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Chapter 3 represents a brief foray into the broad topic of nihilism in English Romanticism. It begins with a close reading of Lord Byron’s poem Manfred, which tells the story of a man who is tormented by knowledge and in a sense dies as a result of it. Manfred is a kind of Faustian figure zealous for learning. He pursues his occult studies alone in a tower in the Alps. Over time he attains powers of magic that allow him to evoke supernatural spirits. Manfred is haunted by a memory in the past that leaves him no rest. This is read as an autobiographical reference to Byron’s incestuous relations with his half-sister, Augusta Leigh, which resulted in such a scandal that he felt obliged to leave England forever. Manfred seeks in vain for help from the different spirits of nature, who are unable to oblige him in his request to make him forget his past completely. Manfred heroically rejects that even the most powerful spirit can stand in the way of his freedom, and he insists on dying on his own terms. The chapter concludes with a brief analysis of Shelley’s famous poem “Ozymandias,” which is read as a call for self-reflection on the fleetingness of our existence and all human accomplishment.
Chapter 2 gives a reading of the obscure work The Nightwatches by the dramatist August Klingemann. The protagonist Kreuzgang is an odd outsider, highly critical of society around him. He is a night watchman, who goes out each night and observes people in their ordinary lives. Kreuzgang begins with some semblance of normalcy but then becomes increasingly disenchanted with the world until he finally fully embraces nihilism. Klingemann presents a mishmash of carefully framed scenes of horror and despair. It is a gallery of personalities with strange images and stories. People are portrayed as vain, pretentious, cruel, and hypocritical. The work raises the question of whether we, as human beings, are really anything beyond the social masks that we wear. Theater metaphors are often used to emphasize the idea there is nothing substantial in human life, but we are all playing meaningless roles, and then we die. Kreuzgang’s description of his fellow inmates in the insane asylum reveals an inverted world where what is usually accepted as reasonable by mainstream society is in fact irrational, and vice versa. The mad are the sane in an insane world.
Over the past decade, attribution scholars have come to a consensus that Shakespeare wrote some of the additions printed in the 1602 quarto of Kyd's Spanish Tragedy. This new development in textual studies has far-reaching consequences for established theatre-historical narratives. Accounting for Shakespeare's involvement in The Spanish Tragedy requires us to rethink the history of two major theatre companies, the Admiral's and the Chamberlain's Men, and to reread much of the documentary record of late Elizabethan theatre. Modelling what a theatre-historical response to new attributionist arguments might look like, the author offers an in-depth reinterpretation of Philip Henslowe's records of new plays, develops a novel account of how theatre companies copied and adapted plays in one another's repertories (including a reconsideration of the 'Ur-Hamlet' and the two Shrew plays), and reconstructs an early modern cluster of Hieronimo plays that also allows us to reimagine Ben Jonson's career as an actor.
In 1778 Edmond Malone published his first contribution to Shakespeare scholarship, An Attempt to Ascertain the Order in which the Plays Attributed to Shakspeare were Written. He revised and republished it in 1790 and began a further revision of it which was printed posthumously in 1821. This Element will be on the three versions of Malone's Attempt and the way they created, shaped, focused, directed, and misdirected, our idea of the chronology and sequence of Shakespeare's plays. By showing Malone's impressive, fallible choices, adopted or adapted by later editors, it reveals how current Shakespeare editions are, in good and bad ways, Malonian at heart.
This chapter describes a collaboration between its authors – a professor and an undergraduate (post-secondary) student – to develop an education programme for Play the Knave, a mixed-reality digital Shakespeare game. As part of an effort to bring the game to local elementary and secondary school English classrooms, the authors co-ran an internship programme at our university, where the game was created. Interns, most of whom were English majors interested in education, learned to create and then teach lesson plans for Play the Knave, subsequently researching the game’s impact on learning. Our chapter discusses the challenges of collaborating in a university environment, comparing these to the challenges players experience when interacting with avatars in Play the Knave. Like Knave’s players, participants in our programme faced difficulties connecting with other participants, including ourselves and local teachers. We maintain that flawed connection – which players of digital games describe as ‘glitchiness’ – need not undermine effective collaboration but can actually enhance it, as participants are pushed to adapt constantly to shifting circumstances. In contrast to theories of artistic collaboration that prioritize participants achieving a state of ‘flow’, we argue that, in fact, collaborations can be most successful when marked by fits and starts, lags and the imperfect connections endemic to living in a digital world.
