)--both keynote speakers at our meeting--in the Belgian and Dutch academies. Also, the conference aims at confronting in a critical manner the new reading-method which these critics proposed with a number of urgent questions. Some of these will no doubt concern what our third keynote speaker, Frank Ankersmit (University of Groningen, the Netherlands), has termed "the chiastic relationship of literature and history." Other speakers include cultural and literary theorists, philosophers, Shakespeareans and historians, who will address equally important questions: what, if any, are the advantages of "facing history" for the literary critic?; how should history be faced?; what, exactly, does it mean to do so?
For further information, please contact:
Literatuur en Algemene Literatuurwetenschap
Blandijnberg 2, B-9000 Gent.
phone (h): Int/9/221.46.80. (w): Int/9/264.40.97
The Seminar for Medieval and Renaissance Studies
University of Western Ontario
invites abstracts for a conference
THE LAWS AND THE PROPHETS IN THE MIDDLE AGES AND THE RENAISSANCE
April 12-15, 1997
University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada
Invited guest speakers include: S. Foot, D.M. Ganz, S. Justice, K. Kerby-Fulton, N. Smith, and E.G. Stanley.
Topics might include:
* historiography of laws, of prophetic works
* influence of the Bible attitudes to the Bible, approaches to the Old Testament and New Testament
* the manuscript contexts of biblical, legal and prophetic works
* influence of the biblical laws & prophets on the development of legal framewords, or on notions of prayer and devotion (both public and private)
* prophetic figures in literature and history
Send abstracts or queries to:
Department of English
University of Western Ontario
Canada N6A 3K7
Tel: (519) 679-2111 ext. 5776
CALL FOR PAPERS
The Shakespearean Guild is seeking submissions for "The Elventham Journal" published in April. The theme for this year will be "Shakespeare: Politics of Sex and Gender." Please send a 200-word abstract of thesis to:
The Shakespearean Guild
The Elventham Journal
6366 Commerce Boulevard
Rohnert, CA 94928
Abstracts must be received by January 31, 1997 for consideration. For more information, send email to: email@example.com. Please note that though the acceptance of the abstract does not guarantee publication in the journal, TSGuild reserves the right to consider them for future issues of TSGuild Quarterly newsletter.
Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
The University of Texas at Austin
1997-1998 Research Fellowships
Each year, the Ransom Center offers fellowships to scholars who wish to engage in post-doctoral or equivalent research requiring substantial on-site use of the Center's collections. During 1997-1998, approximately twenty-five research fellowships will be available for research performed during the period June 1, 1997-August 31, 1998. United States citizens and foreign nationals are eligible to apply.
To heighten awareness of particular collections and their scholarly uses, each year a small number of fellowships related to a particular research area are awarded. For 1997-1998, the Awards Committee will designate some fellowships for researchers whose work focuses on literary biography.
The following fellowships are offered for one-month research proposals:
- The American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies jointly sponsors with the Ransom Center two fellowships for literary, cultural, or historical study in this period; each fellowship carries a stipend of $1500. Applicants must be members of ASECS at the time of application.
- The British Studies Fellowship supports research in British literary, cultural, and historical subjects; stipend is $1500.
- The Cline Fellowships support research on 19th- or early 20th-century British topics; stipend is $1500.
- Two Fleur Cowles Fellowships support research on topics related to 20th-century art, journalism, women's studies, and general literature and culture; stipend is $1500 for each fellowship.
- The Alfred A. and Blanch W. Knopf Fellowship supports research in the areas of publishing and general literary studies, with special emphasis given to research concerning Knopf authors; stipend is $1500.
- The Limited Editions Club supports research in the Center's rare book collections, with emphasis given to work with illustrated books; stipend is $1500.
- The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation sponsors a number of fellowships in general literary and cultural studies, each carrying a stipend of $2000.
- Two Pforzheimer Fellowships in Renaissance Studies support research in the Pforzheimer collection as well as in general Renaissance Studies; stipend is $1500 each.
- The C.P. Snow Fellowship supports research in general literary and cultural studies, with a special emphasis on the relationship of literature and science; stipend is $1500.
- The Ransom Center/South Central Modern Language Association Fellowship is a jointly-sponsored award offered to members of SCMLA for general literary and cultural studies; stipend is $1500. Applicants must be members of SCMLA at the time of application.
Two- to Four-Month Fellowships
A limited number of Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowships may be awarded for periods of residency of two, three, or four months to scholars whose projects require extended use of the Ransom Center's collections. Stipend is $2000 per month.
Beginning in 1997-98, travel stipends of $500-$750 may be awarded to scholars with research projects that do not require 30-day residency at the Ransom Center.
The application deadline for 1997-98 Research Fellowships is February 1, 1997. Awards will be announced by letter on or before April 1, 1997.
A complete application for a Ransom Center Research Fellowship consists of a three-page proposal submitted by the scholar plus two confidential letters of recommendation, submitted independently to the Center by referees.
The proposal portion of the application may be no longer than three pages. Please follow the instructions below.
