From the Globe Theatre to the World Wide Web
Edited By Stefani Brusberg-Kiermeier and Jörg Helbig
Stefani Brusberg-Kiermeier (Hildesheim): "'Tis the curse of service": The Royal Shakespeare Company - 21
STEFANI BRUSBERG-KIERMEIER "'TIS THE CURSE OF SERVICE": THE ROYAL SHAKESPEARE COMPANY Theatre is the medium that Shakespeare's works started from, and the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and its predecessor, the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, have had a long and important share in the history of Shakespeare in the theatre. The RSC is one of the most famous and prestigious theatre companies in the world and influential for the perception of Shakespeare's plays not only in Britain. The company is closely linked to the tourist trade in Stratford-upon-Avon and to education, especially through its archive at the Shakespeare Centre, where, a.o., prompt books and video recordings of the productions are being kept. Therefore, the work of the RSC can certainly be understood as one of "those institutional practices in which the cultural phenomenon of Shakespeare operates with some form of signifying power" (Holderness 2001, ix). This "curious phenomenon" (Holderness 2001, 9) can only be understood if its peculiar social status and its long and contradictory history are taken into account. Repeatedly theatre critics and scholars have constructed a gulf between Shakespeare scholarship and theatrical practice of Shakespeare drama, an opposition that makes little sense for the RSC, because its artistic directors have generally had a university background and an intimate relation with literary criticism. Since the RSC came into being, there have been periods of time when a parallel development in Shakespeare criticism and in the RSC has taken place, since much of the work done in both can be seen as...
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