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date: 12 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Is it possible to hear blank pentameter verse during a theatrical performance? Can an audience perceive the difference between verse and prose, or hear when the playwright alters the iambic rhythm? Is blank verse a constitutive element of the performance event, something whose handling by the actors should be used to measure a production’s success? Is the poetry the actors speak more important than the visual and narrative experience they work to create? This chapter examines some answers that have been provided to these questions by modern criticism and performance. Part 19.1 discusses scholarly conceptions of blank verse as an historical phenomenon. Part 19.2 discusses the place Shakespeare’s poetry has held in post-Renaissance engagements with Shakespeare’s plays in performance. Part 19.3 focuses on Othello in order to draw some conclusions about the historical and ideological stakes of speaking, experiencing, and criticizing dramatic poetry in live performance.

Keywords: blank verse, metrics, performance, voice-training, Othello, John Gielgud, William Poel, Franco Zeffirelli

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