Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

3

The objects of the Dramatic Reader are three-fold: 1. To be heard : 2. To be understood: 3. To be felt. To assist in the attainment of these objects, the following Table is presented :

RHETORICAL PUNCTUATION.-Pauses may be marked by the ordinary musical rests, quaver, 4, (shortest); crotchet, P, (middle); minim, , (long), and semi-breve, I, (longest).

In addition to the ordinary marks of Punctuation, a mark for Expressive or Emotional pause ( ... )is frequently introduced.

Rising Clauses or sentences that are incomplete, progressive or appealing, require rising tones. Clauses or sentences that are complete, definite, or assertive, require falling tones. Contrasted meanings are best expressed by circumflexed tones. Subdued inflexions, (Monotones,) may be noted by horizontal lines placed above the words. Rising tones look forward, falling tones look backward ; monotones are reflective. Every sentence, whatever its rhetorical or grammatical form, is either Appellative, Assertive, or Imperative.

highest tone, passionate. 4

higher, important, declamatory. MODULATION.

middle or conversational. 2

- slightly lower: subordinate.

lowest tone: solemn, (monotone.) Slight modulative changes : to higher, 1;-to lower, L.

FORCE (5 degrees). V-vehement; e-energetic; t-temperate ; f-feeble; p-piano.

TIME (5 degrees). R-rapid ; q-quick; m-moderate ; s--slow; a (adagio)-very slow.

STACCATO, the diacritic mark repeated 11,-DIMINUENDO (gradual fall) >,—CRESCENDO (gradual rise) <,-SWELL AND FALL, <>,-TREMOR, (emotional).

GENERAL NOTES AND SUGGESTIONS. The importance of the diacritic mark in determining the “point” of a sentence may be illustrated by the possible changes in a common colloquial statement: “I do not intend walking to Richmond this day.”

In addition to the general meaning implied by the unaccented delivery of these simple words, the expression becomes definite and antithetic when any one word is made prominent.

If the student analyses the mode of producing any of the distinctive meanings, he will find that he must not only accent the “point” word, but lessen the vocal force of all the other words.-All sentences admit of similar differences of meaning: to be developed, not by stress alone, but by remission of stress on the contextual surroundings.

The Prominent“point” or Emphatic indicator, is placed 'before the word, although it is generally developed on the accented syllable of tbe word. Thus limpeach, 'approve, 'authority, contradict, loverpowered, &c., might have been printed im'peach, ap'prove, au'thority, contra'dict, overpowered, &c. Athough the inflected wave or emphatic stress is always greater on the accented syllable, yet the whole word is slightly affected, especially when other forms of giving verbal prominence are employed. For Prominence or Emphasis may be produced by

1. Time-or prolongation of the whole word. 2. Tune-inflected tones, simple or circumflexed. 3. Stress-elevating or lowering the voice on the accented syllable.

4. Pitch-suddenly changing the note. 5. Aspiration-either increasing or reducing the quality of breath. 6. Monotone-by increased and level fullness of voice.

7. Pause—by slight suspension before or after, or before and after, the word.

The Reader should endeavour to employ, at various times, all these various modes.

A change of voice and manner (however slight,) should significantly mark the various characters, as well as their varying emotions and sentiments. To secure " character " uniformity, the figures of the above scale may be marked on the margin of the page : thus, 3 (the natural or middle tone ; 3 (a little higher) and 3 (a little lower.) In this way fifteen varieties of Pitch-tones may be noted.

The names of the characters—(printed in large italics that they may be quickly discriminated by the eye)-do not require to be repeated in reading. The minor directions (printel ia small (Pearl) type and enclosed in brackets) are not intended for the auditor.

It is desirable to locate the position of the leading characters, as they may be mentally pictured around the Reader, and to maintain this uniformity throughout the Scene; changing it, however, as occasion may require. Thus—if Brutus addresses Cassius to the right, Cassius will reply to the left: other characters will address their utterances either to the centre-to the right of centre-or to the left of centre.

