This chapter examines the intermingling of rhetorical theory, educational training in Latin grammar and rhetoric, and literary representations that designate bodies, texts, genres, figures, and tropes as “male,” “female,” and/or “epicene” (of common gender). Arguing that a tripartite rather than binary scheme is appropriate to early modern British literature and culture, the chapter historicizes Jacques Lacan’s abstract psychoanalytic claims about the “Symbolic Order” by examining language games, community practices, and social texts at work in literary texts that translate classical rhetorical training into vernacular literary practice. Focusing on William Shakespeare, John Webster, and George Gascoigne, the chapter explores the vogue for Ovidian cross-voicing in light of grammar school training in prosopopoeia and impersonation. Along the way it analyzes many examples of literary imitatio in which a male/female binary distinction collapses and rhetoric’s translation into literary invention is rendered legible in epicene figures that defy easy categorization.
Alfredo Michel Modenessi
The history of Shakespeare in Latin America spans roughly the same two hundred years as the region’s independent life. Throughout, his works have been the object of performance, translation, and adaptation more than of academic study and discussion. This essay offers a comprehensive framework for application to future work on the subject of Shakespeare performance in Latin America. The chief theoretical tools undepinning the essay are Haroldo de Campos and Silviano Santiago’s elaborations on ‘transcreation’, ‘cultural anthropophagy’, and ‘in-betweenness’. To outline significant common factors among Shakespeare performances in Latin America’s twenty Spanish-speaking nations, the chapter discusses two examples in depth: the first, a simple but powerful Mexican adaptation called Mendoza (2011); the second, an Italian documentary of a Cuban performance called Shakespeare in Avana: Altri Romeo, Altre Giuliette (2010). These analyses suggest the strengths of other Latin American acts of performance based on the complex phenomenon called Shakespeare.
Despite growing interest in Asian Shakespeare performances, the intercultural strategy of Asian Shakespeare has largely been discussed from a scenographic perspective due to its powerful visual representations that transcend cultural boundaries. This chapter aims to correct the overemphasis on visual representation in critical assessment of Japanese Shakespeare performances by discussing, first, the presence of language in Yukio Ninagawa’s Shakespeare productions, and, second, the characteristic use of dramatic texts in productions by the Ku Na’uka Theatre Company, Mansai Nomura, and the Shakespeare for Children Company, which each demonstrate bold and unique modes of engagement with the text. The chapter finally discusses whether or not there is a uniquely Japanese theatrical response to the text and, if so, what cultural factors lie behind it.
Yong Li Lan
This chapter reflects on the doubleness of translation as the condition of existence of Asian performances of Shakespeare. It begins with the experience of hearing echoes of the original English lines when listening to Shakespeare’s texts translated into a language one does not speak. To address the interculturality of reception of Asian Shakespeare performances, the Asian Shakespeare Intercultural Archive (A|S|I|A, http://a-s-i-a-web.org), a collaborative project by scholars, translators, and practitioners, developed an approach to archiving production videos, scripts, and data in four parallel languages: English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean. The chapter examines the A|S|I|A archival process in relation to the position of the English scripts in multidirectional translations, and to the detailed data created by the project team. It concludes by positing comparative research into the use of the ‘traditional’ by tracing the varying occurrences of the term in the data.
One of the culturally dominant means through which time is conceptualized as space, and vice versa, jet lag has increasingly become a metaphor we live by. It has particular resonances for Shakespearean performance, a phenomenon that is, by definition, perpetually out of time. Taking as a point of departure Brian Cox’s 1991 account of his experience of the National Theatre’s touring productions of King Lear and Richard III, this chapter aligns the predicament of the jet -lagged traveller, the off-form actor, and the jet-lagged, off-form travelling actor to argue that their mutual predicament offers an under-explored frame of reference for performance in general and for Shakespeare in performance in particular. It examines how mechanisms of synchrony (or entrainment) shape the actor’s work in performance and with the audience. It also examines the implications of theatrical good and bad timing, and the sometimes unexpected consequences of time getting out of joint.
Exploring the polarized opinions of the general public, scholars, and theatre professionals within China, and between China and Britain, on the Chinese Shakespeare Great General Kouliulan (Coriolanus)—which combines spoken drama with rock ’n’ roll—this chapter revisits many questions that have been raised in the debate over intercultural theatre. Why are theatre practitioners interested in producing an intercultural piece? How does it happen and what do artists do? Who benefits from doing intercultural work, and for whom is it intended? Is ‘process’ necessarily more important than ‘outcome’, and is there too much emphasis on ‘we’ and ‘others’ in the debate rather than on the created work at the end of the process? Lin Zhaohua’s Coriolanus serves as the case study in the chapter but other modern spoken drama productions and traditional song-dance theatre adaptations are also mentioned to offer readers a broader understanding of Shakespeare on the Chinese stage.
