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The Chamberlain’s Men moved to a new playhouse at the end of the 1590s: the Globe. The association of Henry V and Hamlet with Shakespeare and the Globe has, I argue, distorted our perception of their place in London’s theatrical marketplace. By putting Shakespeare’s plays into some unexpected dialogues with lost plays, I aim to defamiliarize Henry V and Hamlet and trace new sets of associations between their subject matter (and form) and the plays of other companies. Specifically, I argue that Henry V can be seen as the culmination of Shakespeare’s 1590s romance comedies as much as of the Henriad, and that it can thus be regarded as a continuation of the 1590s rather than a turn-of-the-century play intended for the Globe (and thus, by implication, a break with the past). Likewise, Hamlet can be seen as participating in a ‘Danish matrix’ of 1590s plays that playgoers would recognise as having its own set of expectations and concerns. Furthermore, in proposing a new identification of the likely subject matter of ‘felmelanco’, I argue that the fact of the Danish prince having studied at Wittenberg seems to speak importantly to a hitherto underappreciated repertorial context preoccupied with theology in 1602.
This chapter begins by demonstrating that an attention to transition was a key element in some prominent literary critical writing of the later eighteenth century. I then argue that, within such writing, the understanding of transition evolves from that explored in my earlier chapters. Borrowing a term that Elizabeth Montagu, William Richardson, and their contemporaries make frequent use of, one might call this evolution a shift from dramatic transition to ‘dramatic character’. Montagu does this as she argues for the moral impact of Shakespeare’s incessantly enthralling dramatic characters, and Richardson when he claims that Shakespeare’s dramatic characters are such perfect imitations of life that their passions and transitions might serve as the subjects of philosophical enquiry into human nature. I use Maurice Morgann’s Essay on the Dramatic Character of Falstaff (1777) and David Hume's Treatise of Human Nature (1740) to illuminate the tensions inherent in such a critical standpoint, as efforts to explain moments of spectacular dramatic transition in terms of a character's stable identity risk minimising the spectacle that invited such explanation in the first place.
Kenneth Branagh acted in and directed more Shakespeare plays than any other filmmaker before him; yet he also defied what was expected from a Shakespearean actor-director. First, he used the codes of Hollywood cinema to make the plays entertaining and available to a younger, more popular audience. Second, he not only adapted Shakespeare but also ventured into directing Hollywood blockbusters, as well as more intimate projects on stage and screen, injecting Shakespearean echoes into a new range of productions. Through his taste for popular, mainstream movies, his bold self-made trajectory that carried him repeatedly in and out of the ‘Establishment’, Branagh has contributed to redefining relations between Shakespeare and Hollywood, between the art house and the multiplex, and between theatre and cinema. Through his ceaselessly renewed ‘vaulting ambition’ of bringing Shakespeare to the people, Branagh has constructed over the years the ideologically complex persona of a working-class Shakespearean entrepreneur.
This chapter explores Zeffirelli’s three Shakespearean films, The Taming of the Shrew (1967), Romeo and Juliet (1968) and Hamlet (1990), well known for the visual banquets they constitute, the memorable soundscapes they feature and their stimulating casting choices. The purpose of this chapter is to suggest that, as designer and director, Zeffirelli has managed to combine movement and fixity, so that these films can be regarded as living monuments. Far from being mere visual decoration, the designs that are at the heart of Zeffirelli’s films are infused with life and reinvigorate the vision of the plays. Analysing ‘household stuff’ coming to life in The Taming of the Shrew, the battle of energies in Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet’s labyrinth of fury, the chapter shows how the architecture and design of the films make them monuments. There is a lot of art in this matter. There is a lot of life in these monuments.
This chapter considers the ways in which filmmakers have established the ‘tragic universe’ in screen adaptations of Hamlet, King Lear and Macbeth, through attention to the environment. Filmmakers repeatedly foreground the interplay between human body, physical surroundings and filmic space in ways that foreground the tragic environment as subjectively experienced and produced, and in turn see that environment producing and influencing its human subjects. The chapter moves between three kinds of tragic environment. The open spaces of films by Akira Kurosawa, Roman Polanski, Justin Kurzel, and Grigori Kozintsev frame human conflict within the natural world, a world that often suffers ecological catastrophe alongside its inhabitants, but which also endures. Another strand of films, including work by Michael Almereyda, Penny Woolcock, Don Boyd and Vishal Bhardwaj, establishes urban environments that privilege an interpretive focus on community, claustrophobia, consumption, and class. Finally, other filmmakers from Laurence Olivier to Kit Monkman, as well as directors of stage-to-screen adaptations, utilise cinematic technique to foreground inner psychological space, with environments constructed subjectively around their protagonists.
