The definitive, abiding, iconic image of theatre

32 thoughts on “The definitive, abiding, iconic image of theatre

  1. Boooooooo!

    Yeah that’s right Shakespeare, I just gave you the Bronx cheer. Whadaya gonna do? Trochee me to death?

  2. I have performed that juvenile, anachronistic, “Do you bite your thumb at me sir?” scene, i am not kidding over 100 times as a student, actor and educator. It’s over, it’s done, it’s stupid, it sucks.

    Shakespeare, I bite my thumb at you sir, for you are not for me!

  3. Okay, then we'll just use YOUR weary, insolent mug as the definitive, abiding icon of theatre.

    We'll fly it up the flagpole & see who salutes.

  4. Sigh, in my day, I blogged with the best …

    Wheeler, I suppose you also think Beethoven is “for squares” and that Michaelangelo “doesn’t speak” to you. Oh yeah, and that the Pyramids of Egypt are “no big deal”.

    Still waiting for your notion of an iconic image of theatre.

  5. Shakespeare, how come your comments aren’t iambic or in pentameter? How about a little assonance? You haven’t even invented any new words in this conversation.

    As for your image request, I imagine you’ve been insecure about these folks for a while now, but here’s an alternative that many of the world’s theatre goers and makers find more iconic.

    I’m also insanely glad you posed your other question, because the #1 way that people get bullied into saying they like your work, when really they don’t, is the idea that they are somehow ignorant or stupid and saying they don’t like you means that you are either unintelligent or uninformed.

    This ignores the fact that we’ve all been given a huge amount of exposure to you and you’ve alienated the majority of the population because you simply don’t resonate the way you used to.

    Sucks to be yesterday’s man, but happens to the best of us.

  6. # 1 – I'm known for the vast tonal range of my writing, and suit my style to the occasion, thou tiddlebrained aurochs-felcher.

    # 2 – Blame Stratford Ontario for making me sucky & irrelevant. I do.

    # 3 – Thy vaunted "link" doth not work, but I care not. I expect it's a picture of your navel.

    # 4 – If I am yesterday's man, then Tomorrow truly DOES creep in a petty pace from day to day until the last syllable of recorded time.

    EPILOGUE: Thou'st proved nothing, little man, save that thou art little.

  7. wow.

    you’re like going through all my shakespeare pet peeves one by one. first, the insinuation that all who do not like you are philistines, followed by quoting from yourself as justification for why you are brilliant.

    and you wonder why no one likes you anymore.

    here’s the link to my navel:

  8. 1 – Wheeler, seagulls are screaming scavenging vermin. Swans are glorious.

    2 – Those who like me not ARE Philistines. Lazy ones.

    3 – Ian, I apologize for my Comedies. I wrote them for money, and I admit they are about as funny as skin cancer.

    # 4 – “I’m a seagull … no, that’s not right.” Duuh.

  9. J Kelly – maybe there could be a Panych-Shakespeare comments cage match. Shaw could guest referee.

    Now there’s something that would have people jumping to their feet!

  10. Most people who know about the Seagull associate it with more than a single artist or scene from a play.

    Generally it brings to mind:
    A Chekhov
    M Chekhov
    to name a few.
    more recently it conjures:
    Kama Ginkas
    Anatoly Smelianski
    these folks, i will argue, are the current top director and dramaturg in the world respectively.

    but what do i know? i’m a lazy philistine.

  11. No, methinks thou art veering the other way, Professor Hoity Toity.

    The name “Smelianski” maketh me giggle.

  12. “This ignores the fact that we’ve all been given a huge amount of exposure to you and you’ve alienated the majority of the population because you simply don’t resonate the way you used to.”

    Oh fuck. When did that happen? I must’ve missed that news flash because I’ve gone on ignorantly finding resonance to my humanity. Guess I’d better wise up and “get bullied into” admitting I don’t like him.

  13. Yes, MW has been talking out of his ass and making a huge number of indefensible statements. He obviously has some bitter personal memory connected with Shakespeare. Too bad, he should get therapy. The works of WS show no signs of fading away. His tremendous gift to the world will endure, eternally new, as long as people have eyes and ears and hearts.

    MW can get bent.

  14. Mary- I’m not talking about the 1% of us who still go to the theatre and might read this blog. Many of us still like the shakester (not me, but a lot of my friends), but it’s like eating hors d’oeuvres on the deck of the Titanic. Honestly. enough is enough. It’s a good tool for teaching poetics in university and I like it as a back story in Slings and Arrows. C’est tout.

    Anon- It’s not a bitter memory. It’s my experience of living in the here and now. Yes I will get Bent. It’s an awesome play, and when I stage it it will resonate with the audience a lot more than a bunch of folks running around a park in tights engaging in mistaken identity gags that I swear to God were funnier on Married With Children.

