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date: 21 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines the cultural influence of William Shakespeare’s tragedies on Australasia and the Pacific. To this end, it analyses a range of live and filmed performances, along with the adaptive responses of writers, audiences, and critics to the tragedies. It begins by considering the presence of Shakespeare’s Complete Works on Captain James Cook’s Endeavour when it sailed the Pacific in 1769–1770 before turning to the first recorded Australian Shakespeare: a staging of Henry IV in Robert Sidaway’s Sydney theatre in 1800. It then looks at other works such as those by Charles and Ellen Kean, Ngaio Marsh, and John Bell as well as works that have become part of Australasian literature, including Randolph Stow’s Lear-themed 1958 novel To the Island. It also discusses a number of adaptations of Shakespearean tragedy and concludes with a commentary on Australasian and Pacific responses to tragedy that were generated by—or reflecting the perspectives of—indigenous populations.

Keywords: William Shakespeare, tragedies, Australasia, Pacific, performances, theatre, Australasian literature, adaptations, indigenous populations, Ngaio Marsh

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