Part One: Applicant Information
In the first section of the application, list your name, preferred mailing address, telephone and FAX numbers, e-mail address, your institutional affiliation (or indication of independent scholar status), length of residency requested (one, two, three, or four months, or travel stipend only), brief project title, and one of the following codes that best describes your research project:
|BR||British, 20th century|
|* Special topic for 1997-1998|
Indicate if you are currently a member of the American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies (ASECS) or the South Central Modern Language Association (SCMLA).
Part Two: Project Information
The second section of the application consists of a Project Summary and a Description of Anticipated Use of Ransom Center Collections. These portions will be of approximately equal length. Applicants should bear in mind that they are writing for a multi-disciplinary faculty committee, so research topics and their significance should be thoroughly explained.
Note that application for all fellowships is the same and is accomplished by a single proposal. The Ransom Center will match scholars with appropriate fellowships.
Part Three: Summary Vita
The final portion of the application is an abbreviated one-page curriculum vitae stressing the applicant's publications. No other items should be appended to the proposal.
LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION
In addition to the three-page proposal, the Ransom Center requires two confidential letters of recommendation from scholars who are qualified to judge the applicant's proposal. Referees' letters should clearly indicate the applicant's name and the title of the proposed project.
SUBMITTING A PROPOSAL
The three-page research proposal and two letters of recommendation must be received no later than February 1, 1997, in order for the application to be eligible for the competition. The Ransom Center will acknowledge the receipt of complete applications if a self-addressed, stamped postcard is sent along with the proposal. We will return the card to you after we have received your proposal AND the two letters of recommendation. Unfortunately, queries about applications in progress cannot be acknowledged.
The project proposal and letters of recommendation should be sent to: Research Fellowships; Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center; The University of Texas at Austin; P.O. Box 7219; Austin, TX 78713-7219. Applications transmitted by FAX or e-mail will not be accepted.
Fellowships do not support work on the dissertation and the terminal degree must be in hand at the time of application. Individuals who have received a Ransom Center Research Fellowship are eligible to reapply after one year has passed.
Applicants for the Ransom Center/American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies Fellowship or the Ransom Center/South Central Modern Language Association Fellowship must be members of ASECS or SCMLA, respectively, upon application.
Proof of Residency
Residencies must be taken up during the fifteen-month period from June 1, 1997 through August 31, 1998. Recipients of one-month fellowships are expected to be in continuous residence for the duration of their award. Recipients with longer-term awards may split the residency at the Center with a minimum stay at any one time of four weeks.
All fellows are invited to participate in the intellectual life at The University of Texas at Austin, including writing a brief research report on their work at the Ransom Center to be submitted after the residency has been completed.
CALL FOR APPLICATIONS
NEH Summer Seminar for College Teachers
The English Reformation: Literature, History, and Art
Professor John N. King
The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
June 9 - August 1, 1997
This interdisciplinary program will consider different phases in the English Reformation, a major watershed in the development of English culture and national identity. It contributed to the transformation of the literary and artistic production of early modern England between the time of Tyndale's Bible translations and publication of Milton's biblical epics. The seminar will bring together literary, historical, and artistic concerns that conventional disciplinary boundaries still tend to separate. In particular, it responds to the transformation in literary studies during the last fifteen years, which has brought to the fore concerns about the historical nature of literary texts. Texts under consideration will include selections from Foxe's Book of Martyrs, Spenser's The Faerie Queene, and Milton's Paradise Lost.
The Department of English at Ohio State University is eager to welcome members of the seminar, whose privileges as visiting faculty will include full access to facilities. The university research collections are among the largest in this country. Our main library houses very rich holdings in primary and secondary texts related to the literature and culture of the English Reformation. Comfortable lodgings are available for the participants.
Applications are welcome from college teachers and independent scholars who specialize in the literature and cultural history of the English Renaissance and Reformation, and to historians of religion, politics, art, and music. Participants must have received the Ph.D. degree, but they may not teach in programs that grant the Ph.D. Sufficient time will be reserved for individual research, work-in-progress designed for publication, or other projects related to the seminar's common concerns. Participants are expected to remain in residence for full duration of the program, and they will receive stipends of $4,000. The deadline for application is March 1, 1997.
For further information, direct inquiries to:
Professor John N. King
NEH Summer Seminar
Department of English
The Ohio State University
164 West 17th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210-1370
Office phone: (614) 292-6065 (attn Kevin Lindberg)
Home phone: (614) 875-1761 (attn Kevin Lindberg)
ROMEO AND JULIET
November 7-9, 1996
Directed by Joseph M. Ricke
"Set in post-Civil War America, in Verona, a city in northern Virginia, the production attempts to connect the beauty, violence, sentimentality, and devastation of Shakespeare's play with both the postwar period and the present day. Despite the recontextualization, I believe the production is guided by Shakespearean performance values. Musical elements of the play will all be taken from Stephen Foster."
