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date: 26 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The recent performance history of Macbeth illustrates two tendencies discernible in contemporary Shakespeare performance more widely: the strong, empathic engagement characteristic of theatrical intimacy in the Aristotelian vein and the vast, distancing sweep of epic as theorized by Bertolt Brecht and, later, Walter Benjamin. By considering productions by Punchdrunk, Rift, John Tiffany and Andrew Goldberg, Kenneth Branagh and Rob Ashford, and Grzegorz Jarzyna, this chapter argues that epic theatre as proposed by Brecht and Benjamin is a marked feature of immersive productions, which combine the impression of intimacy with the distancing effect of the epic. Using Elinor Fuchs’s notion of landscape theatre, it concludes that in contemporary apolitical epic theatre, intimacy can be achieved outside Aristotelian catharsis or character and even beyond the notion of humanity.

Keywords: Key terms, Macbeth, Bertolt Brecht, Walter Benjamin, Elinor Fuchs, Rift, Punchdrunk, Grzegorz Jarzyna, Kenneth Branagh, Rob Ashford

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