One problem with historicist readings, old and "New," is their unhistorical readiness to think of the Original Audience as some fabulous beast with many bodies but one obediently loyal heart, and one unimpressive mind. As Stephen Greenblatt explains in the opening pages of Shakespearean Negotiations, the "Shakespearean theater" is "the product of collective intentions" and "manifestly addresses its audience as collectivity": it "depends upon a felt community"; there is "no attempt to isolate and awaken the sensibilities of each individual member of the audience, no sense of the disappearance of the crowd." 1 On this view "Shakespearean theater" was altogether remote from the kind of theater Brecht envisaged when he urged his company not to regard, and play to, the audience as a monolithic entity: "He asked them to think of their audience as a divided group of friends and enemies, rich and poor, and to divide their audience accordingly by addressing themselves to one part of the audience now, to another part the next moment." 2 Similarly, the interests of the homogeneous audience described in Ann Jennalie Cook Privileged Playgoers of Shakespeare's London were so nearly identified with those of the queen as to make the elaborate apparatus of state and censorship seem curiously excessive; nor is this difficulty resolved when it is explained that "the entire rationale for
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Publication information: Book title: Misrepresentations:Shakespeare and the Materialists. Contributors: Graham Bradshaw - Author. Publisher: Cornell University Press. Place of publication: Ithaca, NY. Publication year: 1993. Page number: 34.
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