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date: 27 November 2021

Abstract and Keywords

To envision the acting style called ‘personation’ by the Chamberlain's and King's Men requires both mining their scripts for clues and investigating the design of the Globe theatre for its contribution to the development of personation and of playwrighting for that acting technique. Providing the actor with a stage large enough to allow for freedom of movement, yet small enough and close enough to the audience to highlight discrete details of body language, the Globe enabled the actor to counterfeit naturalistic physical behaviour. Not only would the Globe's conditions encourage plausible body language and behaviour, but also, by visually emphasising gesture, they might demand it. ‘Counterfeiting’ also achieves the appearance of not ‘acting’, but with the added implication of forgery. The goals of personation and modern naturalistic acting are essentially the same: the illusion of ‘real’ people at ‘real’ moments in their lives. When used to discuss William Shakespeare's characters who adopt the methods of players, however, only ‘to counterfeit’ remains applicable. In these cases, the element of forgery becomes thematic.

Keywords: Globe theatre, personation, King's Men, naturalistic acting, counterfeiting, forgery, William Shakespeare, body language, movement, gesture

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