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The Introduction explains the volume’s scope, material to be investigated, research questions to be pursued and methods to be deployed. Additionally, it situates the book within current scholarship on Shakespeare in performance, theatre history and historical musicology. In doing so, it underlines the volume’s distinctiveness in (i) topic: the first edited collection devoted to Restoration Shakespeare in performance (ii) interdisciplinary methods: the volume integrates archival and practice-led research, embracing Shakespeare studies, theatre history and historical musicology (iii) contributors: chapters are written not just by scholars but also by leading practitioners in music and theatre. We also emphasise how the volume serves as the main publication record for the insights developed during our AHRC-funded project ‘Performing Restoration Shakespeare’ (2017-2020).
Performing Restoration Shakespeare embraces the performative and musical qualities of Restoration Shakespeare (1660–1714), drawing on the expertise of theatre historians, musicologists, literary critics, and - importantly - theatre and music practitioners. The volume advances methodological debates in theatre studies and musicology by advocating an alternative to performance practices aimed at reviving 'original' styles or conventions, adopting a dialectical process that situates past performances within their historical and aesthetic contexts, and then using that understanding to transform them into new performances for new audiences. By deploying these methodologies, the volume invites scholars from different disciplines to understand Restoration Shakespeare on its own terms, discarding inhibiting preconceptions that Restoration Shakespeare debased Shakespeare's precursor texts. It also equips scholars and practitioners in theatre and music with new - and much needed - methods for studying and reviving past performances of any kind, not just Shakespearean ones.