Though films on Shakespeare have been made in India since 1923, it is Vishal Bhardwaj’s tragic trilogy, Maqbool (2004), Omkara (2006) and Haider (2014) that has caught international critical attention. The essay examines Bhardwaj’s predilection for Shakespeare, the reception of his films and his auteur’s style of filmmaking and adaptation, which straddles both the global and the local. It argues that his remaking of Shakespeare deploys popular features of Bollywood cinema, e.g. adding back stories and songs, but adjusts them to enable the narrative of the plays to speak to the situations of today. His versions radicalise the women, intervene in Indian contexts and modify the tragic endings. They reflect a poetic sensibility that delves deep into Shakespeare to produce perceptive and layered cinematic visualisations of the plays.
No-one has yet quite agreed what to call it: livecast, live from, simulcast, alternative content, cinecast, cinemacast, streamed transmission, outside broadcast, digital broadcast cinema, ‘live’ theatre broadcast, captured live broadcast, event cinema, theatrofilm. But the phenomenon of cinema broadcasts, live, delayed and encore, is a new and striking area for the experience of Shakespeare theatre productions. Their various forms of transmission and consumption mark out crucial questions about the distribution and audiences for the event-object, whatever name we give it. The chapter looks at the techniques for filming live performance and the ways it makes meaning. It then examines examples from the National Theatre in London or from other theatres whose Shakespeare productions it distributes (under the label National Theatre Live), as well as Shakespeare’s Globe and the Royal Shakespeare Company.
This chapter addresses aspects of the trans-cultural or merging process at play in Kurosawa’s three Shakespeare adaptations Kumonosu-j / Macbeth (1957), The Bad Sleep Well / Hamlet (1960) and Ran / King Lear (1985) in terms of narrative and thematic parallels, correspondences from local models to Shakespearean ones and symbolic collusions. For each film, the mode of representation is suggestive rather than literal. The play-film dialectical effects never produce the same pessimistic discourse as in the model text, but one essentially of the same nature and depth. Narrative shifts, radical dialogues transformations allow the necessary adjustments and seamless coalescence between Japanese cultural contexts and Shakespeare worlds. Thematic parallels highlight similar circular, tragic patterns. Various techniques and aesthetics (Noh, painterly effects) blend with the sheer cinematic to depict a dark human saga in realistic worlds verging on symbolism.
A Welshman striving to make it in the English world, Jones’ path toward leadership in the international psychoanalytical movement was long and strenuous. Although not as innovative compared to others included in this volume, he made unique contributions in bringing psychoanalysis to the English-speaking world. On the brink of WWII, he risked his life to go to Vienna, already occupied by the Nazis, where he managed to convince the dying Freud to leave Austria for London. Personally responsible for bringing both Melanie Klein and Anna Freud to England, he was caught in the middle of vicious fights between these two powerful women and their followers, and barely survived a near-fatal heart attack. From age seventy to his death at seventy-nine, Jones labored at completing the 1500-page, three-volume Sigmund Freud: Life and Work, which remains the only officially authorized biography of Freud.
Grief permeates all of Shakespeare’s tragedies, and many of his comedies and histories too, but none is so resolutely focused on what it means to feel loss as Hamlet. From the personal loss of a father, to the social loss of a king, to an existential loss of meaning and place in the world, Hamlet explores what happens when one’s sense of life and individuality collapses into something rote and mechanical. This chapter investigates how Hamlet the play, and Hamlet the character, exceed early modern conventions concerning grief in an effort to turn a harrowingly ‘common’ emotion into something much more ‘particular’. By moving away from established understandings of grief, Shakespeare’s play explores how this devastating passion might create new worlds of meaning and, in doing so, help set ‘out of joint’ ones ‘right’. At the same time, the chapter examines how an over-investment in the idiosyncratic nature of grief undermines and even callously contributes to other tragedies in the play, including Ophelia’s death and Denmark’s crumbling political order. Ultimately, the play dramatises both the difficulty and urgency of balancing the ‘particular’ and the ‘common’ when it comes to grief, even as it leaves the possibility of their coexistence unresolved.
