The Staging of Romance in Late Shakespeare: Text and Theatrical Technique

The Staging of Romance in Late Shakespeare: Text and Theatrical Technique

The Staging of Romance in Late Shakespeare: Text and Theatrical Technique

The Staging of Romance in Late Shakespeare: Text and Theatrical Technique

Synopsis

The book argues that shakespeare's late plays can best be understood as theatricalexperiments that extend and reform this tradition, which developed around a group of theatrical techniques that sought to realize the effects of narrative romance in the theatrical medium.

Excerpt

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be
changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for
the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and
we shall be changed
.

St. Paul, I Corinthians, 15:51–52

Our representations must take second place to what is represented, men’s
life together in society; and the pleasure felt in their perfection must be
converted into the higher pleasure felt when the rules emerging from this
life in society are treated as imperfect and provisional. in this way the
theatre leaves its spectators productively disposed even after the spectacle
is over. Let us hope that their theatre may allow them to enjoy as enter
tainment that terrible and never-ending labour which should ensure their
maintenance, together with the terror of their unceasing transformation.
Let them here produce their own lives in the simplest way; for the simplest
way of living is in art
.

Brecht, “A Short Organum for the Theatre”

Romance and human transformation

This book, taking the WINTER’S tale as its main case study, examines how ultimately beneficent human transformations can take place in and through performances of romance plays. Its concern throughout is with method: the techniques and powers of performance that can bring about change, and their application by dramatic texts and by performers. These techniques have received surprisingly little study, especially given the interest in representations of individual and social change in early modern drama since the advent of the new historicism. Shakespeare’s late plays, which stage romance, are no less engaged with these processes of change than are the earlier tragedies, histories, and certain of the comedies that have received much more sustained critical attention since 1980. the late plays are concerned, however, with different kinds of personal and social . . .

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