Lis­ten Up,

Pasatiempo - - LIS­TEN UP -

King Lear in which the char­ac­ters strike supremely thes­pian poses. But these some­how were made to serve as the point of de­par­ture for items that os­ten­si­bly demon­strated the “pa­thetic fal­lacy,” a term coined in the 19th cen­tury and used in aes­thet­ics to de­scribe how hu­man char­ac­ter­is­tics are at­trib­uted to phe­nom­ena of na­ture: when King Lear wan­ders in a storm on the heath, for ex­am­ple, the storm’s chaos, which has no sub­jec­tive value in na­ture, is viewed as a re­flec­tion of Lear’s state of mind. This leads to a se­ries of pic­tures whose con­nec­tion to the theme ranges from slight to nil: Charles Rus­sell’s 1898 ink- on-pa­per draw­ing Last of the Herd, in which hu­man on­look­ers and a f lock of sheep sur­round a dead steer and a bovine skull, or Billy Schenck’s post- Pre­ci­sion­ist oil Rough Riders (2015), of a cow­boy rop­ing cat­tle — at which point we have truly lost the thread. Stage, Set­ting, Mood: Theatri­cal­ity in the Visual Arts con­tin­ues on it s own fol­low­ing the de­par­ture of the First Fo­lio, now with six vit­rines and a study desk added to fill the cen­ter space.

Agentler, qui­eter, and ul­ti­mately more suc­cess­ful show is across the street at the New Mex­ico His­tory Mu­seum. The Book’s the Thing: Shake­speare From Stage to Page, in­stalled in a long, nar­row room of the Palace of the Gover­nors (which dates from Shake­speare’s life­time), grows out of the idea of the Firrst Fo­lio as a phys­i­cal book, a work of print­ing rath­her than of lit­er­a­ture or drama. Again, the topic is al­lowed a some­what loose leash, but it strolls en­joy­ablyably through var­i­ous print-cen­tered “takes” on the Bard, in­clud­ing dis­plays of Shake­speare edi­tions that are re­mark­able for their il­lus­tra­tion, type­set­ting, page de­sign, and bind­ing. Here we en­counter John Boy­dell again, through an 1874 edi­tion of his Gallery of Il­lus­tra­tions for Shake­speare’s Dra­matic Works, open to a quite hi­lar­i­ous im­age ti­tled The In­fant Shake­speare, in which the Baby Bard is placed in a crèche-like set­ting, at­tended by Na­ture and the Pas­sions. (One won­ders if an­other page might show him be­ing vis­ited by the three kings — say, Henry V, Richard III, and Lear.) Other en­grav­ings of Shake­spearean scenes come from the 19th-cen­tury print­maker C.W. Cope, il­lus­trat­ing Julius Cae­sar, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, The Merry Wives of Wind­sor, and A Mid­sum­mer Night’s Dream. The show also in­cludes brand-new cre­ations by way of 16 works of “book art” crafted by mem­bers of the Santa Fe Book Arts Group — some tak­ing the form of ac­tual books, oth­ers lean­ing in the di­rec­tion of sculp­tures formed from book­ish ma­te­rial, all of them ap­peal­ing and en­ter­tain­ing. Another se­ries of new pieces are Shake­speare quo­ta­tions beau­ti­fully ex­pressed in cal­lig­ra­phy ( by Pa­tri­cia Mu­sick) on mar­bled pa­pers (by Palace Press di­rec­tor Tom Leech). Be­ing a jour­nal­ist, my fa­vorite is an ob­ser­va­tion Rosen­crantz ut­ters in Ham­let: “Many wear­ing rapiers are afraid of goose-quills.”

Print­ing also has an ac­tive pres­ence in this show. At the end of the gallery is a replica of a Guten­berg-style hand-print­ing press, boast­ing the same tech­nol­ogy used to print the First Fo­lio, that is manned for a cou­ple of hours ev­ery day by folks from the Palace Press. Visi­tors, in­clud­ing many school groups, have been cap­ti­vated to watch this creak­ing, groan­ing ma­chine turn out a small page of Ham­let’s “To be, or not to be” so­lil­o­quy, each sheet the re­sult of de­lib­er­ate man­ual la­bor. This ex­hi­bi­tion charms at­ten­dees while po­si­tion­ing the First Fo­lio as an act rather than a thing, a verb rather than a noun.

A good many lec­tures pro­vided en­rich­ment for Shake­speare en­thu­si­asts. Of the sev­eral I at­tended, a greatly en­joy­able one was de­liv­ered by Stephen Grant (Feb. 19 at St. Fran­cis Au­di­to­rium), de­tail­ing theth story of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Clay Fol­ger, their pa as­sion for Shake­speare­ana, and their cre­ation of th he Fol­ger Shake­speare Li­brary; it was fol­lowed by