Joseph M. Ricke
Huntington, IN 46750
As part of its fall concert, the Christopher Newport University Collegium Museum ("Musica ante sesquimillenium") led by Clyde Brockett plans to present the Sponsus from the Bibliothèque Nationale latin 1139 (St. Martial) the evening of November 25 in Ferguson Hall on campus. The music drama, to be sung in original languages, will be preceded by the Advent antiphon O sapientia with the Magnificat and followed by the hymn Veni, veni, Emmanuel with the audience joining in the refrain.
OLYMPIA DUKAKIS PREMIERS IN
"THE MYSTERY OF THINGS . . . A WOMAN'S EXPLORATION OF LEAR"
On October 5, 1996, Olympia Dukakis performed the world premier of her one-woman production, "The Mystery of Things . . . A Woman's Exploration of Lear" at Dallas' historic Majestic Theatre. Conceived by Ms. Dukakis and Dennis Krausnick, "The Mystery of Things . . . A Woman's Exploration of Lear" is a dramatic soliloquy using the text of William Shakespeare's King Lear.
Relations, which are probably one of the greatest mysteries for mankind to understand, are the focus of Ms. Dukakis' exploration. Ms. Dukakis performs excerpts from King Lear, playing the characters of King Lear and his daughters Goneril, Regan and Cordelia. The passages highlight a woman's relationship to the uses and abuses of power, true authority and tyranny, the love and anger that bonds parent to child and the acceptance of aging.
Ms. Dukakis is a renowned actor of stage and screen. She defines herself as an actress, producer, teacher and activist. She has performed in over 100 productions on Broadway, Off-Broadway and regionally. She is also well-known for her many screen performances such as "Moonstruck" and "Steel Magnolias" and has received a multitude of awards including an Academy Award and two Golden Globe awards.
This critically acclaimed actor continues to actively create and develop theatre projects. Her passion for the works of William Shakespeare and her regard for Dallas' Shakespeare Festival of Dallas have led her to choose Dallas as the location for the premier of her latest work.
In the past 25 years, the Shakespeare Festival of Dallas has attracted audiences totalling almost one million people. Award-winning actors from around the country have participated in the summer performances of Shakespeare, which are offered free of charge to the greater Dallas community. "The Mystery of Things . . . A Woman's Exploration of Lear" is part of the Shakespeare Festival of Dallas' newest concept, the Spotlight Series, which brings highly acclaimed actors to Dallas to perform their unique interpretations of Shakespeare's greatest works.
"To have such a talented actor support the Shakespeare Festival of Dallas is truly a great compliment," says Cliff Redd, the Executive Producer of the Festival. "This premier performance is something so special for the Dallas community."
ACTER Spring Tour 1997
ACTER's Spring 1997 Tour of Actors from the London Stage will perform Romeo and Juliet (completely different production from the Fall 95 version) at the following campuses:
February 3-9: Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, IL
February 10-16: Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL
February 17-23: Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI
February 24-March 2: Allegheny College, Meadville, PA and Slippery Rock University, Slippery Rock, PA
March 3-9: Santa Monica College, Santa Monica, CA
March 10-16: Berea College, Berea, KY
March 17-23: University of the Ozarks, Clarksville, AR
March 24-30: New Mexico University, Las Cruces, NM
March 31-April 6: LaSalle University, Philadelphia, PA
The 1997-98 season of Measure for Measure and Midsummer Night's Dream is almost booked.
To see schedule or for more information on ACTER, visit our website at http://www.unc.edu/depts/acter/ or call Cynthia Dessen, Manager, (919) 967-4265.
The York Cycle!
Quite a few of you may remember the weekend of October 1-2, 1977, on which dates PLS organized the first North American production of the complete York Cycle. If you were there, you'll also remember that it was freezing cold and rained heavily much of the time--so much that many of the plays had to be moved indoors. It's been almost twenty years since York, and we've decided it's time to do it again. A great deal of research has been done on the plays, and we'd like the opportunity to take it into account. We'd also like the chance to do the cycle in better weather! The date we've selected is Midsummer's Day, Saturday, June 21, 1998, giving us a year and a half to prepare for this marathon.
The forty-seven plays of the Cycle will be performed outdoors on our pageant wagons at four or five sites around the campus of Victoria College at the University of Toronto.
As before, we are inviting theatre companies from all over the world to bring individual plays, with PLS acting as central producing body. Already we have plays booked from groups across the US and Canada, and some nibbles from groups in England. However, if you know of a school/church/community theatre group that might be interested in mounting a play--and many of the York plays are quite small--call us at 978-5096 and we'll send out an information package. York can also be contacted through the new Home Page (http://www.epas.utoronto.ca:8080/~medieval/pls/www).
Put June 21, 1998 down in your calendar now! It will be a day to remember.
PLS (Poculi Ludique Societas)
The Medieval and Renaissance Players of Toronto
Two Reviews of the New Globe Theater
Last night's opening performance at the New Globe was a crowd-pleaser. The groundlings were feeling happy when they came in the door, comparing notes about their interviews with the press in the queue. They milled around, greeted their friends, waved to acquaintances in the galleries. When two photographers climbed on the stage to take the audience's picture, there was good-natured booing and "get off, get off." When they did get off, they got a round of applause.
