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date: 27 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

How do scholars and practitioners know what audiences think about non-traditionally cast productions of Shakespeare? Non-traditional casting—the practice of casting actors of colour in roles originally imagined as white characters performed by white actors—is a common phenomenon on British and American stages, especially in contemporary productions of classical plays. Nonetheless, very little research has been conducted on the effects of perceptions of race in/as performance on classical stages. This chapter asks a series of theoretical and methodological questions about the intersection of reception theory, the theatre archive, and race in/as performance. Beginning with an overview of reception studies for Shakespearean theatrical productions, it then examines an unusual audience reception archive—audience surveys conducted by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival—to analyse reactions to non-traditional casting of Romeo and Juliet. Finally it considers contemporary race studies and offers some thoughts about how to move forward with Shakespearean reception studies.

Keywords: Key terms, Shakespeare productions, reception studies, non-traditional casting, contemporary race studies, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Romeo and Juliet

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