Bawd-ily functions

[CONTENT REDACTED: In this blog entry, I made reference to Dr. Pauline Kiernan’s work and book on bawdy in the Bard, Filthy Shakespeare; in doing so, I have offended her by my tone and use of her material. I apologize for the offense, and have thus redacted the reference.]

Sexuality so pervasive that even the bawdy is subconscious


A few weeks back, I bemoaned how Measure for Measure is timeless, but almost too timely. The play’s Vienna is rampant with sexuality, most of it rancid. So is our current world.

We live in the world of Measure for Measure.

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Party in the ‘burbs!

Remember how I’ve been saying (er, writing) that Measure for Measure is perhaps a little too timeless, a little too timely for our world? (how could you, I’ve been banging that subject like a drum lately… and with the discussion of bawdy coming up–you ain’t heard nothin’ yet…) Well, Willy Shakes, that sly societal observer, wasn’t afraid to mix in a little contemporary commentary in his plays.

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Podcast 116: Measure for Measure: Big, Big Bawdy


[WARNING: The following podcast contains adult language, sexual imagery, sophomoric humor and words to make your mama blush. Skip and wait for Podcast 117 if easily offended. You HAVE been warned.]

This week’s podcast continues our two month-long discussion of Measure for Measure with a whole lotta nudge-nudge wink-wink, dirty innuendo, and some not-so-sexy talk.

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The ending of Measure for Measure: future of Vienna

As Measure for Measure comes to an end, I’ve got a simple question:

What the does future hold for Vienna?

How does the duke move forward?

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The ending of Measure for Measure: beginning of marriages

At the end of Measure for Measure, we get the generic comedic ending: marriage and birth.

There is the promise of multiple weddings–one assured–before the close of the action…

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Measure for Measure: Scansion-hidden acting/directing clues

Most of Shakespeare’s plays are written in poetry; in the case of Measure for Measure, nearly 60% of the lines are in verse. When the verse is metrical, and mostly, we’re talking about blank verse–unrhymed iambic pentameter–then variations from that regularity can often point out something to help us as actors and directors. And as I do with every play, let’s take a look at acting direction we get from the scansion.

In most cases, the clues we get are in two forms: pauses and interrupts.

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Measure for Measure: Dialogue-hidden stage directions

I’ve discussed in the past the lack of stage directions in the Shakespearean texts (or at least the relative lack compared what we are used to now). So, as I like to do with every play, let’s take a look at how Shakespeare has sprinkled stage direction within the dialogue of Measure for Measure.

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Measure for Measure: Out of the corridors of power

Just a quick observation re: settings in Measure for Measure

I find it very interesting that the duke demands that in the final scene of the play he be greeted by Angelo “a league below the city” (IV.iii.98), outside the city gates. Up until this point, all of the play had taken place within Vienna (even the “moated grange” [III.i.262] at Saint Luke’s seems inside the city gates).

Is this because the resolution must take place outside the city limits, as the solution is not to be found within?

Pawns, not queens

Quick hit: I’m seeing a complete absence of female empowerment in Measure for Measure. If there was such a thing as emasculation of the female, this play might be evidence Exhibit A. Let’s take a look at the women in the play, from least to most powerful…

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