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Essays on theatre, imagery, books and selves in early modern England>
Author: Stephen Orgel

This book focuses on performance construed in the largest sense, as the deployment of a personal style, as imagery of various kinds, and even as books, which in the early modern era often include strongly performative elements. The chapters in the book fall logically into four groups: on personal style and the construction of the self, on drama, on books, and on the visual arts. Personal style is performative in the simple sense that it is expressive and in the more complex sense that it thereby implies that there is something to express. The book takes a broad view of the question of performance through disguise. Disguises in Elizabethan drama are nearly always presumed to be impenetrable, effectively concealing the self, whereas costume is designed to adorn the self, to make the self more strikingly recognizable. The book considers the changing effects of disguise and costume both on concepts of the self and on assumptions about the kind of reality represented by theater. As a practice that makes performance visible as such, theater is characterized by an ongoing reflection on the very norms that make dramatic performance legible and indeed possible. Images are never more performative in and for a culture than when they offer a view onto the differences through which culture is made.

Open Access (free)
White male vulnerability as heterosexual fantasy
Susanna Paasonen

 133 8 SPECTACULARLY WOUNDED White male vulnerability as heterosexual fantasy Susa nna Paa sonen I n a 2012 interview, E. L. James, the author of the massively popular Fifty Shades novel series, describes its male protagonist Christian Grey as ‘the ultimate fantasy guy. And that’s the point: As long as you accept that fantasy guy –​fantasy sex, fantasy lifestyle, a broken man who needs fixing through love –​what woman could resist that?’ (in Thomas, 2012.) Grey is a twenty-​seven-​year-​old, white, cis-​gendered, Seattle-​based multi-​billionaire businessman

in The power of vulnerability
Julius Caesar
Gwilym Jones

the spectacular, in which the storm itself plays a major part. The first part of this chapter will be concerned with questions about the staging of the storm, exploring the opening of the Globe, the legacy of theatrical storm effects and the evidence for their use in the original production of 1599. This section will address the considerable question, ‘why is Shakespeare’s first staged storm in this

in Shakespeare’s storms
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Stephen Orgel

in the repertoire for several seasons. The drawing reproduced here is an early sketch of the costume for Up, revealed as the Sun, a spectacular performance in itself.

in Spectacular Performances
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Stephen Orgel

intense attractions of magic in early modern society is probably as the ultimate image of the servant class under complete control. This is certainly what magic is for Prospero in The Tempest : the storms and apparitions and spectacular transformations through which Shakespeare’s magician brings his designs to fruition are, properly speaking, the work of Ariel, acting on his master

in Spectacular Performances
Stephen Orgel

anachronistic standard, and this is why the ending seems right to us. For us, Lear starts out with a spectacular display of bad judgment, and it’s all downhill from there. Notice, however, that though it’s Kent who initially objects to Lear’s bad judgment, only the villains believe that it renders him unfit to rule. In fact, elsewhere he’s referred to in the play not as blind, foolish

in Spectacular Performances
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Stephen Orgel

name, and an ideal, for every teenage hustler across two millennia − fearful, surely, precisely because of the spectacular success of the homoerotic escapade, because this boy is not raped and discarded, or immolated, or translated into a beast like Jove’s women, or turned into an ominous natural monument to Apollo’s lust, like the hyacinth or cypress or laurel, but ravished

in Spectacular Performances
Stephen Orgel

moralize the spectacular transformation he introduces a classic figure of heroic virtue, Perseus. But Perseus as Jonson presents him is not simply heroic virtue, and he does more than elucidate the antithesis of witches and queens. He greatly complicates it as well. He represents, Jonson says, “a brave and masculine virtue,” 17 and in the very moment of transition he

in Spectacular Performances
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Stephen Orgel

This chapter alludes to William Lambarde's well-known account of his interview with Queen Elizabeth in August, 1601, seven months after the Essex rebellion and Essex's execution for treason. Lambarde was the royal archivist, and had brought Elizabeth a summary of the historical documents stored in the Tower of London. The chapter focuses on Elizabeth's portrait of Richard II. In comparison with the individualized and assertive Holbein and Hornebolte portraits of her father, or the domesticated portraits of her sister by Antonio Mor, the painting is strikingly iconic. It employs a pictorial formula used occasionally on royal documents, but it is most strikingly similar to the Westminster portrait of Richard II. The painting iconographically abolishes a century and a half of both English history and royal iconography, and returns us to the last moment when the legitimacy of the monarchy was not a problem.

in Spectacular Performances
Stephen Orgel

The history of anti-theatricalism from Plato onward assumes that actors are indeed changed by their costumes. In William Shakespeare's own theater for the most part plays were costumed in Elizabethan dress; the Italy of Romeo and Juliet was a version of England. Disguises in Shakespeare are almost always absolute, with a small number of exceptions, nobody ever sees through a disguise. The famous Peacham drawing for Titus Andronicus gestures toward ancient Rome in the costume of Titus, in the center; but queen Tamora's costume is quite generalized, vaguely medieval, certainly neither Roman nor Elizabethan. By the end of the eighteenth century the vogue for historic costume in drama was well under way. The thrilling, visually stunning Franco Zeffirelli films of Romeo and Juliet and The Taming of the Shrew are set in fifteenth-century Verona and Padua, with historically accurate costumes and sets.

in Spectacular Performances