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date: 20 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

When early modern plays were staged with black curtains, ‘tragedy’ began the moment the audience entered a playhouse. ‘Tragedy’, then, did not always need to be part of a play’s content: it could be a look, an atmosphere, a theatrical mood. This chapter explores ‘tragedy’ as a kind of performance as well as a kind of drama. Considering ‘tragic’ staging, ‘tragic’ ways of walking (‘strutting’, ‘jetting’, and ‘stalking’), ‘tragic’ ways of speaking (‘ranting’ and ‘canting’ in a tragic ‘tone’ or ‘key’), and the presentation of tragic passions, the chapter argues that Shakespeare’s consciousness of staging dictates his choice of metaphor and symbol. Enacted tragedy, it suggests, helped form Shakespeare’s tragic sensibility.

Keywords: staging, performance, strutting, jetting, stalking, ranting, canting, tone, passions, Shakespeare

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