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date: 29 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter focuses on the ways that Shakespeare’s comedies have been reshaped over the last 400 years, in response to various cultural, historical, and social changes, and in reaction to various aesthetic concerns, including theatre personnel, literary fashions, and stage features. The topic of adaptation raises a number of theoretical questions. First, what is ‘Shakespeare’? Is ‘Shakespeare’ a set of plots, characters, stories, or poetry? If one of these items is removed or drastically changed, can the work still be called ‘Shakespeare’s play’? If a work has the same characters as Shakespeare’s original text, but in a modern setting, is it an adaptation? What if the language is modernized, but the plot and characters remain exactly the same? What if some characters are omitted, and others are added? These are some of the questions that this chapter will address as it chronicles more than three centuries of reshaping the comedies.

Keywords: Shakespeare, comedy, adaptation, music, spectacle

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