This chapter considers the concept of emotional labour in relation to Shakespearean drama. Emotional labour, a term coined by the sociologist Arlie Hochschild in her pioneering study of flight attendants, describes the skilled management of feeling by service and care workers. The concept has recent been taken up by critics of Shakespeare to characterise the work of the theatre in manipulating the emotions of its audience, a natural development given that theorists like Hochschild were themselves inspired by work on the performing arts. Against conceptions of emotional labour as evanescent and lacking in surplus value, the chapter argues that the emotional work of the stage has enduring effects on the bearing and sensibilities of its audience. Through readings of metatheatrical moments in Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Ben Jonson’s Every Man Out of His Humour, it contends that early modern plays were not only concerned with the expression and solicitation of emotion: they also explicitly sought to condition the emotional practice of their spectators.
This chapter argues that Hamlet’s status as the preeminent early modern instantiation of modern subjectivity, which dates back to the romantic era, is predicated upon the downgrading of Senecan tragedy’s status and upon misunderstanding the nature of Shakespeare’s relationship with the Senecan tradition. Senecan tragedy as a tradition offers resources for thinking about self-assertion and its limits, and these underpin questions about agency, choice and pre-scriptedness that have been foundational for the tradition that sees Hamlet as a “tragedy of thought.” Hamlet’s post-Freudian association with Oedipus, meanwhile, though traditionally associated with Sophocles, is better understood as part of what we might call a Senecan Oedipus complex. In Senecan tragedy (including Seneca’s Oedipus) the figure of the mother is one symbolic representation of the limits of human autonomy, but the symbolic meaning of the figure of the mother is not limited to a domesticated narrative of infantile development. Critics have asked why Hamlet, of all plays, should have become the key proof text for modern theories of subjectivity and psychology; this chapter suggests that the nature of the play’s engagement with Seneca may be a major reason.
This chapter asks where and how Rome (and, by extension, polemics self-consciously characterized as reactions against Rome) figures in efforts to determine what the living owe to the dead, and what the dead can do for the living. Latin occupies a controlling position within this inquiry; so, too, do texts that cast the world of the living as the home of the dead; so, finally, do Reformation-era debates about the soteriological stakes of praying for the dead. These topics span a period of time in which Rome is the gravitational centre of a sequence of massive upheavals in vernacular piety and attendant debates about the relationship between the living and the dead. The chapter argues that interpreting these debates as facets of the fact of Rome alerts us to the role that the human voice plays in probing the limits of mortality and the nature of the human as such.
This chapter argues that as Shakespeare was canonised as Britain’s national poet from 1660 through to the end of the eighteenth century, so editors and critics increasingly presented him as bourgeois and respectable, minimising the plays’ barbarous violence, ghosts and witches – their ‘Gothic’ elements. Between 1764 and 1768, Horace Walpole wrote The Castle of Otranto (a novel/romance hybrid), Historic Doubts on the Life and Reign of King Richard the Third (a revisionist history) and The Mysterious Mother (a Shakespearean blank-verse tragedy), three different genres that variously appropriate and rework Shakespeare. Confronting the national poet, the argument holds, enabled him to work through his fears of illegitimacy, the sense that he had no claim to being the trueborn son of the powerful Sir Robert Walpole and the implied adultery of his beloved mother. His reading of Hamlet’s anger and loathing of his mother Gertrude’s behaviour unconsciously facilitated Horace Walpole’s invention of ‘Gothic Story’, which he located within the walls of an ancient castle haunted by the family secrets generated by the laws of patriarchy.
Can you teach someone to be an actor? Paradoxically, the French cultural context while constraining the remit of the actor allowed acting to emerge as an autonomous science. The conservatoire training model that flourished in France in the nineteenth century was vigorously resisted by the nineteenth-century English actor-manager. Training or talent: the classical debate: Cicero and Quintilian resisted Aristotle’s claim that acting was merely ‘natural’. Early modern apprenticeship in the science of acting: our best evidence comes from Paris in the Shakespearean era, where Hardy’s classical dramaturgy demanded new skills. Multiple skills served the craft of acting. Early modern schooling: the example of Marston’s boy actors: how boys with a rhetorical education challenged the older generation of professionals. Hamlet: fencing as a foundation for acting: Hamlet learns to ‘act’ by learning to fence, and I trace the enduring place of fencing in actor training, distinguishing Italian and English methods. The pedagogy of Charles Macklin: a case study in how eighteenth-century acting was taught. The birth of the conservatoire: first championed by Lekain and his contemporaries.