The theatre, though uncompleted, is atmospheric. The tiring-house is a temporary one, apparently made of painted flats. There is, however, a second level that was used during the show. Before the play began, we could see the orchestra's instruments: modern ones, including a drumkit and a bass.
The play, Two Gentlemen of Verona, turned out to be in modern dress. The more aristocratic characters wear Italian suits and sip espresso at cafe tables. The audience was at first subdued, but warmed to its role as commentator as the show progressed, encouraged by the actors. When Proteus (Mark Rylance) hesitates to kiss Julia on parting, a friendly voice urged him to "Go on, my son." When Speed (Ben Walden) says of Proteus, "My master is some kind of a knave," the audience evinced agreement.
The modern dress was disappointing to a Renaissance specialist like myself, but it may be that it aided the interaction between audience and actors that was the main charm of this production. The cast was multiracial, with two black actors, including Valentine, and one Indian. The effect was to import modern London into the theatre: an effect I rather liked. If the costumes had been Elizabethan, would the audience have held its breath and revered the Great Bard in silence? That would have been more disappointing.
Contributed by Matt DeCoursey
Catholic University of America
Thursday, August 22, 1996
With a friend I went along as a groundling to the second night of the "prologue" season at the Globe Theatre on the South Bank in London. We tried too late to book for the first night which was sold out. The official Opening Festival is scheduled for June of next year, labelled "A Fanfare of Firsts." During this August and September, in addition to a series of performances by the new company of The Two Gentlemen of Verona, a touring Midsummer Night's Dream by Northern Broadsides stops by for one night on September 3. Particularly interesting to students of the period should be the initial production of the "Rarely Played" series. As I understand, one-off productions are to be mounted at the Globe of plays rarely done, beginning with Damon and Pythias done by an all-female cast. That should be on September 10.
Last night brought an interested audience, some of them rather grander and older than might be expected. They seemed attentive and willing to laugh. The new production by Jack Shepherd ran nearly 3 hours. Costumes were modern with a few minimal cafe tables plus more substantial furniture for the duke brought out from the central opening which has a sliding door. Two side doors resemble the DeWitt drawing. The new stage is considered a temporary trial structure to precede a permanent stage. Certainly it is substantial, and the colourful painting of the columns (red) and the painting of the fons as a rusticated wall is not especially subtle. The second level of the back wall is a large open gallery with a clutch of musicians in the centre. (Why not keep the idea of a stage that could be redesigned experimentally since so little is known of the appearance of the original?) Groundlings stand on a sort of tarmac surface, perhaps slightly raked for drainage. Not too many were crowded in. To my thinking the space of the New Globe is agreeable, almost intimate, whereas the stage seems surprisingly large. The fixed lighting required for evening performances is bright. Strong speaking voices are a must for actors, particularly with late evening jets going overhead, and yes, when there is rain, the heads of those standing in the pit really do get wet, even those standing near the eaves.
Notable among the cast were Mark Rylance (artistic director of the New Globe) as Proteus, reminiscent of his Benedick a few years ago, the best I have seen, and Anastasia Hille as Sylvia. Lennie James made a strong Valentine.
I had heard that audience members in the "new" theatre would be encouraged to participate, though the only notable example I noticed was a woman who asked Launce, when he entered in a late scene without Crab, "Where's your dog?" He did not respond.
Contributed by Stephen Miller
August 23, 1996
William Hamlin, Idaho State University
"'Swolne with cunning of a selfe conceit': Marlowe's Faustus and Self-Conception," in English Language Notes, forthcoming December 1996 or March 1997.
"Skepticism and Solipsism in Doctor Faustus," in Research Opportunities in Renaissance Drama, forthcoming 1997.
Michael O'Connell, University of California at Santa Barbara
"The Theater of Suffering: Hans Memling's Passion and Late Medieval Drama," in European Iconography East and West, ed. György E. Szönyi (E.J. Brill: Leiden, 1996).
New Publication from W.W. Norton & Company & the Folger Shakespeare Library:
The Norton Facsimile
The First Folio of Shakespeare
Based on Folios in the Folger Shakespeare Library Collection, 2nd edition
Prepared by Charles Hinman, with a new introduction by Peter W.M. Blayney
Florenz in der Frührenaissance Justus Müller Hofstede (HG.)
Festschrift für Paul Oskar Kristeller zum 90. Geburstag
The Rhenish Friedrich Wilhelm University at Bonn organized a symposium in May 1990, on the occasion of the 85th birthday of Professor Paul Oskar Kristeller (New York, Columbia University), the prominent humanism scholar, philosopher, philologist, paleographer, and historian of early modern thought. The symposium included contributions from the disciplines of art history, Romance studies, medieval Latin philology and Classics. In light of the wide-reaching Italian support and friendship for the anniversary symposium, respected Italian scholars in the field of Humanism were invited to participate.
One of the main purposes of the conference was to elucidate the influence of the work of P.O. Kristeller on the larger realm of historical literature and art studies today. The Bonn Colloquium was opened with a paper by P.O. Kristeller, published in this collection, on the concepts of the viva activa and the vita contemplativa in the Renaissance. The succeeding conference presentations, after much preparation for the anniversary celebration itself, are now available in attractive book form, as Festschrift for Kristeller's 90th birthday.
