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Michael D. Friedman and Alan Dessen

During the years immediately following Deborah Warner’s acclaimed 1987 RSC production, succeeding directors of Titus Andronicus declined to follow her example of playing an uncut script and making the most of the text’s opportunities for dark comedy. Three of the four 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 that Warner had welcomed. Emulating a more distant

in Titus Andronicus
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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 It begins with Edward Ravenscroft's version that superseded Shakespeare's script.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.

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Michael D. Friedman and Alan Dessen

that Brook gained his distinctive effects, which influenced succeeding performances, by making two key decisions: to cut the script heavily and to stylise the play’s violence within a ritualistic framework (see p. 25 ). I would add that this stylisation drew upon techniques from Asian theatre, which reappear as Japanese elements in two of the three productions stemming from Brook’s example: Jeannette Lambermont’s 1989 Stratford, Ontario version, Daniel Mesguich’s production at the Theatre de l’Athénée in the same year

in Titus Andronicus
Michael D. Friedman and Alan Dessen

and others convinced reviewer Nicholas de Jongh that the key to Ninagawa’s concept for the production was ‘Shakespeare’s evocation of Rome as “a wilderness of tigers”’ (Yukio, 34). Like Jeannette Lambermont at Stratford, Ontario, Ninagawa adapted Brook’s formalised approach by incorporating various Asian stage elements ‘derived from the great Japanese theatre styles of Noh, Bunraku and Kabuki’ (Carnegy, 59). Yet while the Canadian company merely appropriated the trappings of Asian theatre to dress up a method

in Titus Andronicus