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Paul Prescott concluded the last survey of Shakespeare productions outside London with mention of his favourite production of 2019, a Hamlet in Tórshavn in the Faroe Islands. His injunction to remember that there is ‘a world elsewhere’ feels ever more timely in a year that has seen the UK government neglecting (or forgetting) Northern Ireland as it negotiates trade deals, and whose devolved policies on COVID-19 restrictions have made border crossings within mainland Britain an unusually fraught process. In inheriting this column – with its remit to cover productions in England outside London – the question of borders that separate Theatr Clwyd from Liverpool Everyman (my two local theatres growing up) or Watford Palace from the Globe (at what point is one outside London?) feels part and parcel of an England that too often forgets it is not, in John of Gaunt’s words, ‘bound in with the triumphant sea’.
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.
Following a number of years which have seen major new Complete Works volumes or brand-new series of editions, 2018–19 was a quieter year for Shakespeare editions, with one new Arden, a rare Variorum, and a large number of second and third issues of pre-existing editions with minor updates. Collectively – and in concert with a number of excellent books aimed at newcomers to textual studies – they represent an effort to update and revise knowledge, with a focus on entry points into interpreting the Shakespearian text and understanding the afterlives of plays and poems.
Following two years that have featured major new Complete Works projects, 2017–18 has been something of a year of consolidation and diversification in the world of Shakespeare editing. The projects surveyed in this essay comprise primarily new introductions, revised editions and a new series reorienting the Arden Shakespeare at practitioners. The reframing of existing edited texts at new audiences has been accompanied by some thoughtful work reflecting on both the history and future of Shakespeare in print, making this a good year to reflect on how today’s texts are shaping future histories.
In the early twenty-first century, attribution specialists have with increasing frequency made claims for the part-authorship by Marlowe of the Henry VI trilogy, though with inattention to the relationship of those plays to The First Part of the Contention and The True Tragedy of Richard, Duke of York. This chapter separates the two sets of plays to consider afresh The Contention’s putative role in the formation of Marlowe’s nascent print presence. Debunking early prejudices that treated these plays as inferior versions of Shakespeare’s histories, this chapter argues for their participation, regardless of authorship, in an increasingly dominant ‘Marlovian’ paradigm. Focusing particularly on instances of performative typography and sequential stage direction within the 1594 quarto of The Contention, printed by Thomas Creede for Thomas Millington, this chapter argues that the play as published participates in the creation of readerly effects associated elsewhere with Marlowe’s early books.
Canonising Shakespeare offers the first comprehensive reassessment of Shakespeare's afterlife as a print phenomenon, demonstrating the crucial role that the book trade played in his rise to cultural pre-eminence. 1640–1740 was the period in which Shakespeare's canon was determined, in which the poems resumed their place alongside the plays in print, and in which artisans and named editors crafted a new, contemporary Shakespeare for Restoration and eighteenth-century consumers. A team of international contributors highlight the impact of individual booksellers, printers, publishers and editors on the Shakespearean text, the books in which it was presented, and the ways in which it was promoted. From radical adaptations of the Sonnets to new characters in plays, and from elegant subscription volumes to cheap editions churned out by feuding publishers, this period was marked by eclecticism, contradiction and innovation as stationers looked to the past and the future to create a Shakespeare for their own times.