In 2016, France celebrated Shakespeare in the aftermath of devastating terrorist attacks which questioned the very notion of citizenship. In this context, the Institute for research on the Renaissance, the Neo-Classical Era and the Enlightenment (IRCL), together with the Printemps des comédiens, the second biggest theatre festival in France in terms of attendance and international visibility, launched an innovative and experimental educational project on Shakespeare and citizenship, involving five secondary schools with different social profiles in Montpellier. Throughout the year, six classes of students aged 14 to 15 worked on a Shakespeare play with their English, French and Civic Education teachers, researchers from the IRCL, actors and the staff of the festival, to put on their own school festival. Its preparation is as important as the result, since it allows the partners to address the three main values attached to the notion of citizenship: civility, civic rights and duties, and solidarity.
To meet these objectives, the IRCL, the festival and the schools progressively opened the collaborative project to other partners, and now have to find common ground between scientific, artistic, educational and socio-political logics. Shakespeare is the nexus between the various institutions working together on a project that reaches far beyond its initial educational purpose to confront and question methods, practices and policies, suggesting new, cross-bordering paths to explore collaboratively – all this in the jovial atmosphere of the Montpellier festival.
Anna Muza surveys the theatrical traditions that Chekhov inherited at the end of the nineteenth century. Muza examines the influence of the “old forms” on Chekhov: the works of Shakespeare and Molière, of such nineteenth-century Russian playwrights as Griboyedov and Ostrovsky – and possibly most important of all – the lower-end fare that Chekhov enjoyed as a young reviewer, the vaudeville and farcical devices that he eventually raised to the level of high art.
By attending to a common theatrical convention – the representation of both dead and apparently dead bodies by actors – Chapter 1 offers a new history of early modern English tragicomedy. In all theatrical performance, the actor’s body is semiotically volatile, for its liveliness can never be entirely circumscribed by the onstage fiction. This chapter demonstrates that the early modern theater frequently exacerbated that necessary instability by requiring its actors to feign death. Tracking instances of apparent death from the late 1580s through the opening of the seventeenth century, the chapter shows that theater practitioners increasingly invited their spectators to apprehend the ambiguity of the lively stage corpse, entwining them in uncertainty by offering them less and less interpretive guidance about the actor’s inevitable signs of life. Audiences gradually came to expect that they could not know the fictional status of apparent corpses. The conventions that eventually coalesced around stage corpses enabled the rise of English tragicomedy, the hybrid genre that allowed for seemingly dead bodies to resurrect themselves without warning.
The introduction sets out the two key techniques by which the early modern theater entwined its spectators in uncertainty, ultimately offering a new model of this theater’s process of performance – one that encouraged its spectators’ imaginative participation by, paradoxically, frustrating it. The practitioners of this highly experimental theater regularly drew attention to the technologies of stagecraft, inviting spectators’ uncertainty about the stage’s fictional representations by calling attention to them as performances. The introduction also pushes back against the established account of a Jacobean and Caroline theater that catered to the increasingly sophisticated theatrical acuity of its spectators, arguing that practitioners’ eagerness to exploit familiar conventions into the seventeenth century regularly upended even knowing playgoers’ dramatic expectations. Finally, the introduction argues that these moments of interpretive unsettling should be considered a fundamental, even primary, element of the early modern theatrical experience.