If the Reader is to undertake the continuous delivery of an entire play, the book should be held in the left hand ; leaving the right hand free to turn the page, or to give enforcement to the words by attitude or action. The use of a reading-stand is preferable, as both hands are then left free for discriminating and expressive action.

The Reader should, if possible, make himself so familiar with the dialogue as not to require to keep his eye constantly on the page: he should look, as it were, at the imaginary person addressed. The narratives should be spoken to the auditors.

Blend all your theories (as the great artist said of his mode of mixing colours, with brains : read aloud, standing if possible ; raise the chest, and keep it raised : give the lungs free scope to expand in every direction : separate logical utterances by free inspirations,--through the mouth for short pauses, through the nostrils for longer,-copiously, evenly, silently: allow no strain on the organs of voice or speech : give full sonorous value to the Vowels : articulate the Consonants sharply and distinctly, especially giving expressive sound to the voice-articulations : open the mouth freely, but without distortion, before and after all clauses and groups of oratorical words: let the voice stream outward, uninterrupted in its channel by the teeth, the tongue, or the lips : allow each distinct portion of meaning to float, as it were (or to rush, if necessary) to your most distant auditor: read from idea to idea, uttering each clause separately, and carefully subordinating inferior words to the “ point” of the sentence: pay no undeviating attention to any set of rules : read with the mind, and deliver freely, naturally, and earnestly the sentiments that have thus passed the ordeal of reason and judgment. Then, as Charles Kingsley powerfully says—“ Think that there is nothing to be ashamed of—but doing wrong; and no being to be feared-but Almighty God; and so go on, making the best of the body and soul which God has given you.” Continue to be a Student :

“Trust not yourself-try your defects to know
Make use of every friend-and every foe."

MERES' LIST.

In “Palladis Tamia, or Wits Treasury,” printed in 1598, Francis Meres thus writes :

“As Plautus and Seneca are accounted the best for Comedy and Tragedy among the Latines ; so Shakespere among ye English is the most excellent in both kinds for the stage : for Comedy, witnes his Gētlemē of Verona, his Errors, his Love labors lost, his Love labors wonne, ,a his Midsummer night dreame, and his Merchant of Venice : for Tragedy his Richard the 2, Richard the 3, Henry the 4, King John, Titus Andronicus, and his Romeo and Juliet.”

The Historical Plays are necessarily arranged in Historical order: but the following Table, shows, as correctly as can now be ascertained, their

[blocks in formation]

From the above Tabulated Form, it appears that of these Thirteen Historical Plays, Six were not printed till in the first folio of 1623. There is little doubt that many of the early quarto editions were printed without the knowledge of the author : they are described by the first Editors-John Heminge and Henrie Condell-as

" stolne and surreptitious copies, maimed and deformed by the fraudes and stealthes of injurious impostors.”—It is proper to mention that while these quarto copies have not been overlooked, the folio of 1623 has been generally followed. Deviations are marked in the notes by the letters 0. R. signifying Original Reading.

.

a Now named “All's Well that Ends Well." into One Reading.

b These Three Parts are condensed

KING JOHN.

[ocr errors]

The Historical Tragedy of King John must have been written by Shakespeare in 1594 or 1595; at least, before 1598; as it is, in that year, included in the list given by Francis Meres, in his “ Palladis Tamia, or Wits Treasury.”

In the composition of the series of English Historical Plays, Shakespeare usually referred, for the events he depicted, to the “ Chronicles” of Raphael Holinshed, published in 1577; but, with regard to the Tragedy of King John, he appears to have referred to two old Plays; the first-(standing, as it were, midway between the Moralities and the Historical Drama), written in the reign of Edward the Sixth, by John Bale, Bishop of Ossory (1495-1563) under the title of “ Kynge Johan”; and the second-a very popular anonymous play (printed in 1591) named “ The Troublesome Raigne of King John. Shakespeare's play, though frequently performed, was not printed till in the folio edition of 1623.