Each essay is dedicated to the humanistically influenced arts and literary genres of the trecento and quattrocento in Florence. The volume includes studies on the self-representation of Masaccio, Fra Filippo Lippi and Botticelli; the sculpture of Donatello and the architecture of Brunelleschi; the representation of the city through the tre corone fiorentine; Boccaccio's victory over the Middle Ages through his decisive turning toward the modern worlk; new finds on the epistolarium of the learned Camaldolese General Ambrogio Traversari; Poggio Bracciolini's art of invective art; Lorenzo il Magnifico's relationship to the lyric poetry of Italy; and finally, the concept of the symposium of Giannozzo Manetti and Marsilio Ficino and an essay on the figure of Mercury in the neo-Latin poetry of Michele Marullo. Thus, these essays revolve around the area of research that P.O. Kristeller defined in such exemplary fashion, through his pioneering investigations into philosophy, intellectual history, and humanism in Florence in the early Renaissance. The authors greet the anniversary of his birthday with the motto: VIRTUTE DUCE--COMITE FORTUNA.
The Play of Wisdom
Its Texts and Contexts
Edited by Milla Riggio
LC 95-39740 CIP ISBN 0-404-61444-2
(AMS Studies in the Middle Ages, No. 14)
At a time when books are expensive to produce and difficult to keep in print, Milla Riggio has prepared a new kind of edition of a long-neglected medieval play. The Play of Wisdom is a scholarly, textual, acting edition of one of the three morality plays on which - apart from Everyman - we base our knowledge of early morality drama: useful in the classroom, full of crutches for the beginning student, sufficient for actors or directors who wish to produce Wisdom, and yet rigorous enough to satisfy early drama specialists. Though included in standard editions of The Macro Manuscript, Wisdom boasts only one "modern" edition of its own and that is a non-scholarly one now more than seventy years old and generally unavailable. David Bevington's standard Medieval Drama text omits the play altogether.
Professor Riggio's 1984 Trinity College production of Wisdom demonstrated that the play is an engaging festival, not a dull sermon. Now in this edition she has provided new information about the relationship between the early manuscripts of Wisdom which significantly alters previous assumptions. Riggio proves, for instance, that the Folger Macro Manuscript is a copy of the Bodleian Digby. Her introductions will not only affect the way we date this play but will change the ways in which we define the early tradition of moral drama. In addition, Riggio frames issues of female literacy and gender representation in the 15th century. Reflecting its ten years of research and preparation, this edition includes an updated version of the acting script alongside a painstakingly edited medieval text, with careful introductions and 150 pages of notes which redefine the genre of the play and set it in a variety of theatrical and historical contexts. The glossary presents a contextualized dictionary of meanings and etymologies that, together with the bibliography and scholarly apparatus of the play, are impressive enough to have won the "Approved Edition" emblem of the MLA's Committee on Scholarly Editions. The CSE Award states:
The Committee's emblem indicates that this volume is based on an examination of all available relevant textual sources, that it is edited according to principles articulated in the volume, that the source texts and the edited text's deviations from them are fully described, that the editorial principles and the text and the apparatus have undergone a peer review, that a rigorous schedule of verification and proofreading was followed to insure a high degree of accuracy in the presentation of the edition, and that the text is accompanied by appropriate textual and other historical contextual information.
David Bevington writes that "Milla Riggio's comprehensive and splendid edition of Wisdom . . . will be a real addition to scholarly resources for those of us who work in medieval drama. It is detailed, learned, user friendly, helpful in all the right ways." Theresa Coletti adds that "Riggio's edition is a wonderful book that offers many new dazzling insights into this much neglected fifteenth-century play." David A. Salomon concludes that "Wisdom has been neglected in study of the drama partially due to the difficulty of the text and partially due to the lack of a good scholarly edition - both of these problems will be remedied when Professor Riggio's work is finally published."
Of related interest:
The Wisdom Symposium
Papers from the Trinity College Medieval Festival
Edited by Milla Cozart Riggio
LC 85-48070 CIP ISBN 0-404-51441-8 Cloth $32.50
(AMS Studies in the Middle Ages, No. 11)
Please address all orders or inquiries directly to
AMS PRESS, INC.
56 East 13th Street
New York, NY 10003-4686
Fax: (212) 995-5413
TEN YEARS IN THE MAKING!
PLEASE ENCOURAGE YOUR LIBRARY TO ORDER!
Medieval and Early Renaissance Theatre and Drama
Edited by Alexandra F. Johnston and Wim Hüsken
Ludus: A Series in Medieval Theatre and Drama, 1.