  15. I don’t think Shakespeare has seemed more relevant to me than it has in the past 8 years or so, as I’ve watched my country (U.S.A.) living out the histories and tragedies. (A sad way to have the plays hit home, alas.)

    Obviously, we (U.S.A.) won’t get to the comedies until the day we grow up and allow everyone and anyone to get married.

    As much as I love Shakespeare, I wouldn’t choose him as the abiding iconic image of theatre, mainly because that seems to discount the existence of theatre before his time.

  16. WS is a bridge between ancient/medieval theatre and modernity, which makes him the perfect definitive image for theatre.

    Frankly, I can’t think of single MORE definitive symbol for the art form, except for those silly kitschy 2 theatre masks.

  17. I don’t know. There’s something about designating one person as the definitive image of theatre that doesn’t work for me. But I don’t have any alternative ideas, so what do I know? If it were to be a person, I can’t think of anyone more appropriate than WS.

  18. Yes, it’s a decidedly Anglocentric – Eurocentric – phallocentric choice, but I defy anyone to present a compelling alternative.

    Shakespeare was the man who knocked Theatre out of the park, and defined our very notion of excellence. He remains so, and is recognized as such in every corner of the world. End of argument.

  19. To MW:

    1 – Be honest. You’re just bitter, because you will never EVER work at Stratford. Because of your lousy attitude (vicious circle).

    2 – I have no doubt you’ve got a mental block and will never “get” Shakespeare, but let’s remember this conversation was initially about the world — not about you.

    3 – You claim to speak for other people as well as yourself. In that capacity, I have no choice but to call you a bullsh*t jive turkey.

    4 – “Bent” is a pretentious wank of a play and a travesty of the (very real) Holocaust. “Get bent” is a British-ism akin to “get stuffed”.

  20. Well i thought i was done with this conversation, but the level of vitriol makes this hard to resist.

    On to your comments Mary:

    Really, I feel like I will work at Stratford one day. Likely as a director, unlikely to be working on Shakespeare however. In any case, one of my better qualities is my attitude in the rehearsal room, so I doubt that will have much to do with it either way.

    This borders on solipsism, and is definitely elitist, but I’m so sick and tired of people painting those of us who do not enjoy Shakespeare as ignorant and unintelligent that frankly it’s worth risking it:

    Separate from my professional practice, I have 4 years of an English Literature degree from McGill (with distinction), followed by 2 more years of lectures from Robert Brustein and Harold Bloom at Harvard, followed by 4 years of as an educator teaching classical text to thousands of teens.

    At what point am I qualified to say: I “get” Shakespeare, but I don’t like him?


    Really? I had no idea. I thought anon wanted me to pick up a copy of the play.

  21. Once again, MW, I don't know why you insist on making this comment thread all about yourself. ("with distinction", my arse)

    But, enough for now of me pushing your silly little buttons. If you & I happen to meet up in Stratford (haha), I promise you I will buy you a beer, and I'll call you a Stinkiovsy aurochs-felcher to your face.

  22. wow anon, i really frigging hope i am sitting at a bar, wallowing in a sorrow that welled up in me from a particularly poignant sense memory exercise, when over my left shoulder I will be snapped back to reality by the (rough/silky/trill/booming) sound of:

    “Wheeler you old Stinkiovsy aurochs-felcher. What the devil are you doing in these parts? Still railing against The Bard are we? I went through that phase too. How’s it going for you?”

    if this in fact happens, i will buy the beer.

    then we can talk about how you a manage to get away with calling me names and asking me why i think you’re talking to me in the same breath.

  23. FYI, I’m a cider drinker and I like a lot of it.

    I’ll see you at Bentley’s. I’ll be wearing a sneer and carrying a dead seagull.

  24. Hi Gerald,

    Thanks for the comment. That’s a great point about the lack of idolatry in this depiction of Shakespeare. For such an renowned figure, his likeness seems remarkable “cool” (by that I mean, lacking the heat of any clear association with a particular ideology). Is that accurate? If it is, how does the image of Shakespeare avoid (to a large degree) overt ideological associations?

    Anyway – as for iconic images of theatre that have been left out? Any suggestions? Thanks!

  25. There is no idolatry of Shakespeare here but, even his “worst” is more galvanizing and of a larger imaginative scope than the best of most others. The education you boast of Michael is hardly evident in your comments. To say Shakespeare sucks and is not relevant etc. are the kinds of comments I hear from uncultivated high school students. Who one studies with is a sense meaningless; it’s what one makes of oneself from such teachers.

    Granted, there are far more iconic images of theater that have been left out, but beyond one’s solipsistic circle, for the world, for the history of theater, Shakes is one of those images. How about simply adding some more and suggesting others instead of the freshman bile?

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