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Sh@kespeare in the Media

From the Globe Theatre to the World Wide Web


Edited By Stefani Brusberg-Kiermeier and Jörg Helbig

This collection of critical essays and interviews gives an overview of the various kinds of medial manifestations which Shakespeare’s work has been transferred into over the centuries: into a theatrical performance, a printed text, a painting, an opera, an audio book, a film, a radio or television drama, a website. On the whole this overview also provides a history of the general development of Shakespearean media. Practitioners as well as scholars focus on the strengths and weaknesses, the possibilities and limitations of each medium with regard to the representation of Shakespeare’s work.


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Manfred Pfister (Berlin): "If music be the food of comedy": Screen music in recent film versions of Shakespearean comedy -153


MANFRED PFISTER "If music be the food of comedy..." Screen Music in Recent Film Versions of Shakespearean Comedy 1. What do Shakespeare's theatre and the film – be it silent or a talkie – have in common? There are many ready answers to this question: an audience and actors, for instance, or moving bodies and characters, actions and plots. But there is one answer that frequently escapes the attention of critics: music. Though Shakespeare critics and historians of Elizabethan theatre are aware of the importance of song and music in the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries and have filled reams of paper about it,81 students of Shakespeare on screen have managed to fill reams of paper about their subject without ever actually focusing on the music they hear while viewing Shakespearean films. Their music – be it the piano accompaniment to the early silent films or the more operatic scores of Shakespeare made in Hollywood82 – goes largely unnoticed. It is left to do its subtle and stealthy work upon our unconscious without affecting the critical awareness or is considered too trivial to merit critical attention.83 Or is it just another case of Keats' music on the "Grecian Urn": "Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard / Are sweeter"? 81 Among the more important contributions to this field of research are: Richard Noble, Shakespeare's Use of Song (Oxford, 1923); John H. Long, Shakespeare's Use of Music: A Study of […] Seven Comedies (Gainesville, 1955), Shakespeare's Use of Music: The Final Comedies (Gainesville, 1961)...

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