Amsterdam/Atlanta, GA 1996. 157 pp. ISBN #: 90-420-0060-0 Hfl. 50/US $31
This collection of essays presents the multiplicity of dramatic and para-dramatic activity that flourished in medieval and early modern England at the parish level. The evidence here adduced is largely from churchwardens' accounts and from the records of the ecclesiastical courts. The book contains ten articles that consider the various money-making ventures undertaken by English parishes for the support of the church. The authors study subjects ranging from paradramatic activities such as rushbearing, dancing and buol and bear baiting through more hybrid and problematical events such as a the king games and Robin Hood gatherings and plays, to what can be considered "true" drama with sets, props, texts and actors. All the contributors are editors in the Records of Early English Drama project and bring to their material the insights of scholars working with original material in what are still only partially charted waters. "Ludus" intends to introduce those interested in literature, in the performing arts, or in history to the various aspects of theatre and drama form the Middle Ages and the Early Renaissance. It publishes books on closely defined topics, mostly seen from a comparative point of view.
This book can be ordered through your bookshop or directly from the publishers:
Editions Rodopi B.V., 2015 South Park Place, Atlanta, GA 30339
All other countries:
Editions Rodopi B.V., Keizersgracht 302-304, 1016 EX
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
The Heaven Singing: Music in Early English Religious Drama, Vol. 1
By Richard Rastall
Boyd & Brewer, Ltd. 1996 457 pp.
Where should there be music in an anonymous English religious play of the fifteenth or sixteenth century? What sort of music should it be, and by what forces should it be performed? This volume shows how music was used at the time of the plays' production, both through a close examination of individual texts, and of teh place of music in the intellectual and artistic life of the middle ages.
Dr. Rastall begins by discussing the internal literary evidence of the play texts, the surviving notated music in the plays, and the documentary evidence of the productions before turning to the wider cultural contexts in which the plays were composed and performed. He considers the representational and dynamic functions of music in the plays, the relationship between music, drama and liturgy, and the performers themselves--who they were, and what they might be expected to do. Related factors necessary to the discovery of how music was used in late medieval drama are also considered, from medieval cosmology and the numerical construction of plays to the age and size of boy actors.
Volume 2 is a play-by-play discussion of the evidence and is tentatively scheduled for publication in a year's time.
Margaret J. Arnold
Department of English
University of Kansas
Lawrence, KS 66046
Medieval and Shakespearean "Visions" in the Southwark Globe:
Some Observations and Opportunities
"The Mysteries and Shakespeare," one of the first 1995 summer workshops testing different scripts and styles of performance in the Bankside Globe, merits careful attention as long as plans for using this long-awaited theatre are still evolving. Bill Bryden and William Dudley, the collaborators behind the acclaimed BBC The Mysteries, presented a miraculous incident from a mystery play, the healing of the blind man from the York cycle. They followed it with two selections emphasizing vision from Shakespeare's canon, the mechanicals' play in A Midsummer Night's Dream and the coronation procession of Prince Hal before and after his accession as Henry V. Medieval and Shakespearean visions unified the afternoon. Any member of the audience could appreciate the spectacle and take part in the street scenes. Beyond this, spectators familiar with the plays had the opportunity to see the kind of performances in a medieval mode that Shakespeare might have attended in his youth. They could, among other things, reflect on the kinds and angles of vision represented and have the advantage of seeing the architecture of the new Globe in relation to an actual performance in its physical space. Most of all, they could appreciate the links in theme and in emblematic staging Shakespeare and his contemporaries drew from their own dramatic history.
Bryden led his audience from the contemporary Bankside into the pas, transforming a willing group of spectators into participants awaiting the arrival of the players. The subject, the healing of a blind man from the York cycle, in itself a miracle, led observers familiar with the York plays to join the celebration of Christ's entry into Jerusalem. Playing trumpets and wearing simple garments, the performers parted the crowd, pausing to help a silent, withdrawn Jesus rest on a sawhorse. A pompous burgher in the arena and an importunate blind man crying from the upper seats and gradually descending, created the only sounds in contrast to Christ, who appeared almost supernaturally quiet until he responded to Peter's plea for extending mercy. The blind man ran and leaped with joy: "I was as blynde as any stone;/I see!" The audience was able to share the wonder of a Biblical drama before the players dispersed, the prop disappeared, and Jesus removed a simple cloth from his head.
The second scene evoked the literal-minded workmen of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Bryden characterized the mechanicals as the kind of actors involved in medieval dramatic production. Although no thematic link kept vision in the audience's mind, a play so full of language about literal and symbolic mutations of sight and even renewals of insight followed naturally from the York selection. Within Shakespeare's text the mechanicals do "see," however, convincing spectators that Moon and Wall address them. Theseus also provides directions for an audience to use its vision, no matter how weak the production. The Bankside enactment included summoning the men on the ground level and creating an imaginary space for a tiring house to prepare for the "Pyramus and Thisbe" rehearsal. Only the actual performance before the newly married couples took place on the stage itself.
The final presentation invited the workshop audience to participate in a coronation. The same people involved in welcoming Jesus to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday became spectators for the procession welcoming Prince Hal on his way to receive the crown as Henry V. The royal procession entered the arena in the same general area from which the blind man had appeared. We were directed to cry "All, hail!", many shouting the salute before the ruler's identity was cleare. Meanwhile, in the dramatic space formerly filled by the noisy burgher and the importunate blind man after his descent, Falstaff, Pistol, and Shallow awaited Hal's appearance and their reward. While the royal party mounted the stage, keeping their backs to the crowd, Falstaff exuberantly predicted his future prominence. When the newly crowned Hal descended among the citizens, he faced and spoke to the Lord Chief Justice, positioned at his right hand. After a moment of royal silence, Falstaff, the hopeful suitor on the left, heard "I know thee not, old man," and was banished forever.
