Matisse in the Playhouse

By Tavares, Elizabeth E. | Shakespeare Studies, Annual 2019 | Go to article overview

Matisse in the Playhouse


Tavares, Elizabeth E., Shakespeare Studies


ON MY WAY TO EAST LONDON from a Shakespeare's Globe performance in August 2017, I noticed an advertisement in one of the Tube stations. Accompanying the billing for the Royal Academy of Arts' exhibition, Matisse in the Studio, was a quotation from Henri: "a good actor can have a part in ten different plays; an object can play a role in ten different pictures." It is from Museum Studies that we borrow the word curation: the selection and arrangement of preexisting art objects for a particular experience. But this notion of curation has now overleaped the bounds of the art world; "content curation" is the stock-in-trade of every major marketing, consulting, and Big Data firm--from fashion to Facebook, from American Girl to the American Dream. The concept of curation, which exploded in the 1970s art world and again in the 2000s web-based economy, is much older than Matisse's nineteenth century, however. In this essay, I argue that curation is a hermeneutic equipped to account for repertory economics that structured the sixteenth-century theater industry. Pre-Shakespearean cases will exemplify how the field of Shakespeare Studies' approach to troupes could evolve using this transdisciplinary paradigm.

Clicking for the Same Reasons

Repertory as a system for presenting theater is distinctive in that it asks consumers to think about plays in sets--which is to say, relationally rather than as individual art objects. Repertory Studies and several recently published company biographies have established which plays were owned by which company at which point. (1) The energy in these biographies is given to characterizing the venues and neighborhoods in which the companies performed, the ostensible relationship between the companies and courtly patrons, and individual personnel. What about the ways in which the marketplace differed, not only from how mainstream US and UK audiences watch today (in seasons with a handful of plays running one at a time) but also from other contemporaneous performance economies? For example, while England was operating this professional repertory system--using the same stable of actors to perform a different play every night of the week--major Italian companies such as those in Venice were staging but two operas a summer, frontloading all of their investment in a single production until it grew stale for audiences. The sixteenth-century English repertory model is still in use not only in a minority of contemporary theaters in the UK, US, and Germany, but in the majority of regional US Shakespeare festival theaters. Consider the casting calendar in the annual program of the Utah Shakespeare Festival. Readers can locate actors on the y-axis to see what shows they will be in on the xaxis--a marketing feature aiming to cultivate returner audiences.

If you plan to visit the Getty--or many another major museum-sometime soon, you can test the effects of curation for yourself: the connections your brain makes when you move from one room to the next full of paintings and sculpture. Those pathways are not haphazard. The curators have something in mind for the visitor's experience by way of the selection and arrangement of the works encountered. Hans Ulrich Obrist, the leading voice on curation in the contemporary art world, argues that curation is "the medium through which most art becomes known." (2) Curation usefully produces a coherent set of investments from a selection of art without necessarily having to locate that coherence in an individual person--like a playhouse-landlord such as Philip Henslowe, say. That arrangement is not a product of a singular subject, however, but an accretion over time as a viewer moves through the exhibit. To extrapolate for the repertory system, a playgoer could now dictate the theatrical experience when adopting repeated habits of playgoing, or by selecting from repeatable factors, such as a favorite actor or a spectacular prop.

I would take Obrist's observations a step further to suggest that curation by audiences was one of the paradigm shifts that helped to define the English Renaissance--a mode of consuming cultural products that informed the theater's repertory system. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Matisse in the Playhouse
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.