From the Globe Theatre to the World Wide Web
Edited By Stefani Brusberg-Kiermeier and Jörg Helbig
Duncan Salkeld (Chichester): Shakespeare staging Shakespeare -11
DUNCAN SALKELD Shakespeare Staging Shakespeare Time and space in Shakespeare have always proved remarkably malleable. The name of the most famous Elizabethan theatre, The Globe, indicates that the early Shakespearean stages were mutable spaces capable of telescoping time and traversing the world. Precedent for extensive scenic flexibility could be found in plays by Marlowe and Greene, but Shakespeare, above all, assumed a free hand in adapting his source material to achieve extraordinarily varied and concentrated dramatic effects. We know that A Midsummer Night's Dream takes place over four days and nights, that Antony and Cleopatra has a time-span of ten years, and the action of The Tempest covers a single day. As for location, Pericles and Antony and Cleopatra shift between Mediterranean scenes while such plays as The Comedy of Errors, Much Ado About Nothing, The Merry Wives of Windsor and Twelfth Night are confined to a single city or locality. Shakespeare, more than any of his contemporaries, stretched or broke those 'classical unities' of time and place that critics, including Lodovico Castelvetro (1576) and Sir Philip Sidney (1582), had earnestly hoped to protect. A new scene for Shakespeare by no means necessitated new scenery, and his frequent interchange of character and location has always actively required imaginative participation from the audience. Mike Alfred's 2001 production of Cymbeline at the reconstructed Globe in London demonstrated this imaginative contract between audience and players to great effect. Performed by only six actors (the play has over 30 parts) all dressed in white...
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