Concluding with this secular pageant after beginning with a sacred one shows wise selection and design on Bryden and Dudley's part. For spectators less familiar with Shakespeare, the opportunity to participate in and to appreciate the symmetry of the scenes drew the audience, the performers, and the dramatic texts into an integrated whole. The design of the coronation scene underscored the York miracle's restoration of vision. In fact, the retracing of the blind man's path across the arena was quite appropriate. Hal confirms his view of Falstaff as a figure unfit for serious government. Falstaff sees his hope of meaningful power dissolve. Most of all, the Lord Chief justice regains hope for the nation, seeing in the newly-crowned Henry V the seriousness and dedication he has hoped the new king will possess.
Reflecting on the scenic design draws attention to two medieval dramatic patterns: the Passion and Doomsday. Holinshed places Hal's coronation on Passion Sunday, a final Lenten week when the Palm Sunday liturgy was read. A reference in the Folio to three grooms strewing rushes suggests that Shakespeare may well have kept the parallel in mind; most certainly, he was aware of parallels between the king and the King of Kings. The Doomsday pattern is also visible because the repudiation of Falstaff is a judgment scene, separating sinners, especially "that old vice Iniquity," from the upright, embodied in the Lord Chief Justice. Another procession featuring Hal's re-entry into London after the victory in France might well have been staged, to round off the afternoon and to tie medieval religious concepts even more tightly to Shakespeare's secular analogues. He speaks as a secular ruler, yet he shadows the spiritual leader he worships when he gives credit for the victory to God, planning honor to the living and the dead:
Let there be sung Non nobis and Te Deum
The dead with charity enclosed in clay. (4.8.123)
The words of the liturgy thus join the moment of one earthly victory, aligning it with God's universal victory in history.
The workshop on "The Mysteries and Shakespeare" clearly engaged a varied audience and left spectators pondering the implications of the performances. Those who knew both medieval and Shakespearean drama had the opportunity to visualize juxtaposed miracle scenes and Shakespearean ones. Finally, both the performers and the audience had the opportunity afterwards to discuss their ease of seeing and hearing, each group commenting both on the temporary stage and on the arena itself. Dissatisfaction with the onstage scenes resulted from sight line and hearing problems created by the stage design. Partly because the 1995 stage was temporary, it had acoustical problems that the permanent stage may correct. Large, hollow plywood pillars and a flat roof absorbed actors' voices at the same time that they obscured visibility for spectators at each side. Even on the temporary stage, however, the sound from the area in front of the pillars spread clearly throughout the arena. The resonance from the ground itself and from the upper seating ranges was impressive. Even in the present arena space, a director of medieval scenes could still take advantage of many aisles and spaces for journeys across the plateau: selections from Shakespeare's plays mounted in the present Globe space had best be processions, public assemblies, and public speeches.
However, tensions among performers, spectators, and scholars of theatrical architecture need to be addressed if the Bankside theatres, the Globe and later the Inigo Jones, are to offer living, challenging alternatives to those London already presents. The current schedule of performances and workshops does not include experiments like "Shakespeare and the Mysteries." Before the present season, the Bankside actors have participated in a number of workshops for students of Shakespeare's plays. Recently lectures by Mark Rylance and Andrew Gurr, along with staged readings of such plays as Jonson's Bartholomew Faire have taken place on the small stage of the Globe Education Centre. The producers also plan performances of original scripts. At the present time, however, materials for the Bankside Globe begin and end with Shakespeare and his contemporaries, and the producers look forward from Shakespeare and not backward from him. The impressive "Shakespeare and the Mysteries" workshop stands as a reminder to look backward to see the patterns from which the Elizabethan and Jacobean playwrights drew some of their aesthetic power.
Movie History Emerges from a Basement
by Bernard Weinraub
(printed in The New York Times, September 17, 1996)
HOLLYWOOD--A film that archivists believe to be the oldest complete American feature, a 1912 version of Shakespeare's Richard III, has been turned over to the American Film Institute in near-perfect condition. The print had been stored for more than 30 years in the basement of a onetime theater projectionist in Portland, Ore.
Produced three years before D.W. Griffith's Civil War epic, The Birth of a Nation, Richard III was long thought by film historians to be lost. The film, starring Frederick Warde, a popular Shakespearean actor of the day, was the second feature produced in the United States. (The first, a version of Oliver Twist, released in May 1912, five months before Richard III, survives in incomplete form, with one reel missing.) The director of Richard III, James Keane, rose to prominence in 1914 with the release of a social drama called Money, which included a scene of starving workers storming a banquet.