The story of this drama is, in some important respects, at variance with recognized history; in fact, the events of John's confused, weak, and wicked reign are not well calculated for dramatic representation. If the reader is not previously acquainted with the facts, he will in vain seek for a knowledge of them from the progress of the scene alone. The main-spring of all the “ trouble" is nowhere clearly shown ;—whether the Barons took up arms against the King, in defence of their own feudal authority? or—whether, as the tools of Philip of France, and the partisans of his son Lewis the Dauphin, they supported the claims of the Pope? Besides, throughout the play (in which Shakespeare closely follows “ The Troublesome Raigne') the great historical events of the armed meeting at Runnymede, and the signature of Magna Charta, are wholly omitted.

King Henry the Second, who died in 1189, had four sons : (1) Henry, who was accidentally drowned; (2) Geffrey, who,-either by the secret order, or by the connivance of his father,

-was trampled to death, soon after his marriage to the Lady Constance, Duchess of Brittany-having son, Prince Arthur, whose fate is involved in the Tragedy before us; (3) Richard, who, for his personal bravery during the Holy Wars in Palestine, was surnamed Caur-de-lion ;and (4) John, known as Sans Terre, or Lackland-a King who degraded England to the lowest depth of historical infamy.

Richard Caur-de-lion died childless in 1199: and his younger brother John—who had been to him a traitor and a rebel—succeeded to the throne of England: notwithstanding the superior claims of Prince Arthur, the son of his elder brother. This boy's title was supported by Philip King of France, by many of the French nobility, and (naturally) by his mother Lady Constance, Duchessregnant of Brittany.

In this play Shakespeare chronicles and connects events, in defiance of the dramatic unities of Time, Place, and Action; but

2 See page 8.

in defence of the poet, we may be allowed to quote the apologetic simile of Coleridge :- -“The histories of our ancient Kings—the events of their reigns, I mean--are like stars in the sky :—whatever the real inter-spaces may be, and however great, they seem close to each other. The stars—the events—strike us, and remain in our eye, little modified by the difference of dates,”- '-or of distance. Thus, our great dramatic poet often connects and unifies distant or dissimilar events :

“ Jumping o'er times, Turning the accomplishment of many years Into an hour-glass."

The Characters retained in this Condensation are : John, King of England.

PHILIP, King of France. PRINCE HENRY, his Son.

LEWIS, the Dauphin. ARTHUR, Duke of Bretagne,

ARCHDUKE OF AUSTRIA. Nephew of King John.

CARDINAL PANDULPH, the Pope's WILLIAM MARESHALL, Earl of

Legate. Pembroke.

CHATILLON, Ambassador from GEFFREY Fitz-PETER, Earl of

France. Essex.

QUEEN ELINOR, Widow of King WILLIAM LONGSWORD, Earl of

Henry II, mother of King Salisbury.

John, and grandmother of ROBERT BIgor, Earl of Norfolk.

Prince Arthur.

CONSTANCE, Mother of Prince HUBERT DE BURGH, Chamberlain

Arthur. to the King.

BLANCH, Daughter to Alphonso, RORERT FAULCONBRIDGE, Son of King of Castile, and niece of Sir Robert Faulconbridge.

King John. PHILIP FAULCONBRIDGE, his half Citizens of Angiers, Sheriff, Herbrother.

alds, Officers, and Messengers. The Scene is sometimes in England, and sometimes in France.

The Time extends from the beginning of the reign of King John in 1199, till his death in 1216.

We are to suppose before us, in the palace of Northampton, King John and his mother Queen Elinor, and Court-attendants ; with Chatillon, ambassador from the French King, Philip the Second (or, as some historians prefer to call him, Philip Augustus, because he was born in the month of August). King John speaks : K. John. Now, say, Chatillon, what would France with 'us ? Chat. Thus,-after greeting,-speaks the King of France,

In my behaviour, to the majesty,

The 'borrowed majesty,—of England here.
Q. El. A strange beginning !—“'Borrowed majesty ?”
K. John. Silence, good mother ; hear the embassy.
Chat. Philip of France,-in right and true behalf

Of thy deceaséd brother Geffrey's son,
Arthur Plantagenet,—lays most lawful claim
To this fair island, and the territories;

« AnteriorContinuar »