Shakespeare at the Globe, 1599-1609

By Bernard Beckerman | Go to book overview

Chapter Five
THE STAGING

1. STAGE ILLUSION AT THE GLOBE PLAYHOUSE

STAGING, like acting, is an art of illusion, but its illusion, unlike that of acting, deals not with being but with time and space. In the manipulation of time, it has long been recognized that Shakespeare is a master. An oft-cited example of his mastery occurs in the guard scene in Othello (II, iii). During the course of the action a night is made to pass. At the beginning of the scene, the time is not yet "ten o' the clock" (15). At the conclusion, Iago remarks, "By th' mass, 'tis morning!" (384). In the midst of the alarum. Othello speaks of night and Iago agrees that Cassio should see Desdemona "betimes in the morning" (335). Here, as elsewhere, Shakespeare creates his own illusion of time corresponding neither to actual chronology nor to agreed convention, but solely to narrative demands.

It has also been generally recognized that Shakespeare may utilize more than one time scheme within a single play. For example, after Edmund has shown "Edgar's" letter to his father, the Duke of Gloucester, he assures him that he will seek out Edgar as quickly as he can,

convey the business as I shall find means, and acquaint you withal.

[I, ii, 109-111]

In Act II, scene i, three scenes later, he expedites his plot, presumably without delay, for the action picks up where it had left off. In the intervening scenes, however, Lear spends sufficient

-157-

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Shakespeare at the Globe, 1599-1609
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments v
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Chapter One - The Repertory 1
  • Chapter Two - The Dramaturgy 24
  • Chapter Three - The Stage 63
  • Chapter Four - The Acting 109
  • Chapter Five - The Staging 157
  • Chapter Six - The Style 214
  • Appendix A 217
  • Appendix B 220
  • Appendix C 226
  • Notes 232
  • Index to the Globe Plays 245
  • General Index 248
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