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Reconstructing Shakespeare, or Harlotry in Bardolatry

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 March 2007

Stanley Wells
Affiliation:
University of Birmingham
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Summary

Looking around for a suitable sub-title for this paper I asked a professor of my acquaintance if he could suggest anything and, given the nature of my own Shakespearian rewrites, he said: 'How about 'Tis Pity I'm a Whore?' I took the liberty of slightly revising that suggestion into the present sub-title. And I don't really think anyone can deny the fact that a good deal of 'harlotry' has insinuated itself into bardolatry. When you have a large, multi-national corporation such as the Shakespeare Industry, it goes without saying that it attracts people of easy virtue, and that's a subject I'll touch on in a moment or two.

As to my credentials, or my lack of them, I have to say that I speak as a professional director - not at all as a scholar or a pedagogue.

A director's relationship to Shakespearian scholarship (Granville-Barker notwithstanding) is very different from an academic's. For the academic, theories, suppositions, and speculations are ends in themselves, and a really solid piece of Shakespearian criticism need only be well argued and well written to join the voluminous tomes of its predecessors. But a director is looking for what in the theatre are called 'playable values' - that is, ideas capable of being translated into concrete dramatic terms.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1988

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