‘Play out the play!’
A Toast to Shakespeare
“O, had I but followed the arts!” Celebrating William Shakespeare (1616 – 2016)
Conference 14 Dec 2016
The very brief multisensory gastronomic experience that we are inviting you to embark on with us offers one more reading of Falstaff as “affirmation of a dynamic vitalism” (Bloom 278) artistically brought to life by Shakespeare in Sir John’s vigorous prose spoken in 1 and 2 Henry IV. This reading was produced by the ULICES RG1 Project Receiving | Perceiving English Literature, and based on the principle that the different forms of receiving a literary text reveal as much about the time and place of that reception as about those of its creation, or more, for “all knowledge is interpretation, a transfer of meaning from one moment of history into another that always inflects what is known with the categories and assumptions of the later moment” (Rivkin and Ryan 129).
The interest in Portugal for these plays came through the first performance of Verdi’s Falstaff (1893-4) and those dialogues challenge us to play out the play on Falstaffian own terms and apprehend his central presence as the embodiment of a wide metaphorical significance. Although Falstaff persists on playing an ambivalent representative of the human multitude, he is commonly depicted for his gluttony nature and excessive interest in foodstuff, clearly pairing with other excesses. Even when criticised for an imbalanced walk of life, Falstaff was still popular and created some tension in the audiences who regarded him with affection (Fitzpatrick 36).
Considering his intensive sanguine temperament, we chose to offer “Falstaff ‘out of compass’ –
a pocket edition”. The essence of our perception pondered on creating some balance and, accordingly, we played with a sweet and savoury moment, using capon, spinach, apples, cloves, dried fruits (Morton and Coppolino 36) in minute pasties – all elements familiar to contemporary playgoers (Dalby and Dalby 82).
Alcinda Pinheiro de Sousa, Cláudia Viegas, Francisco Castro Fernandes,
Maria José Pires, Ricardo Bonacho, Sónia Oliveira.