Pursuing Shakespeare's Dramaturgy: Some Contexts, Resources, and Strategies in His Playmaking

Pursuing Shakespeare's Dramaturgy: Some Contexts, Resources, and Strategies in His Playmaking

Pursuing Shakespeare's Dramaturgy: Some Contexts, Resources, and Strategies in His Playmaking

Pursuing Shakespeare's Dramaturgy: Some Contexts, Resources, and Strategies in His Playmaking

Synopsis

"This book is about Shakespeare's stagecraft. It presents examinations of the conditions under which Shakespeare worked, including limitations and opportunities offered by circumstances that affected how his plays were written. It attempts to recover more in Shakespeare's plays than is normally appreciated, and to discover previously unnoticed dramatic strategies embedded in the Shakespearean texts. The book is aimed at Shakespeare as a playwright - or, more exactly, a playmaker - of his time. It considers only the earliest texts of the plays, only the resources available when they were written, and only what can be seen in the plays in conjunctions with the evidences from the days of Shakespeare's career. It is especially concerned with what can be said about Shakespeare's intentions as he shaped his plays. There are, the book maintains, important but still inadequately appreciated dramatic designs built into the plays, and there are clever strategies that have gone unnoticed but may yet be discerned by the careful application of dramaturgical analysis. The Shakespeare studied in this book is Shakespeare the playmaker, engaged in every step of the process from the first draft of the text to the performance before a live audience. This, the author contends, is the Shakespeare that is most essential, the Shakespeare who should be known as the foundation underlying any other treatment of the plays, and the Shakespeare most exciting and rewarding to pursue." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

This book, though it is ambitious and the child of long gestation and labor (and larger than would have been preferred), is not very intricate in its tasks and its purposes. It undertakes to explore the specifically dramatic arts and practices that distinguish plays from poetry and other exclusively literary forms, in order to examine how they are characteristically employed by Shakespeare in building and enacting dramatic designs toward performance. That is what I mean by “dramaturgy.” It is intended to cover territories in Shakespearean studies that, when brought together, should prove to be a useful general resource, and to do so with what I believe to be a considerable number of new contributions to the mapping of those territories as well as some suggestions about how to pursue further explorations along similar lines.

My main intention is to present a sturdy sketch of how the study of Shakespearean dramaturgy may be most soundly appreciated and approached, beginning with an indication of the usefulness and potential need of doing so, and proceeding with the foundations and preliminary resources of such study, the contextual considerations necessary for its discipline, and the ways in which Shakespeare exploited the resources and opportunities available to him and adapted to the limitations to which he had to conform. Some of the justifications of the appropriateness and groundings of the book will emerge in the opening chapter, and thereafter will be further enlarged and developed through the treatment of the relevant topics.

It will readily become apparent that I think that many of Shakespeare's intentions for the performances of his plays are detectably retrievable from their texts. I am aware that this is an unfashionable assumption, but I see no reason to apologize for it. I believe it to be true, and I believe it to be important. The evidence supporting my belief that it is true will emerge consistently . . .

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