The discovery of Richard III is "like finding a Rembrandt you didn't know existed, in somebody's closet," said Jean Picker Firstenberg, director of the American Film Institute. She said the institute planned to show the 55-minute movie on October 29 in Los Angeles as part of its annual film festival, with further screenings in New York and other cities in the United States and abroad. The film's survival "complete in its original print is really astounding," said the silent-film historian Kevin Brownlow. The movie was long considered lost and "expunged from the memory," said Brownlow, the author of The Parade's Gone By, a history of silent films.
Richard III was one of eight American dramatic and documentary feature films released in 1912, the first year that features were made in the United States. Only five survive in any form, and of those, only Richard III and two others released later in the year survive in their entirety. (Film archivists define a feature film as a work of at least 40 minutes, or four reels of 35-millimeter film.) From 1895 to 1912, American companies released single-reel films, lasting 10 to 15 minutes. By all accounts, Richard III, made by the M.B. Dudley Amusement Company, of New York City, created a splash when it was first released. Filmed in Westchester County and at City Island in the Bronx at a cost of $30,000, the film includes lavish battle scenes with a cast of hundreds, large for the day.
In an interview in The Brooklyn Eagle in November 1912, Warde, the film's star, who for years had his own stage company, described his first film experience. "The staging and methods of the movingpicture people were revelations to me," he said. "I thought I knew all the tricks of acting, but their work was simply amazing to me. The director of the company simply told the other actors what to do, telling them to look glad or sorry, when to shout and when to fight, without telling them why they did any of these things." Warde said he "had to suppress all sense of the ridiculous to go through with the thing in such surroundings."
Richard III was given to the Film Institute by William Buffum, a retired flour mill manager in Portland. Buffum, 77, also was a part time movie projectionist who had meticulously cared for the film for more than 35 years without realizing its significance. In a telephone interview, Buffum said he acquired the film around 1960 from a friend, Clifford Beckwith, in exchange for several other silent movies. Buffum said he believed that Beckwith was dead.
Describing himself as a film fan since he was a teenager, Buffum said he began working as a projectionist in 1938, partly to earn extra money and partly because of his hobby since childhood of collecting and repairing movie projectors. At the time, he said he and some friends began collecting feature films. "I bought a few features through ads in Popular Mechanics," he recalled. "I bought Bpictures, Tom Mix, one of them with Hedda Hopper. My friends did the same things, and we began trading them back and forth." During World War II, Buffum was deployed as a film projectionist on Army transport ships going to Guam, the Philippines and Australia. After the war, he returned to Portland and resumed his part-time work in movie theaters. Even as he collected old films through the 1950s, Buffum said, his wife, Margaret, was "scared to death we'd have a fire," because of the highly-flammable nitrate content of the movie stock. Before 1951, 35-millimeter films for theatrical release were made of nitrocellulose, or nitrate, a chemical relative of guncotton, which is used in explosives.
Around 1960, Buffum said, he gave up his remaining collection of 10 to 20 silent films in exchange for two movies from Beckwith, a rare Lon Chaney rural drama from 1919 called When Bearcat Went Dry, and Richard III.
Last February, the Buffums decided to sell their home and donate the films to the American Film Institute. Buffum said he had read of preservation efforts of the institute, which was founded in 1967 and is supported by federal and private funds. "We had seen the films so many times that my wife liked going backward rather than forward," he said. "I had no idea that this was any different than any other old film." Buffum called the Institute's office in Los Angeles, which contacted the preservation staff in Washington. Over the phone, preservationists told Buffum how to package and mail the fragile films to the institute's vaults in Suitland, MD, outside Washington. Buffum was sent about $70 to cover the costs of mailing the films.
What surprised archivists the most was the almost perfect condition of Richard III. More than 70 percent of all feature films produced before the 1920s do not exist at all, Institute officials said. "We kept the films very carefully," Buffum explained. "We would take them out and rewind them once a year to make sure they weren't disintegrating." During summers, the Buffums kept the films in a cement enclosure under their porch. "We were cautious," he said. "We didn't want to start a fire. We wanted to keep them in a cool place."
The Lon Chaney film, though made after Richard III, was in far worse shape. The Chaney movie has become part of the Film Institute's collection of the actor's films at the George Eastman House in Rochester.
The original nitrate print of Richard III will become a part of the American Film Institute's collection at the Library of Congress. The collection contains nearly 30,000 films and television shows. The preservation of film is being financially supported by the Joseph H. Kanter Foundation, which is also paying for the composition of a musical score to accompany the film.
--Submitted by Michael R. Moore, University of Arizona
President: Lawrence M. Clopper, Indiana Univ. (Bloomington, IN)
Vice President: Milla C. Riggio, Trinity College (Hartford, CT)
Secretary: Jesse D. Hurlbut, Brigham Young Univ. (Provo, UT)
Sarah E. MacLean (REED)
Eckehard Simon (Harvard Univ.)
Jody Enders (Univ. of California, Santa Barbara)
Naomi C. Liebler (Montclair State College)
Lois Potter (University of Delaware)
Victor I. Scherb (Univ. of Texas at Tyler)
Mimi Still Dixon (Wittenberg Univ.)
Martin W. Walsh (Univ. of Michigan)