This chapter revisits debates regarding the use of technology to enhance or remediate performances in the light of Emmanuel Levinas’s understanding of the ethical encounter as a face-to-face encounter between a subject and her/his other. Building on these debates and Robert Weimann’s distinction between locus and platea, it suggests that performance theory’s emphasis on the physical co-presence of spectator and performer undervalues the experience of the spectator. Using three productions that use digital media as examples, the chapter demonstrates how online live streaming (in Cheek by Jowl’s Measure for Measure), digital hologram projection (in the McGuires’ Ophelia’s Ghost), and the use of an online stage (in the RSC’s collaboration with Google+ on #dream40) each harness the affordances of digital media to create conceptual spaces in which spectators can experience ethical encounters. Digital media thus open up distinct ways of experiencing dilemmas explored by Shakespeare’s plays.
The South Sudan Theatre Company (SSTC) brought its Juba Arabic translation of Cymbeline to the Globe to Globe Festival in London in 2012 amid expectations that the production would represent the country’s recent independence struggle. Associating the African country with violent conflict while representing Shakespeare as a force for peace, the advance publicity for the production repeated neocolonial tropes that stereotypically inform both entities. The production itself, however, presented a very different version of both ‘Shakespeare’ and ‘Africa’. Instead of depicting a bloody war that yields to reconciliation only after great suffering, the SSTC retold Cymbeline as a melodramatic, slapstick comedy. The production’s playfulness opened a space for the company to deflect, redirect, and expose to question the very process of constructing knowledge. The obligation to represent South Sudan therefore became an opportunity to challenge the structures of thought undergirding stereotypes about the country and the African continent.
One dimension of contemporary Shakespeare, and of contemporary theatre more widely, is its involvement in technicity: the critique of the relation between notions of technology and the human. Taking Annie Dorsen’s A Piece of Work—an ‘algorithmic’ performance of Hamlet—as touchstone, this chapter explores the relationship between acting, print, digital textuality, and code in the fashioning of the contemporary technology of Shakespearean theatre, a theatre—like all theatre, perhaps—that enacts a principle of deformance with regard to literary notions of the drama. Literalizing a vision of text-driven performance, A Piece of Work marks the interplay between textuality and acting as technologies within a theatre undergoing constant technological transformation.
Anthony R. Guneratne
Shakespeare adaptations are uniquely suited to chart the historical reciprocity between performance traditions and emerging mediascapes. Reframing a classical essay of Walter Benjamin’s within the context of contemporary media theory, this chapter draws together archival research, interviews, and observations of performances in related aesthetic forms that have engaged with Shakespeare’s texts, including those by such key figures as Giuseppe Verdi, George Balanchine, and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. By focusing on connections between the inventors of audiovisual technologies (from early audio recordings to ‘live’ HD broadcasts) and key performances by actors, singers, and dancers, and by examining how contemporary performers respond to today’s digital technologies in the light of the traditions of performance established by their predecessors, it attempts to resituate the study of adaptations of Shakespeare within broader historical and cultural contexts.
Shakespeare ‘owners’ in the British cultural marketplace have long been the powerful male actors, artistic directors, and theatre reviewers who function as arbiters of ‘good’ acting, directing, and interpretation of Shakespeare. This chapter excavates the conservative political framework that has historically limited the experiences of women directing Shakespeare in the UK. How does an unspoken but deeply entrenched and gendered sense of who knows Shakespeare well enough to advocate on ‘His’ behalf determine what opportunities do, or do not, come women’s way? What does that powerful sense of knowledge and ownership reveal about the gendered expectations that still accrue to the work of women directors of Shakespeare? Is the landscape shifting, and if so how? What strategies might feminist directors such as Katie Mitchell use to make way for women’s engagement with Shakespeare on feminism’s own terms, and to build a critical consensus around the legitimacy of their work?
This chapter considers the impact of ‘global Shakespeare’ on performance traditions associated with mainstream Shakespeare on the English stage with particular focus on productions which put Shakespeare in conversation with non-English theatrical conventions in order to unsettle the distinction between ‘English Shakespeare’ and ‘Foreign Shakespeare’. The main focus of the chapter is the work of a London-based theatre company, ‘Two Gents Productions’, formed by a German-born director from South Africa and two Zimbabwean actors, and the evolution of their ‘township theatre’ approach to Shakespearea from their launch production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona south London (Ovalhouse) in 2008 to their contribution to the Globe to Globe Festival in 2012. The uniquely intercultural, playful quality of their Shakespearean productions shows that intercultural performance need not involve cultural looting or an unequal exchange between participating cultures. It justifies an optimistic outlook for intercultural performance in increasingly globalized theatrical (and Shakespearean) geographies.
Carol Chillington Rutter
One of the more surprising developments in the performance of Shakespeare across England over the past decade is the number of puppets who’ve appeared in the casting, sometimes in productions made for children (Macbeth at Little Angel; The Tempest, Little Angel/RSC); sometimes in productions made for adults (A Midsummer Night’s Dream at both Bristol Old Vic/Handspring and Krymov Laboratory; Propeller’s Richard III designed by Michael Pavelka). This chapter examines seven productions to give a sense of the variety of puppet performances on offer and to discover something about the effect of casting puppets: what puppets do, what they bring to performance, and how they act upon Shakespeare to make audiences ‘see new’, see differently. Through its discoveries, it makes a stab at theorizing how puppets behaves in the field of representation on postmodern Shakespearean stages and identifies ‘genealogies of performance’ that connect the puppets with their performances.
