Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 17, No. 8. May 27, 1953
Sir,—I wish to express my appreciation of Mr. Dronke's well-written observations and criticisms of "Othello" and "As You Like It." I am sure we will agree with most of his comments on "Othello." The subtle lago of Mr. McKern's gave us an Insight into characterisation all too rarely seen in New Zealand. Miss Jefford's performance as Desdemona was great for its essential simplicity and was truly moving in the final scene.
I am not disparaging Mr. Quayle's memorable portrayal of "Othello" but we cannot just sit back and relax our critical faculties because such a wonderful company was with us.
In "Othello" the hero is gradually deluded into believing a horror and the final tragedy comes with the realisation of the delusion. The crescendo is one of false discovery and the drama lies in a mental progression on the part of the hero—-a progression whose nature and finality are not understood by him but are realised and foreseen at every point by the audience. What are the dramatic requirements for Othello's situation? A great soul? A passionate nature? Yes, both these, with an intellectual equipment that must be unsuspicious, easily thrown off mental balance—a creature easily susceptible to deceit.
Mr. Quayle's Othello seemed (as Mr. Dronke says) to be too obvious in his Jealousy and to show it too soon. The Jealousy is a more restrained and simple one than we were shown.
I too, feel that the part of Desdemona's death scene was spoilt by Othello's pointing. The line, "Put out the light, and then put out the light." gives its own understanding and should not require the actor to point as he says it.
Coming to "As You Like It" I think the producer had every right to cut the play as he wished, adapting his characters likewise. Leo McKern as Touchstone had to follow Mr. Quayle's instructions and play up to the comedy side of the part instead of being "a cynical philosopher in the guise of a buffoon." You say "Barbara Jefford's Rosalind was technically very wonder"—this I heartily agree upon, but "somewhat cold and statuesque"? The one factor that struck me about her acting was the mellowness and the warmth and vitality that came across to the audience.
But thank you again for your observations—a much better standard of criticism than last year.
And a Question
Sir,—I have one question to ask Mr. Courtney. Why has a producer every right to cut a play as he wishes, "adapting the characters likewise?" I hope Mr. Courtney has time to reply to this question. If so, I also hope that he remembers that no modern conductor dreams of cutting a Beethoven symphony, and that "adapting" has not the same meaning as 'Interpreting."
Full or Part Time?
Sir,—I would like to be a full-time student—already having been one for a year in U.K.—but who pays? Food for thought does not fill an empty belly.
I. H. Douglas
True—but think of what it does to the mind.—Ed.