Shakespeare: An Illustrated Stage History, Volume 10
Jonathan Bate, Professor of Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature Jonathan Bate, Russell Jackson
Oxford University Press, 1996 - Drama - 253 pages
Four hundred years ago, Hamlet urged his players, Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue. But in expressing the passions of the play, he advised, Let discretion be your guide. Ever since, the tensions between faithfulness to the text on one hand,
and expressive freedom on the other, have kept Shakespeare productions in a state of constant flux. From the radical alterations and improvements of the late seventeenth century, to the startling dislocations in setting, dress, and political context of the twentieth, from the extravagant sets of
the Victorians to the stark minimalism of London's 1970s fringe theatre, Shakespeare's plays have lent themselves to an astonishing variety of incarnations.
Written by a team of distinguished scholars, under the editorship of Jonathan Bate and Russell Jackson, Shakespeare: An Illustrated Stage History offers an elegantly designed and compellingly readable account of four centuries of Shakepearean productions. The book is consistently illuminating. Of
the theatre of Shakespeare's own day, for instance, we learn not only what the plays would have looked like but also how changing conditions affected their composition--how, in 1604, the Act to Restrain Abuses of Players, which forbid the utterance of Christian oaths on stage, drove Shakespeare to
set his plays in antiquity for the next five years. Likewise, when the King's Men moved indoors from the Globe to the Blackfriars theatre for the winter season, Shakespeare was forced to compose his plays in five distinct acts, separated by musical intervals, because the candles lighting the stage
would burn down and need to be replaced. We also learn of the vehement Puritan antipathy to the theatre, an antipathy so great that at the outset of the civil war, in 1642, Parliament passed the Stephens Act, outlawing all stage performances--to avoid the high provocation of God's wrath--and
formally declaring players to be rogues, subject to public whippings and even the death penalty. Though the theatre has never since been considered quite so dangerous, the contributors clearly show how politically powerful Shakespeare performances have remained, and how variable, with both the
establishment and the opposition enlisting the Bard in their causes. The book is equally engaging on the great actors, from eighteenth-century giant David Garrick to modern figures such as Ralph Fiennes, John Gielgud, Lawrence Olivier, Ralph Richardson, Peggy Ashcroft, and Peter Brook (the book
includes a fascinating piece by actress Judi Dench that provides a performer's view of Shakespeare).
What emerges most significantly from the book is a vivid sense of the enormous malleability of Shakespeare's work, responsive not only to changing political, economic, and social conditions, but also to the widest range of imaginative impulses in staging, direction, and interpretation. An
invaluable and delightful book for anyone interested in Shakespeare or the stage, this superb volume gives readers a much clearer knowledge of the forces that have shaped Shakespeare productions. Indeed, they will feel as if they've been given backstage passes to the best performances of the past
... we William Hazlitt was close to Coleridge and Lamb , discover a mighty irregular power of reasoning , but in his attitude to Shakespeare in the theatre he immethodized from the ordinary purposes of life , but stood apart from them .
But here the combined with nineteenth - century ' painting and cross - currents of Shakespeare in the theatre force us to decoration ' ( fig . 57 ) . This transferred to Dresden the make a detour , for Ibsen would not have seen Emil ...
... Musicians , Dancers , Managers and other Stage Personnel in London , 1660-1800 , 12 vols . ( Carbondale , Ill . , 1973-91 ) . Charles Beecher Hogan , Shakespeare in the Theatre : 1701–1800 , 2 vols . ( Oxford , 1952–7 ) .
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Shakespeare: an illustrated stage historyUser Review - Not Available - Book Verdict
If, as the editors of this book declare in their preface, "all the world has become Shakespeare's stage," its capital nonetheless remains the English theater. From their original stagings 400 years ... Read full review
Shakespeares Elizabethan Stages
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