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date: 22 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Though it has been much criticized by theatre artists and scholars, the legacy of theatrical realism and naturalism continues to shape contemporary Shakespearean performance. If realist and naturalist approaches to acting fail to encompass the full power of the Shakespearean play-text—or to remedy its more problematic aspects—is this failure necessarily unproductive? Considering this question in relation to the play-text of Antony and Cleopatra and a few of its recent theatrical incarnations, this chapter argues that the lacks, omissions, and failures of realist and naturalist modes of performance can provoke spectators to engage anew with Shakespeare’s lovers and their potential significance for contemporary Western audiences. Acknowledgement of the persistence and value of such traditional modes can add to the complexity of audience reception studies of Shakespeare..

Keywords: Key terms, Acting, theatrical realism, theatrical naturalism, traditional modes of performance, Antony and Cleopatra, audience reception studies

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