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Even by the standards of Shakespearean comedy, As You Like It tests theatrical logic. Unlike other Shakespearean comedies, comic closure is not compromised by pain, punishment or death; nor does the play returns its characters and audiences to a 'real' world in which the fantastic may be put to the test. This book focuses on the performance of As You Like It in the twentieth century. It offers a summary of the prehistory that provides its background and context. The book examines the play as a text for performance on the early modern stage. It is examined not by conjecturally reconstructing a performance that may or may not have taken place, but by mining the script for clues as to how it might have been handled by its first players. It pays particular attention to three contrasting RSC productions: Michael Elliott's of 1961, which launched Vanessa Redgrave's legendary, epoch-defining Rosalind; Buzz Goodbody's of 1973, and Adrian Noble's of 1985. The book addresses two productions beyond the English (and English-speaking) theatre context. The first of these, seen at l'Atelier in Paris in 1934, is Jacques Copeau's redaction Rosalinde; the second Peter Stein's monumental four-hour production for the Schaubühne Berlin in 1977. It 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. The book draws substantially upon the first-hand audience experience of a recent production, Blanche McIntyre's for Shakespeare's Globe in 2015.

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Looking toward the future

In the preceding pages, I have used the name ‘Shakespeare’ as a convenient shorthand for the creative force behind the text of Titus Andronicus ; however, contemporary critical developments suggest that the term is, in fact, somewhat misleading. Post-Restoration editors, reacting to the play’s violent horrors and stylistic shortcomings tended to deny the existence of Shakespeare’s hand in the tragedy entirely. However, twentieth-century editors, while acknowledging the arguments against Shakespeare

in Titus Andronicus
Caesar at the millennium

The challenge for Julius Caesar in the twentieth century was the negotiation of the play’s politics once Welles had demonstrated the triumphs and perils of making explicit comparison with recent or contemporary events. From the Second World War onwards the oratory, heroism and spectacle of the nineteenth century were steadily replaced by more modernist notions of

in Julius Caesar
Romantic comedy

, for example as a ‘wise fool’ or self-conscious jester, who comments on, sees through, and punctures the follies of others, or as a ‘natural’ who is himself foolish (Bottom, Dogberrry, Costard). 11 The works of Frye and Barber in particular were very influential in academic approaches and college teaching in the mid twentieth century and they are often cited with approval in studies of

in Shakespeare’s cinema of love
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the twentieth century, in T. S. Eliot’s influential formulation, as ‘the way of life of a particular people living together in one place’, ‘the assemblage of its arts, customs, religious beliefs’. Moreover, according to Eliot, ‘these things all act upon each other and to fully understand one you have to understand all’. 1 Eliot’s formulation posits a symbiotic relationship between a

in Cultural value in twenty-first-century England
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non-Shakespeare plays of the period) before appearing, again, as self-independent editions. In 1959, Philip Edwards’s trailblazing edition finally reclaimed the play’s position in the history of early modern drama, thus securing its presence in the curriculum, and a renewed interest towards it and its author in the second half of the twentieth century. A number of independent editions followed (Cairncross in 1967, Mulryne in

in Doing Kyd

couplets), makes several substantive changes in the plot and motivation, adds some striking stage effects, eliminates much on-stage violence, buttresses the parts of Tamora and Aaron, and reconstitutes Shakespeare’s Act V, particularly the last scene. An account of some of these changes can provide a useful preview of comparable albeit less visible choices by twentieth-century directors. Gone completely from the 1687 Titus are: (1) 2.2 (the preparation for the hunt); (2) 3.2 (the fly-killing scene); (3) most of

in Titus Andronicus
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The texts of The Spanish Tragedy

-Shakespearian optional unit elsewhere. This was in the last years of the twentieth century when universities began to change the constituency of their students, the numbers on courses, their funding regimes (particularly for libraries); and it was when we heard the first rumblings of the idea of students as our ‘customers’. It was, of course, before the internet took hold, a phenomenon which has undoubtedly addressed

in Doing Kyd
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This strange, eventful history

on the performance of As You Like It in the twentieth century, what follows is a brief outline of the prehistory that provides its background and context. Entered in the Stationers’ Register in 1600 but not published until the First Folio of 1623, As You Like It left no trace of any performance in its own time, and although it was one of the plays acquired by Thomas Killigrew for the new

in As You Like It

lavishness against simplicity, commercial against art theatre, French David against German Goliath. Rosalinde marked the return to the Parisian stage of a figure who had been at the forefront of theatrical reform in the second decade of the twentieth century, who had directed two acclaimed Shakespeare productions, and whose teaching, training methods and practice would shape the future of twentieth-century

in As You Like It