Shakespeare's Staging
1590 to 2005
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Wednesday, 16 March 2005 12:09

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As You Like It (I.2): The wrestling scene, at the Drury Lane Theatre, London, 19th century.

PREFACE TO PERFORMANCES FROM 1590 TO 2005

One of the principal implications of the following entries, and the relevant illustrative material in the Performance Galleries, is that each age stages and perceives the character of Shakespeare's plays as refracted through its own values and conventions, not just in terms of religious, political, social and aesthetic values, but even in terms of acceptable costumes and scenery. The effects of such refractions of the texts usually involve drastic cuts, emendations, and re-editing. This type of modification has long been identified in such periods as the Restoration, with its reinforcement of neoclassical norms, such as the unities of time, place and action, and the preference for purity of genres such as tragedy and comedy. However, it is now generally perceived that, while the nineteenth century restored much of the original scripts to the stage, these more authentic versions had still to be trimmed severely to accommodate handling of the complex, historically elaborate scenery then fashionable. Act V of Beerbohm Tree's Henry VIII disappeared entirely.

Awareness of such modifications by past authorities should alert us to the treatment accorded to Shakespeare's scripts by academic and theatrical powers in our own time, who reconstruct Shakespeare to suit modern tastes, often excused by these precedents of earlier performances. Editors now often extend such radical instability of text to Shakespeare's own time on the basis of divergences between quarto and folio editions. For example, there are now often supposed to be at least two pairs of Shakespearean plays called Richard III and King Lear respectively. The name of the character we have known as Falstaff has disappeared from the script of Henry IV, Part 1 in the Oxford Complete Works of Shakespeare. These local revisions, originally often resulting from adjustments to temporary conditions of original performance, are now held to discredit the integrity of the playwright's text, so that any divergence from printed scripts is nowadays both inevitable and properly unlimited, though the result may still be advanced under the banner of "Shakespearean." However, in a broader context, modern adjustments may seem as localized as those of the neoclassicists or the Victorian historicists. If this website has any larger implication, it is to undercut the definitiveness of many local perspectives, interpretations, and performances, and instead suggest the need to recognize, with most popular audiences, the underlying humane consistencies by which Shakespeare's plays have successfully defied historical distortion.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A.

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Agate, James E. Brief Chronicles: A Survey of the Plays of Shakespeare and the Elizabethans in Actual Performance. London: Jonathan Cape, 1943.

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B.

Bate, Jonathan, and Russell Jackson, eds. Shakespeare: An Illustrated History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

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Birmingham Public Library. Shakespeare and the Stage, Series 3, Part 1: Prompt Books and Related Materials [Frank Benson, Gordon Crosse, etc.; 10 microfilm reels]. Brighton: Harvester Microform, 1986.

Brook, Donald. A Pageant of English Actors. London: Rockliff, 1950.

Bruster, Douglas, and Robert Weimann. Prologues to Shakespeare's Theatre: Performance and Liminality in Early Modern Drama. London: Routledge, 2004.

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C.

Cobb, Christopher J. The Staging of Romance in Late Shakespeare: Text and Theatrical Technique. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2007.

Conolly, Leonard W., and J. P. Wearing, eds. English Drama and Theatre, 1800-1900: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1978.

Cook, Dutton. A Book of the Play: Studies and Illustrations of the Histrionic Story, Life and Character. London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington, 1881.

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D.

Dawson, Anthony B. Watching Shakespeare: A Playgoers' Guide. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1988.

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Dixon, Luke. The Performance of Gender with Particular Reference to the Plays of Shakespeare. Middlesex University, 1998.

Dobbs, Brian. Drury Lane: Three Centuries of the Theatre Royal 1663- 1971. London: Cassell, 1972.

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E.

Engler, Balz. "'Else my project fails': Applause and the Authority of Shakespeare's Texts." Cahiers Elisabethains 44 (1993): 23-31.

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F.

Fischlin, Daniel, and Mark Fortier, eds. Adaptations of Shakespeare: An Anthology of Plays from the Seventeenth Century to the Present. New York; Milton Park, UK: Routledge, 2000.

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G.

Gale, Maggie B. and John Stokes, eds. The Cambridge Companion to the Actress. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007

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Goldman, Michael. Shakespeare and the Energies of Drama. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1972.

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Gooch, Bryan N. S., and David Thatcher. A Shakespeare Music Catalogue. 5 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991.

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H.

Haberman, Ina. Staging Slander and Gender in Rarly Modern England. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003.

Halstead, William P. Shakespeare as Spoken: A Collation of 5000 Acting Editions and Promptbooks of Shakespeare. 12 Vols. Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International, for the American Theater Association, 1977-80.

Hamilton, Fiona. "Dig at New Theatre Site Reveals Shakespeare's First Playhouse." The Times, London, August 6, 2008.

Harvard University. Shakespeare and the Stage: Prompt Books from the Harvard Theatre Collection [34 reels of microfilm]. Reading: Research Publications, 1988.

Highfill, Philip, et al. A Biographical Dictionary of Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Dancers. 16 vols. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1991.

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Hitchcock, Robert. An Historical View of the Irish Stage; From the Earliest Period Down To the Close of the Season 1788. Interspersed With Theatrical Anecdotes, And An Occasional Review Of The Irish Dramatic Authors and Actors. Dublin: Marchbank, 1788-94.

Hoenselaars, Ton. Shakespeare's History Plays: Performance, Translation and Adaptation in Britain and Abroad. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

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I.

Iser, Wolfgang. Staging Politics: the Lasting Impact of Shakespeare's Histories. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993.

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J.

Jewkes, Wilfred T. Act Division in Elizabethan and Jacobean Plays: 1583-1616.

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K.

Kathman, David. Biographical Index of English Drama Before 1660[: a Complete Annotated List of All Playwrights, Actors, Patrons, Musicians, and Miscellaneous Other People Active in English Drama Before 1660].

Kelly, F. M. Shakespeare Costume for Stage and Screen. London: Adam and Charles Black, 1938. Revised by Alan Mansfield, 1970. Reprinted and corrected, 1973.

Kiefer, Frederick. Shakespeare's Visual Theatre: Staging the Personified Characters. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003.

Knapp, Richard J. A Consideration of the Relationship Between Performance and Criticism in the Work of Shakespeare. Bristol: University of the West of England, 2005.

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L.

Lamb, Charles. "On the Tragedies of Shakespeare Considered with Reference to Their Fitness for Stage Presentation." In Shakespeare Criticism, edited by D. Nichol Smith, 190-212. London: Oxford University Press, 1919.

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Lowe, Robert, James Arnott and John Robinson. English Theatrical Literature, 1559-1900: A Bibliography. Incorporating Lowe's A Bibliographical Account of English Theatrical Literature [1888]. London: Society for Theatre Research, 1970.

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M.

Marshall, Gail, ed. Lives of Shakespearian Actors. 3 vols. Williston, VT: Ashgate, 2007.

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N.

Nagler, A. M. A Source Book in Theatrical History. New York: Dover, 1952.

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O.

Occhiogrosso, Frank, ed. Shakespeare in Performance: a Collection of Essays. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2003.

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P.

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Q.

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R.

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Richmond, Hugh M. "The Dark Lady as Reformation Mistress." Kenyon Review 3, no. 2 (Spring 1986): 91-105.

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S.

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T.

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U.

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V.

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W.

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X.

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Y.

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Z.

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The rebuilt Globe Theatre stands as a link between Shakespeare's time and our own.

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