an en­ter­tain­ing con­ver­sa­tion with Santa Fe res­i­dent John An­drews, who for years worked on the staff of that in­sti­tu­tion. The next day the pro­ceed­ings as­sumed a more aca­demic pos­ture for a sym­po­sium ti­tled “Shake­speare in New Mex­ico and the West,” mod­er­ated by Bruce Smith. The open­ing pre­sen­ta­tion, by Univer­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia pro­fes­sor Heather James, aimed to ex­pli­cate Wil­liam Ja­cob Hays’ 1862 paint­ing A Herd of Buf­faloes on the Bed of the River Mis­souri, in­cluded in the Mu­seum of Art’s show, as a gloss on Ham­let. In the paint­ing, one bi­son turns away from the in­fi­nite herd to coun­te­nance a skull ly­ing on the (fore)ground. I gather her lec­ture was drawn from a larger re­search project. Although the paint­ing cer­tainly falls into the tra­di­tion of the me­mento mori, she seemed to have left out the part that clar­i­fied why one should see this par­tic­u­lar bi­son as Ham­let. The next lec­ture, by UNM pro­fes­sor Marissa Green­berg, looked at an ob­scure play ti­tled The Mer­chant of Santa Fe, by Lynn But­ler Knight and Ramón A. Flores, that was pro­duced in Al­bu­querque in 1993; and this served as a launch­ing pad for a sort of Shake­speare trav­el­ogue of our state. The play, which was never pub­lished and is not at this point avail­able to gen­eral read­ers, sounds in­trigu­ing, trans­pos­ing Shake­speare’s The Mer­chant of Venice to a crypto-Jewish com­mu­nity in New Mex­ico. Per­haps it can be brought to life in con­nec­tion with the up­com­ing ex­hi­bi­tion Frac­tured Faiths: Span­ish Ju­daism, the In­qui­si­tion, and New World Iden­ti­ties, set to open this May at the New Mex­ico His­tory Mu­seum. The af­ter­noon ended with a round­table in which was lightly dis­cussed the pros and cons of read­ing Shake­speare from a book ver­sus ex­pe­ri­enc­ing his plays in staged pro­duc­tions. It was found that plea­sures are af­forded by both.

Amon gt he per­for­mances born of the Shake­speare flurry, there was much to en­joy in Ever the Twain: Shake­speare in Mark Twain’s

Amer­ica, a ge­nial evening ( Jan. 31 at the Len­sic) in which Jonathan Richards (a Pasatiempo con­trib­u­tor) por­trayed the Bard and Robert Martin (the Len­sic’s ex­ec­u­tive/artis­tic di­rec­tor) took the part of Twain, the two of them find­ing com­mon ground through witty ex­changes, with lo­cal celebrity Va­lerie Plame read­ing a nar­ra­tion. One would like to imag­ine that this show could go on to a longer life. Lear’s Shadow (Feb. 27 at the Len­sic) was a one-man show fea­tur­ing Ge­off Hoyle, a long-ap­pre­ci­ated force in the “new vaude­ville” scene of Cal­i­for­nia’s Bay Area. He brought well-honed skills as a clown, mime, and ac­tor to an imag­i­na­tive per­spec­tive on Shake­speare: the tragedy of King Lear as seen from the view­point of Lear’s side­kick the Fool. The least com­pelling parts of the show were long ex­panses in which he es­sen­tially ren­dered speeches from Shake­speare’s play, im­i­tat­ing sev­eral char­ac­ters. This is a kind of the­ater that may ap­peal to Me­di­ae­val Fayre types more than to the rest of us, but one re­spected his achieve­ment for what it was.

Not so easy to ap­plaud was an event (Feb. 17 at the Adobe Rose Theatre) ti­tled Dames of Thrones: Women in Shake­speare’s His­to­ries, per­formed by the Duc­dame Ensem­ble (Ari­ana Karp, di­rec­tor) and pre­sented by Santa Fe’s In­ter­na­tional Shake­speare Cen­ter. It was a se­quence of 11 scenes, os­ten­si­bly se­lected to high­light strong women in Shake­speare’s plays, al­though the male char­ac­ters ac­tu­ally seemed more prom­i­nent and com­pelling in some of the ex­cerpts. The com­pany’s mostly Amer­i­can mem­bers — 13 of them ap­peared here — are all said to hold mas­ter’s de­grees from the Lon­don Academy of Mu­sic and Dra­matic Art, but most of their tal­ents seemed un­formed and what they achieved was merely col­le­giate. It would not merit com­ment ex­cept that one now sees the Duc­dame Ensem­ble be­ing de­scribed as the In­ter­na­tional Shake­speare Cen­ter’s reper­tory com­pany — which I sup­pose means that they will be back.

“Stage, Set­ting, Mood: Theatri­cal­ity in the Visual Arts” con­tin­ues through May 1 at the New Mex­ico Mu­seum of Art (107 W. Palace Ave.), though now bereft of the First Fo­lio.

“The Book’s the Thing: Shake­speare From Stage to Page” runs through March 26 at the Palace of the Gover­nors/New Mex­ico His­tory Mu­seum (113 Lin­coln Ave.).

Shake­speare’s First Fo­lio; right, replica of Guten­bergstyle hand-print­ing press, cour­tesy New Mex­ico His­tory Mu­seum; top, Dorothy Ste­wart:

A Mid­som­mer Night’s Dream, 1953, block print, cour­tesy New Mex­ico Mu­seum of Art

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