Whilst the cultural materialist scholarship of the 1980s asserted that Shakespeare can never be our contemporary, actors, directors, and voice practitioners have insisted with equal assurance and political passion that Shakespeare always has something to say to the contemporary moment. This chapter uses three recent productions of Othello as case studies to consider the artistic and ideological work that rendering Shakespeare ‘our contemporary’ allows his plays to do in order to current and historical constructions of social class and race. Even as the chapter continues the cultural materialist project of naming the theatrical and cultural strategies of appropriation used by Shakespeare production, it also seeks to explore the theatrical and cultural work Shakespeare does to the contemporary. It suggests that performing Shakespeare is always a dialogue between the discourses, theatrical conventions, and political concerns of past and present.
This chapter is about walking to, from, and during Shakespearean performance. It argues that this walking enhances the way a production matters for its various audience members. The first half of the chapter details several productions the author walked to and from in and around the inner city of Melbourne, and the second half details immersive and site-specific productions where walking was an integral part of the theatrical experience itself. It is argued that this walking offers an embodied and spatialized practice of (and for) engagement and reflection, both intellectual and affective, and that not just the text, but also the context, is imbued with renewed vigour. The chapter, therefore, celebrates both an incredible diversity of Shakespearean productions within a very short time frame and within a confined geography and also the various Melbourne locations and journeys that the productions encompass and enhance.
Performance, Presence, and Personal Responsibility: Witnessing Global Theatre in and around the Globe
What remains of the 2012 Globe to Globe Festival through the globeplayer.tv seems to have yoked neo-Victorian ideals of the 1851 Great Exhibition to twenty-first-century social media marketing tools. The globeplayer.tv helps to spread the Globe brand internationally but at a price. This chapter argues that the festival she experienced was much more than a product and that individual productions within it reclaimed, as well as wrote back to, imperial attitudes and the project of civilizing the natives through Shakespeare. Linking analysis to the reassessment of history as experience and digital marketing as storytelling, the chapter argues that performance criticism has nowhere to go but back to its origins in theatre history, chronicling the interaction and political implications of specific performances. The author traces how how she travelled through the performances to help create the archive of the festival and likens her role to ‘Chorus to this history’.
A growing number of apps and iBooks seek to take advantage of digital technologies to incorporate photos, videos, and audio recordings into editions of Shakespeare’s plays, touting these additions as a boon for understanding Shakespeare. But any promise of transforming how editions can draw on and connect to performances of the plays has not yet been met. Instead, such promises run smack into the limitations of technology, money, rights, and imagination—all hampered by a failure to understand what purpose linking to performances might serve and undermining the pedagogical aims of teaching students to interpret Shakespeare on their own.
The force of ‘Shakespeare’ as a source of cultural authority in South Africa has been extensively discussed. This chapter looks at a phenomenon that is less often acknowledged: the persistence of directorial power in post-apartheid Shakespearean performance. Renewed ties with British theatre after apartheid brought actors and directors trained in a more actor-centred approach into dialogue with local theatre practitioners, but this did little to shift South African Shakespeare away from dependence on spectacle and on directors as inheritors of institutional power. Focusing on South African performances in 2011 and 2012 across the different institutional spaces in which Shakespeare is made to work (theatres, schools, and prisons), in productions that promise to create democratic, liberating, ‘open’ Shakespeare, one finds both defiance and a striking restatement of the status quo. While connections with British theatre give authority and legitimacy to post-apartheid performances, the potential for ‘open Shakespeare’ has been squelched.
Drawing on the work of Marvin Carlson and Susan Bennett, this chapter interrogates the role of the broader canon of early modern drama, usually Jacobean, in shaping contemporary Shakespearean performance. Shakespeare and ‘not-Shakespeare’ are part of a binary that treats not-Shakespeare as both a supplement to the Shakespeare canon and a perversion or antithesis of it. This chapter analyses criticism of recent productions of Cardenio and ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore to show how a dominant interpretative paradigm based on Shakespeare skews readings of both Shakespeare and not-Shakespeare, yoking them to a limited selection of values and aesthetic priorities. Yet while not-Shakespeare remains defined by a negative, this chapter argues that a current shift in theatrical cultures is blurring previously established boundaries to productive effect.
This chapter explores the differing impact of the transvestite on stage and film. Its primary focus is on Sven Gade’s 1920 silent film Hamlet, starring the Danish film star Asta Nielsen as the prince, and Julie Taymor’s 2010 film The Tempest, with Helen Mirren reimagining Prospero and Prospera. The nine decades between the two films measure the course of several generations of technical and social progress. Further, their exemplary use of cross-dressing and gender-bending serve yet again to show larger historical crossings between Shakespeare’s generation and our own. Gade’s Hamlet serves as a defining historical moment for cross-dressing and gender-bending in filmed Shakespeare. Taymor’s Tempest provides a similar occasion for a contemporary audience—but with two important differences. Because Gade’s Hamlet is silent, visuals necessarily dominate text, whereas in Taymor’s Tempest visuals and text take on an integral balance and mutual reinforcement.