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10 - Staging Shakespeare’s Wars in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 August 2021

David Loewenstein
Affiliation:
Pennsylvania State University, University Park
Paul Stevens
Affiliation:
University of Toronto
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Summary

This chapter analyzes traditions of staging the plays from the beginning of the twentieth century, spanning a period from the Boer Wars until the postcolonial wars of the present. It considers not only ways of depicting fighting and battles, but also perspectives on the morality of war created by Shakespeare and his directors. During this period, post-Victorian pictorial realism and historical “accuracy” survived in cinema, but in the theater they gave way to non-illusionistic and unlocalized sets as companies turned their attention from “history” to politics. This did not mean that spectacle diminished: shocking savagery and violence could be graphically represented, but pageants of royal and aristocratic grandeur along with appeals to patriotism sustained by providence were set against vignettes of common life – no longer “comic relief” but ironic touchstones that detected processes of chauvinism, huffing rhetoric, and heroic posturing as families, factions, and nations tore themselves apart.

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Chapter
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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References

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