Lauren Robertson's original study shows that the theater of Shakespeare and his contemporaries responded to the crises of knowledge that roiled through early modern England by rendering them spectacular. Revealing the radical, exciting instability of the early modern theater's representational practices, Robertson uncovers the uncertainty that went to the heart of playgoing experience in this period. Doubt was not merely the purview of Hamlet and other onstage characters, but was in fact constitutive of spectators' imaginative participation in performance. Within a culture in the midst of extreme epistemological upheaval, the commercial theater licensed spectators' suspension among opposed possibilities, transforming dubiety itself into exuberantly enjoyable, spectacular show. Robertson shows that the playhouse was a site for the entertainment of uncertainty in a double sense: its pleasures made the very trial of unknowing possible.
The veteran classical actor Louis Butelli played Duncan in the 2018 production of Davenant’s Macbeth at the Folger Theatre, a collaboration between the Folger Shakespeare Library and the research project ‘Performing Restoration Shakespeare’. In this interview with Richard Schoch, Butelli explores the challenges that Restoration Shakespeare presents to a contemporary actor, including unfamiliarity, bias toward Shakespeare’s original versions, heightened language and the interpolation of music. Drawing on his own research into Restoration theatre, Butelli also reflects on his experience of collaborating with a team of scholar in the production of Davenant’s Macbeth. In contrast to the chapter by actor Kate Eastwood Norris, this chapter investigates how actors can learn from documentary sources about Restoration theatre (e.g., Colley Cibber’s Apology) to enhance their own work today.
Apart from its singing and dancing witches, Davenant’s adaptation of Macbeth is most famous for expanding the role of Lady Macduff. Augmenting the mere nineteen lines afforded the character in Shakespeare’s text, Davenant significantly enlarges and complicates the role, giving Lady Macduff an additional four scenes, in which she demonstrates agency in both familial and political matters. This chapter puts Shakespeare’s and Davenant’s Lady Macduffs into conversation, exploring the opportunities and challenges presented by both versions of the role in performance. Combining theatre history, textual analysis, and practice-as-research methodologies, I begin by surveying the depiction of Lady Macduff in twenty-first century stagings of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. I argue that concepts of the feminine, the victim, and the mother define the interpretation of Lady Macduff in performance. I then contrast Shakespeare’s depiction of the character with that of Davenant, drawing on Anne Greenfield’s argument to consider how Davenant’s Lady Macduff might be considered a ‘subversive tragic heroine’. Developing this idea through practical exploration of Davenant’s Lady Macduff in performance, this chapter concludes by considering what practitioners today can learn from Davenant’s adaptation.
This chapter considers the role of Shakespearean theater in fostering the cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, temperance, and courage. Shakespeare offers an especially compelling site for investigating this topic in act 3.2 of Julius Caesar. Here, Mark Antony addresses the plebeians in the wake of Caesar’s assassination using the latter’s bloody mantle (i.e. cloak) as an object lesson in civic and moral failure. This scene, the chapter argues, has something important to teach us about the theatricality of the cardinal virtues, including, especially, the object-specific way in which particular things enable general moral insights. As this suggests, the cardinal virtues do not so much offer scripts for the cultivation of inner qualities as they do a community-oriented set of practices grounded in the capacity of humans to think, feel, and discern together. Put another way, the cardinal virtues are a social logic or dynamic, rather than personality traits or individual moral attributes. Like theater itself, they provide a linked set of frameworks for physical, emotional, and ethical participation in the world.
Aristotle’s sense of the movement out of dynamis (potential, capacity) and into energia (actuality) was itself ethically neutral, designed to account for a wide range of types of becoming. Yet it also provided a way of conceptualizing the translation of interior states of being into embodied action. Aristotle’s dynamis-energia continuum, along with his taxonomy of voluntary and involuntary behavior, provided the foundational ethical terms by which early moderns negotiated legal cases, theological disputes, and, just as crucially, the regular dilemmas presented by daily social life. Within this context, the Shakespearean stage became a signal space for working out the era’s complicated ways of understanding the move from dynamis to energia as it pertains to intentional ethical action. This chapter focuses on Julius Caesar and Richard II, two plays that take as their central concern the uncertain intentions of potentially rogue agents and the fashioning of multiple forms of community that occurs in response to such ambiguous interior states. By attending closely to the shifts from dynamis to energia within communities as well as individuals – and to variant resonances of these concepts largely lost to modern audiences – Shakespearean drama freshly reimagines classical ethical ideals as a means for fostering communal tranquility within post-Reformation English culture.
