Post-Restoration editors, reacting to the Titus Andronicus violent horrors and stylistic shortcomings tended to deny the existence of William Shakespeare's hand in the tragedy entirely. Towards the end of the twentieth-century, scholarly editions of the play began to account for some of the play's inadequacies by positing various strata of alterations. In contrast to late twentieth-century editors who blamed Shakespeare for sloppy revision of his own work, Brian Boyd exculpated Shakespeare by holding George Peele solely responsible for the irregularity created by his unsanctioned change of plan. Centuries of debate over the play's authorship culminated in the publication of Brian Vickers's Shakespeare, Co-Author, which sought to establish a new scholarly consensus about Shakespeare's collaboration with Peele in the tragedy's composition. The co-authorship studies of Vickers and Boyd may encourage directors to reconsider radically their assumptions about the text of Titus Andronicus and how it can be staged.
Peter Stein's Titus Andronicus production grew out of the 'Shakespeare Project', a series of seminars with students at the University of Rome's Teatro Ateneo, which featured exercises using the original text of the play. The longest-running major production in the stage history of Titus Andronicus, directed by Silviu Purcarete, originated at the National Theatre of Craiova. Like Stein, Purcarete also seized upon Titus's description of Rome as a 'wilderness of tigers' as the basis for his production's soundtrack, which 'consisted of disturbing, howling music intermixed with the predatory growls of tigers'. Of all the directors who attempted Titus in the decade following the Royal Shakespeare Company's (RSC) landmark 1987 production, Purcarete most closely resembled Deborah Warner in his attitude toward the play's black comedy. Moreover, in contrast to Warner's full-text rendition, Purcarete 'ruthlessly cut' the original play to suit his political agenda.
Antony Sher and his partner and collaborator, director Gregory Doran agreed to conduct a workshop exchange with the Market Theatre of Johannesburg which eventually grew into a multi-ethnic and multinational production of Titus Andronicus. Doran's liberties with the text provoked little backlash in the press compared to his decision to have his actors speak in various South African accents. Some critics derided the Market Theatre production for its presentation of Tamora disguised as Revenge. South Africans are no strangers to real-life violence, and according to members of the Market Theatre cast such as Charlton George (Chiron), they often use 'humour to deal with the horror'. To the extent that Doran and Sher set in motion a lively discussion about art, violence, and race relations in contemporary South Africa, their production was a significant achievement.
Emulating a more distant predecessor, Jeannette Lambermont and Daniel Mesguich modelled their productions on the stylised efforts of Peter Brook, while Michael Maggio cautiously imitated the realistic presentation of Jane Howell's BBC-TV version. Brook's most memorable choice in his stylisation of the violent action in Titus Andronicus was to employ scarlet ribbons in place of blood, a technique he adapted from Asian theatre. Gerald Freedman's New York Shakespeare Festival production borrowed the same strategy and made the Asian connection explicit by using costumes that '"recreated an unknown people of a non-specific time" with elements of "Roman-Byzantine and feudal Japanese"'. Director Jeannette Lambermont, in her Stratford, Ontario production, pursued a similar strategy by mixing ancient Roman design with colourful and ritualistic aspects of Eastern theatre. Lambermont's production employed several features borrowed from traditional Japanese theatrical forms.
This chapter is devoted to productions appearing in the first decade since the publication of Alan C. Dessen's volume, excluding Julie Taymor's stage production. It concerns Taymor's dramatic work at Theatre for a New Audience, as well as the film deriving from that theatrical event. The chapter describes the lines of descent that incline toward Taymor's version of the play. It then takes up performances occurring since the cinematic release of Titus Andronicus, many of which exhibit the pervasive influence of that film. The chapter follows Dessen's precedent in examining recent productions by way of their solutions to the various 'problems' presented by Titus Andronicus. It also focuses on the cultural and historical circumstances surrounding each production that helped to shape the specific meaning generated through the collaboration of contemporary theatre professionals with William Shakespeare through his text.