Philadelphia Reflections

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Shakspere Society of Philadelphia
Maybe not the first, but the oldest Shakespeare club in America or possibly even the world, has kept minutes for over a hundred fifty years.

SHAKSPERE SOCIETY February 5, 2003


Dean Wagner in the chair. Other members present: Bartlett, Binnion, Bornemann, Cramer, Di Stefano, Dupee, Fallon, Fisher, Frye, Griffin, Hopkinson, Ingersoll, Lehmann, Madeira, O' Malley, Peck, Warden, Wheeler.

Members are grateful to Messrs. Friedman, Pope, and Madeira for hosting the 2003 Annual Dinner on the Bard's birthday, Wednesday, April 23 The probable site will be the Awbury Arboretum in Germantown.

Dr. Orville "Pete" Horwitz, a longtime member of this Society, died on January 28 at the age of 93. A memorial service will be held on February 7 at eleven AM at the Church of the Redeemer in Bryn Mawr. Senior members recalled that Dr. Horwitz had loved the Society and had attended meetings faithfully for many years. He was a veteran of the Battle of Midway, and during his Navy service in World War Two, he was awarded the Bronze Star with two oak leaf clusters. He went on to a distinguished career as a cardiologist and medical scholar in Philadelphia. He is survived by his wife of almost seventy years, Natalie, a niece of John Foster Dulles. Members grinned at memories of Dr. Horwitz's vigorous role in an annual competition among men's clubs from New York, Boston, and Philadelphia to decide whose members could tell the funniest off-color stories. Dr. Horwitz starred in this competition, borrowing stories from his Trenton barber.

Mr. Dupee recently visited our senior member, Mr. Foulke, in Florida, and brings Mr. Foulke's cordial greetings to all Society members. Mr. Dupee also reported that he has arranged, on behalf of the annual Shakspere competition among local high schools students, for Society members Fallon and Peck to play a role this year. All twenty-eight of the young people competing will be presented with copies of Dr. Fallon's recently published reader's guide to Shakspere's plays. Dr. Peck will be one of the judges of this year's contest, to be held at the Walnut Street Theater on President's Day, February 17, from 9:00 AM through the afternoon. Each of the young people, winners of contests at their respective schools, will recite a passage of some twenty lines from one of the Bard's plays, and one of Shakspere's sonnets. The winner here goes on to competition among regional winners in New York City.

Members voted on whether they favored allowing women to be eligible for membership in the Society. Several members not present had already expressed their opinions to the Secretary or the Dean. Dean Wagner announced that the final tally was eighteen votes in the affirmative, thirteen in the negative, and nine active members not voting. The motion was therefore defeated since it did not receive the support of three-quarters of those voting. Women guests are of course always welcome. A couple of members commented that we have no rules either welcoming or rejecting the candidacy of women to be members of the Society. Presumably, anyone proposed as a member, according to whatever criteria we decide on following in the future, is eligible for election. The Bartlett Committee will shortly make recommendations as to what these criteria should be.

We elected to membership in the Society Mr. Jonathan Schmalzbach, proposed as a candidate by Mr. Lehmann. We will welcome another dinner visit in the near future by Mr. Ake's friend Michael Mabry, who visited us twice in October.

We completed our reading of The Two Gentlemen of Verona in short order. We noted in Act Four that the disguised Julia analyzes her feelings about her perfidious lover Proteus at some length; she prefigures articulate psychologists of love in Shakspere's later and better romantic plays. Julia and Silvia are by far the most vigorous and strong-minded characters in this weak play, suggesting Rosalind and Juliet and Viola and Olivia, and even, perhaps, Desdemona, in later masterpieces about conflicted love. In Act Five, we visit the forest, so often a symbolically important setting for scenes in the Bard's plays of love, as in Midsummer Night's Dream and As You Like It. Strong emotions cause turmoil but are reordered after threats to lovers' happiness.


Respectfully submitted Robert G. Peck Secretary

Originally published: Thursday, January 31, 2008; most-recently modified: Wednesday, June 05, 2019