The popularity of music in Restoration Shakespeare can be explained in part by the hitherto unacknowledged circulation of Shakespeare’s songs in print and manuscript during the Interregnum. It has often been assumed that the closure of the public theatres between 1642 and 1660 and the suppression of polyphonic church music caused seventeenth-century England to lag behind Europe musically. The Interregnum has therefore been side-lined by music and theatre historians in favour of the Restoration and its stimulating theatrical revival. While the cultural restrictions of the Civil War and Commonwealth inevitably impeded new theatrical works, a survey of the literature produced during the Interregnum conﬁrms a continued interest in drama and dramatic song. The songs from Shakespeare’s original plays reached an all-time peak in their appearance in print during the mid-seventeenth century. The Wits, or, Sport upon sport reveals that during the closure of the theatres, excerpts from pre-war plays were performed privately. The diaries of Evelyn and Pepys indicate that recreational and domestic music-making ﬂourished, and the distinction between professional and amateur musicians developed a ﬂuidity that would persist into the Restoration. The irrepressible enthusiasm for dramatic songs fuelled the phenomenon that would come to be known as Restoration Shakespeare.
In 1922, a year that saw the publication of landmark works such as James Joyce’s Ulysses, Virginia Woolf’s Jacob’s Room and T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, the sixth-form student Samuel Beckett read plays by William Shakespeare. His copies of editions of Shakespeare’s plays like the one of Macbeth1 contain many underlined or marked passages, but the reading trace very often found in their margins is: ‘Learn by heart’.2
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.
This chapter traces the dual legacy of Christian asceticism as an art of living with distinct but related rules for virtue in monastic and married life. The forms of ascetic virtue cultivated in the early Church have a significant afterlife in sixteenth century fiction and drama, exemplified in Thomas More’s Utopia (1516) and Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale (1610). In Utopia, married couples are essential citizens of an ascetic commonwealth, but also potentially at odds with its communal quasi-monastic virtues. The Winter’s Tale reveals a fault line in marriage as an ascetic mode of life: the tension between marriage as a legal code and marriage as a sacrament and relationship of fidelity can only be resolved by turning to the more radical asceticism of penance. These works demonstrate how ascetic practices mediate between self and society; they reflect on ways to cultivate a virtuous life that extend beyond the household or the cloister to the wider world of public and political action.
This chapter situates William Davenant’s adaptation of Macbeth (1664) within the broader context of his own playmaking career. It traces the connections and discrepancies between Macbeth and the heroic operas and plays Davenant himself wrote and produced during the 1650s and 1660s, and which he theorised in A Proposition for Advancement of Moralitie (1653). Employing literary and performance modes of analysis, it demonstrates how the dramaturgical alterations he made to the play align it with a distinctive Davenantian mode: just like The Siege of Rhodes – recognised by John Dryden as the first extant heroic play in English – Macbeth centres on two opposing married couples; it meditates on how best to reconcile uxorious love with public duty and personal honour; and it puts creative energy into music and spectacle to produce powerful theatrical effects. Previous scholarship has condemned Davenant as a feeble-minded adapter, who rewrote Shakespeare to eliminate the perceived infelicities that would likely offend a discerning Restoration audience: antiquated diction, cumbersome syntax, psychological inconsistency. This chapter instead contends that we have failed to meet Davenant’s text on its own terms, as an example of the heroic genre that dominated the stage during the opening decade of the Restoration.