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Shakespeare's Double Plays
Dramatic Economy on the Early Modern Stage


  • Date Published: June 2022
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108405010

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About the Authors
  • In the first comprehensive study of how Shakespeare designed his plays to suit his playing company, Brett Gamboa demonstrates how Shakespeare turned his limitations to creative advantage, and how doubling roles suited his unique sense of the dramatic. By attending closely to their dramaturgical structures, Gamboa analyses casting requirements for the plays Shakespeare wrote for the company between 1594 and 1610, and describes how using the embedded casting patterns can enhance their thematic and theatrical potential. Drawing on historical records, dramatic theory, and contemporary performance this innovative work questions received ideas about early modern staging and provides scholars and contemporary theatre practitioners with a valuable guide to understanding how casting can help facilitate audience engagement. Supported by an appendix of speculative doubling charts for plays, illustrations, and online resources, this is a major contribution to the understanding of Shakespeare's dramatic craft.

    • Presents a new theory about how Shakespeare designed plays for his original company, and the way the company casted and performed those plays
    • Includes speculative casting charts for all Shakespeare's plays written for his company (c.1594–1610), that have significant implications for modern productions
    • Explores the idea of the boy actor in considerable detail, making a more detailed and diverse argument for these boys being older than is commonly supposed
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'With its entirely new sense of Shakespeare's combined poetic and practical craft, this bold and elegant book has far-reaching consequences for the worlds of performance, editing and interpretation.' Tiffany Stern, Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham

    'Brett Gamboa's book represents a highly original contribution to the study of Shakespeare's working practices which challenges orthodox views on the casting of his plays in early performance. The work of a scholar who is also a practitioner, it demands to be considered by anyone with an interest in Shakespeare's dramatic craftsmanship.' Sir Stanley Wells, CBE, FRSL, Honorary President, The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

    'Brett Gamboa's Shakespeare's Double Plays investigates this now-taken-for-granted aspect of Shakespearean dramaturgy with fresh eyes.' Colin S. MacDonald, The Times Literary Supplement

    'Shakespeare's Double Plays is essential reading for scholars and students of theater history and early modern performance … Gamboa has written an important book for theater historians, students of theater, actors, and directors.' Farah Karim-Cooper, Renaissance Quarterly

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2022
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108405010
    • length: 301 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 150 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.45kg
    • contains: 10 b/w illus. 40 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. 'Improbable fictions': Shakespeare's plays without the plays
    2. Versatility and verisimilitude on sixteenth-century stages
    3. Doubling in The Winter's Tale
    4. Dramaturgical directives and Shakespeare's cast size
    5. Doubling in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Romeo and Juliet
    6. 'What, are they children?': Reconsidering Shakespeare's boy actors
    7. Doubling in Twelfth Night and Othello
    Epilogue: ragozine and Shakespearean substitution
    Appendix: doubling roles in Shakespeare's plays.

  • Resources for

    Shakespeare's Double Plays

    Brett Gamboa

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  • Author

    Brett Gamboa, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire
    Brett Gamboa is Assistant Professor of English at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University, Massachusetts. His teaching and research focus on Shakespeare's plays in performance, although he teaches courses that explore a range of artistic media, from lyric poetry to contemporary television. His essays and reviews on Shakespeare and other dramatists appear in several journals and books, and he has published performance-oriented introductions and commentaries for the forty plays collected in The Norton Shakespeare. Gamboa's scholarship is informed by his work as a theatre director, having mounted productions for professional companies and on campuses, including ten plays by Shakespeare.

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