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Pestle in South Korea
Bar Harbor
So, the South Korean english class got around to watching our "Knight of the Burning Pestle" DVD.
Here's some ensuing email (quoted with permission):
Our class greatly enjoyed your production today, espcially the portrayal of
the citizen couple was the main topic of today's discussion.
Concerning the "cuteness" of your George and Nell, there was a dispute
whether the couple's intimacy is one of the targets of satire(because they
break the convention of play and the social decorum)
or a proof of the play's genuine warmth towards the citizens.
One of the students pointed out that since we live in a society that is
very much "bourgeois"( I mean modern Korean society) that value private
life over all things else, we are more easily led to take their intimacy
Overall, we felt that the production was quite sympathetic to the citizen
couple while keeping the original text.
(someone detected the change in the script; some comments on Rafe
originally given to Wife are given to George in the production, and whether
that change is significant as an adaptation was another point of the
And I felt that the class now have more clear sense of what the play would
look like on stage thanks to the DVD.

and my reply:
Excellent! I'm glad you enjoyed it, and that it was useful.

At this late date, I don't remember any particular intentional
interpretation I was imposing on George and Nell's relationship, though I
may well have had one at the time. Or, it might have been that the
cuteness originated from the actors, and I just went with it :-) I did
knowingly cast the part of George with an actor who was very much a
larger-than-life member of the local community, known to be both bombastic
and charismatic. The actress playing Nell was married to him at the time,
so perhaps some of their chemistry comes from their real-life

Similarly, I don't now recall the specific line changes you refer to. I
have a vague memory that some of that may have been due to an attempt to
slightly reduce the burden of memorization on Nell's actress -- her part
is *extremely* large, the most lines in the play by a good margin, if I
recall correctly. It was definitely the case that some outright cuts were
at least partially motivated by memorization difficulties, though other
concerns factored in. I do recall that Rafe's long death poem was trimmed
with an eye towards picking up the pacing, and for removing some of the
bits that I thought would be more obscure to a modern audience.

Of course, whatever my reasoning may have been, all changes are part of
the process of adaptation, and are legitimate grounds for discussion.
Even changes done for one simple, boring, practical reason, will have
repercussions on other levels. I can (or at least could if I had a better
memory) tell you what *I meant*; I can't tell you with authority what *it

So, any interest in a viewing party? Say, some weekend in November? Early responses may influence my exact choice of date :-)

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My recollection were that George and Nell were being mocked by their portrayal.

In particular, their narcissism and entitlement was underscored by several decisions to make them as vulgar in their flirting as possible. I remember -- I will never forget, seared as deeply on my soul as it is -- the business with the hand gestures aka Little Bunny Froo-Froo and your explanation of the significance of the concept "coney".

Which, I have to say, deeply enriched my understanding of the period.

"seared", huh? Not quite what I was going for, but Art is Perilous.

Congratulations on a conversation with intelligent and interested correspondents from so far away - and hooray for the Internet which can bring them together as never before.
Congrats also on what must me a most rare - dare I say "unique"? - four-rword subject header.

I would love to see this sometime, as there were a couple of Minions in there who are excellent friends of mine, but I didn't get to see the play because we weren't yet friends at the time. (And, y'know, I was far away.)

Similarly, I don't now recall the specific line changes you refer to. I have a vague memory that some of that may have been due to an attempt to slightly reduce the burden of memorization on Nell's actress

No, that wasn't it. I remember it very well because I was so upset. George stole my lines.

I'm pretty sure if you're paying attention you can see I was flustered when it happened. He told me after the show that he thought it would be funnier that way.

I'm very glad they enjoyed the show, and thanks for posting their comments.

"Remember it very well" trumps "vague memory".

In theater, there's authorial intent, directorial intent, and then there's what the actors actually *do* when they're the ones on stage, and nobody can practically stop them any more.

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