Hamlet is a characteristic intellectual more inclined to lecture actors about their craft than listen to them, and is a precursor of Enlightenment figures like Diderot and Lessing. This book is a quest for the voice of early professional actors, drawing on English, French and other European sources to distinguish the methods of professionals from the theories of intellectual amateurs. David Wiles challenges the orthodoxy that all serious discussion of acting began with Stanislavski, and outlines the comprehensive but fluid classical system of acting which was for some three hundred years its predecessor. He reveals premodern acting as a branch of rhetoric, which took from antiquity a vocabulary for conversations about the relationship of mind and body, inside and outside, voice and movement. Wiles demonstrates that Roman rhetoric provided the bones of both a resilient theatrical system and a physical art that retains its relevance for the post-Stanislavskian performer.
Learning how to use a printed scholarly edition of a literary work does not come naturally to digital natives. Chapter 3 dramatises the learning curve of coming to grips with scholarly editions of Hamlet, of appreciating the argument that each one mounts about the surviving textual and other materials, and of learning how to appreciate the internal architecture and cross-referencing of editions without hyperlinks.
Different modes of scholarly editing are described, especially the competing methodologies and limits of the necessarily non-definitive Anglo-American critical edition. It professes to present a reading text of the work; the German historical-critical edition represents the work in a more archival fashion.
A case-study of recent attempts to solve the editorial problem of Hamlet is offered via an analysis of the Arden 3, Norton 3 and New Oxford’s editorial rationales. Their common abandonment of belief in bibliographic analysis is questioned. Confusion about the nature of the work-concept as applied to Shakespearean drama is revealed as held in common.
By the late 1980s the concept of the work had slipped out of sight, consigned to its last refuge in the library catalogue as concepts of discourse and text took its place. Scholarly editors, who depended on it, found no grounding in literary theory for their practice. But fundamental ideas do not go away, and the work is proving to be one of them. New interest in the activity of the reader in the work has broadened the concept, extending it historically and sweeping away its once-supposed aesthetic objecthood. Concurrently, the advent of digital scholarly editions is recasting the editorial endeavour. The Work and The Reader in Literary Studies tests its argument against a range of book-historically inflected case-studies from Hamlet editions to Romantic poetry archives to the writing practices of Joseph Conrad and D. H. Lawrence. It newly justifies the practice of close reading in the digital age.
I explore the ways in which O Jogo da Vida e da Morte and A Herança deploy locale – the favela and the sertão. I stress the extent to which the films find comparable metaphorical resonances in their respective habitats, highlighting, in so doing, a series of intricate relationships between land, property and poverty. I go on to suggest, in the second section of the chapter, that the films’ intersecting treatment of the communal, the spiritual and the racial is evidenced in their privileging of rituals and celebrations, such as the Claudius/Gertrude wedding or the Old Hamlet/Ophelia funerals. O Jogo da Vida e da Morte and A Herança, I argue, are preoccupied with communities that fail or are unable to provide for their own, thereby introducing images of Brazil that run counter to populist conceptions. As I maintain in the chapter’s final section, A Herança discovers Omeleto/Hamlet at his death as distributing the estate to the peasantry, thus marking a radical break with traditions of land ownership in the north-eastern regions. O Jogo da Vida e da Morte, in contrast, visits little capacity for change on João/Hamlet, stressing his distinctive powerlessness and inertia. While A Herança endorses the ideal of a socialist utopia, then, O Jogo da Vida e da Morte assumes a more nihilistic attitude. Responsive to the straitened political conditions of Brazil in the early 1970s, O Jogo da Vida e da Morte and A Herança reveal the capacity of Hamlet to be pulled in two directions at the same time, occupying recuperative and defeatist positions, to address similar sets of difficulties.
This chapter discusses Hamile: The Tongo ‘Hamlet’ (dir. Terry Bishop, 1965), from Ghana, with an all-black cast, and the Boyokani Company’s Hamlet (dir. Hugues Serge Limbvani, 2007), from the Republic of Congo, which, with the exception of one white actor, also deploys a black cast. Hamile and the Boyokani Hamlet are preoccupied with a thematics of place, whether this shows itself, in the former case, in the will to affirm the élan of a newly formed nation state or, in the latter case, in the ventilating of African-centred questions about woman and the supernatural. Developing such thematics, both films assert varieties of what has been termed ‘Africanity’, a repository of shared discourses, experiences and inheritances, and find that a British/European play can indeed be made to work in an African milieu.