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This book writes a performance history of Antony and Cleopatra from 1606 to 2018. After considering the particular challenges Shakespeare’s script offers any actors, directors or designers who stage it, the book looks in detail at Antony and Cleopatra on the Jacobean stage and then at Dryden’s All for Love (the play that replaced Shakespeare’s from the Restoration to 1849). Fast-forwarding across a number of Victorian adaptations and early twentieth century English productions, it arrives at 1953, when, directed by Glen Byam Shaw at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre with Peggy Ashcroft as Cleopatra and Michael Redgrave as Antony, the play’s modern performance history begins. Thereafter, chapters offer in-depth analyses of fifteen productions by (among others) the Royal Shakespeare Company, Citizens’ Theatre Glasgow, Northern Broadsides, Berliner Ensemble and Toneelgroep Amsterdam in five countries and three languages. Combining close readings of theatre records – promptbooks, stage managers’ reports, costume bibles, reviews – with deep historical contextualisation, it sees how, and what, this play has meant each time it has brought its thoughts on power, race, masculinity, regime change, exoticism, love, dotage and delinquency into alignment with a new present. It ends seeing Shakespeare’s black Cleopatra restored to the English stage. Tragedy, comedy, history, farce: this book demonstrates that in performance Antony and Cleopatra is all four.

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Gwilym Jones

. Pericles , too, is a divided play, and in Chapter 8 , I show that its ‘lasting storm’ is a performance aesthetic that bridges the divisions and allows us to think more carefully about them. This, then, is a book that uses the discourses of performance history and ecocritisim to argue that Shakespeare’s storms have so far been misread or ignored. The storms represent changing theatrical and technical

in Shakespeare’s storms
Nicholas Johnson

suggests that Play structurally invited adaptation, pushed at technological limitations, and challenged the boundaries of theatre. In the first wave of its performance history, lasting approximately from composition to the end of Beckett's life, Play also tended to reveal salient features of the medium in which it was presented, whether it appeared in a theatre or made the transition into recorded or broadcast media. Revolutionary changes in media technologies, underway at the time of Play 's composition but pervasive since

in Beckett and media
Abstract only

To look at the performance history of Titus Andronicus is to confront some provocative questions such as why has this play posed severe problems for generations of readers, critics, editors, actors, directors, and playgoers. The book examines twelve major theatrical productions and one film, on the play, that appeared in the years 1989-2009. It begins with Edward Ravenscroft's version that superseded Shakespeare's script. Peter Brook chose to stylise or formalise many moments, and Deborah Warner's production worked with no cutting of the script. Every staging of Titus elicits comments about the daunting nature of the script. The book presents Irving Wardle's reactions on Trevor Nunn's 1972 rendition, and Stanley Wells's review of the Swan production. The densest concentration of such problems and anomalies, as perceived by today's directors, critics, and editors, comes in the final scene. The productions that opened in 1989, directed by Jeannette Lambermont, Daniel Mesguich, and Michael Maggio, cut and rearranged the text liberally, often in an attempt to avoid the laughter. During the period 1989-99, three major European directors, Peter Stein, Silviu Purcarete, and Gregory Doran, focused their attention on the ways in which the play can be made to comment on specific contemporary affairs. Julie Taymor's venture in 1994 combined stylization with the 'visceral reality' as a means to keep spectators off balance and continuously sensitive to the shocking brutality of the play's events. The book ends by discussing the efforts of Yukio Ninagaw, Bill Alexander, Gale Edwards, Richard Rose, and Lucy Bailey.

Robert Shaughnessy

This chapter focuses on two all-male versions of the play: Clifford Williams's for the National Theatre in 1967, and Declan Donnellan's for Cheek by Jowl in 1991 and 1994. If it goes without saying that As You Like It has, throughout its performance history, been implicated in questions of sexual and gender identity. These productions particularly foreground issues of transvestite masquerade and same-sex desire that the tradition of female Rosalinds has largely occluded. Reflecting on the production two decades after it was made, director Declan Donnellan recalled its historic and political context. For Donnellan, the central point was to invite the audience 'to tread a tightrope of willed belief, a quintessentially theatrical act of faith'. Inverting Brechtian logic, the director stated that [e]xposing the nuts and bolts of theatre actually makes you more involved in the play.

in As You Like It
Janice Norwood

This chapter illustrates various routes into the dramatic profession in the Victorian period and analyses the potential advantages of different means of learning acting and stagecraft through examination of the early performance history of selected actresses. Some commenced work as child performers while others began as adults after receiving private tuition from a professional, performing on the amateur stage or giving dramatic readings. Discussion of the strategy of gaining experience in provincial or minor London theatres before risking appearing on the more prestigious West End stages reveals multiple benefits in terms of skill enhancement and press and audience response. The examples are used to argue for the importance of British provincial theatres, not only as training grounds for performers but also as instrumental to the economic health and stability of both the actress and the theatrical industry.

in Victorian touring actresses
Crossing boundaries and negotiating the cultural landscape
Author: Janice Norwood

Victorian touring actresses: Crossing boundaries and negotiating the cultural landscape provides a new perspective on the on- and offstage lives of women working in nineteenth-century theatre, and affirms the central role of touring, both within the United Kingdom and in North America and Australasia. Drawing on extensive archival research, it features a cross-section of neglected performers whose dramatic specialisms range from tragedy to burlesque. Although they were employed as stars in their own time, their contribution to the industry has largely been forgotten. The book’s innovative organisation follows a natural lifecycle, enabling a detailed examination of the practical challenges and opportunities typically encountered by the actress at each stage of her working life. Individual experiences are scrutinised to highlight the career implications of strategies adopted to cope with the demands of the profession, the physical potential of the actress’s body, and the operation of gendered power on and offstage. Analysis is situated in a wide contextual framework and reveals how reception and success depended on the performer’s response to the changing political, economic, social and cultural landscape as well as to developments in professional practice and organisation. The book concludes with discussion of the legacies of the performers, linking their experiences to the present-day situation.

Author: Laura Varnam

The church as sacred space places the reader at the heart of medieval religious life, standing inside the church with the medieval laity in order to ask what the church meant to them and why. It examines the church as a building, idea, and community, and explores the ways in which the sanctity of the church was crucial to its place at the centre of lay devotion and parish life. At a time when the parish church was facing competition for lay attention, and dissenting movements such as Lollardy were challenging the relevance of the material church, the book examines what was at stake in discussions of sanctity and its manifestations. Exploring a range of Middle English literature alongside liturgy, architecture, and material culture, the book explores the ways in which the sanctity of the church was constructed and maintained for the edification of the laity. Drawing on a wide range of contemporary theoretical approaches, the book offers a reading of the church as continually produced and negotiated by the rituals, performances, and practices of its lay communities, who were constantly being asked to attend to its material form, visual decorations, and significance. The meaning of the church was a dominant question in late-medieval religious culture and this book provides an invaluable context for students and academics working on lay religious experience and canonical Middle English texts.

Open Access (free)
Theatre and the politics of engagement
Author: Simon Parry

This book is about science in theatre and performance. It explores how theatre and performance engage with emerging scientific themes from artificial intelligence to genetics and climate change. The book covers a wide range of performance forms from the spectacle of the Paralympics Opening Ceremony to Broadway musicals, from experimental contemporary performance and opera to educational theatre, Somali poetic drama and grime videos. It features work by pioneering companies including Gob Squad, Headlong Theatre and Theatre of Debate as well as offering fresh analysis of global blockbusters such as Wicked and Urinetown. The book offers detailed description and analysis of theatre and performance practices as well as broader commentary on the politics of theatre as public engagement with science. It documents important examples of collaborative practice with extended discussion of the Theatre of Debate process developed by Y Touring theatre company, exploration of bilingual theatre-making in East London and an account of how grime MCs and dermatologists ended up making a film together in Birmingham. The interdisciplinary approach draws on contemporary research in theatre and performance studies in combination with key ideas from science studies. It shows how theatre can offer important perspectives on what the philosopher of science Isabelle Stengers has called ‘cosmopolitics’. The book argues that theatre can flatten knowledge hierarchies and hold together different ways of knowing.

Rethinking verbatim dramaturgies

Responding to the resurgence of verbatim theatre that emerged in Britain, Australia, the United States and other parts of the world in the early 1990s, this book offers one of the first sustained, critical engagements with contemporary verbatim, documentary and testimonial dramaturgies. Offering a new reading of the history of the documentary and verbatim theatre form, the book relocates verbatim and testimonial theatre away from discourses of the real and representations of reality and instead argues that these dramaturgical approaches are better understood as engagements with forms of truth-telling and witnessing. Examining a range of verbatim and testimonial plays from different parts of the world, the book develops new ways of understanding the performance of testimony and considers how dramaturgical theatre can bear witness to real events and individual and communal injustice through the re-enactment of personal testimony. Through its interrogation of different dramaturgical engagements with acts of witnessing, the book identifies certain forms of testimonial theatre that move beyond psychoanalytical accounts of trauma and reimagine testimony and witnessing as part of a decolonised project that looks beyond event-based trauma, addressing instead the experience of suffering wrought by racism and other forms of social injustice.