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Shakespeare, Spectatorship and the Technologies of Performance


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  • Date Published: August 2022
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108430357

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About the Authors
  • Shakespeare, Spectatorship and the Technologies of Performance examines how rapid changes in performance technologies affect modes of spectatorship for early modern drama. It argues that seemingly disparate developments – such as the revival of early modern architectural and lighting technologies, digital performance technologies and the hybrid medium of theatre broadcast – are fundamentally related. How spectators experience performances is not only affected in medium-specific ways by particular technologies, but is also connected to the plays' roots in early modern performance environments. Aebischer's examples range from the use of candlelight and re-imagined early modern architecture, to set design, performance capture technologies, digital video, social media, hologram projection, biotechnologies and theatre broadcasts. This book argues that digital and analogue performance technologies alike activate modes of ethical spectatorship, requiring audiences to adopt an ethical standpoint as they decide how to look, where to look, what medium to look through, and how to take responsibility for looking.

    • Provides a framework for thinking about spectatorship of Shakespearean and early modern drama in relation to performance technologies
    • Connects present-day developments in performance media and technologies to early modern performance practices and offers a theoretical framework that stresses continuity, illustrated with photographs of productions
    • Demonstrates through in-depth case studies the ways in which the different technologies used in the performance of early modern drama today are connected while also paying attention to media specificity
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    • Winner, 2022 David Bradby Award, TaPRA

    Reviews & endorsements

    'This is a brilliant, timely and provocative work of criticism, and a delight to read. Pascale Aebischer is leading the conversation in this field, and she continues to blaze a trail for the rest of us. This book is exemplary performance scholarship: rigorously argued and theoretically-informed, yet written with such a readable style and attention to detail that the performances described really come alive in the mind of the reader.' Stephen Purcell, University of Warwick

    '… this book presents an exciting frame that could be applied to many others.' William N. West, SEL Studies in English Literature 1500–1900

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2022
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108430357
    • length: 258 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 150 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.38kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction. Shakespeare, spectatorship and technologies of performance
    Part I. Candlelight and Architecture at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse:
    1. Dominic Dromgoole's The Changeling (2015): social division and anamorphic vision
    2. Dominic Dromgoole's The Tempest (2016): labour, technology and the gender of theatrical magic
    Part II. Digital Technologies and Early Modern Drama at the National Theatre and the RSC:
    3. Stanislavski in the closet: Joe Hill-Gibbins' Edward II (National Theatre, 2013)
    4. 'Tech-enabled' theatre at the RSC: digital performance and Gregory Doran's Tempest (RSC, 2016)
    Part III. 'Invisible' Technology and 'Liveness' in Digital Theatre Broadcasting:
    5. Hamlet in parts: Robin Lough's RSC live cinema broadcast of Simon Godwin's Hamlet (8 June 2016)
    6. Offstage dynamics and the virtual public sphere in Cheek by Jowl's live stream of Measure for Measure (2015)
    Concluding most obscenely: offstage technophelias.

  • Author

    Pascale Aebischer, University of Exeter
    Pascale Aebischer is Professor of Shakespeare and Early Modern Performance Studies at the University of Exeter. She is the author of Shakespeare's Violated Bodies (2004), Jacobean Drama (2010), and Screening Early Modern Drama (2013). Formerly the editor of Shakespeare Bulletin, she has also co-edited several collections of essays, including Performing Early Modern Drama Today (with Kathryn Prince, 2012; Choice Outstanding Academic Title winner 2013), and Shakespeare and the 'Live' Theatre Broadcast Experience (with Susanne Greenhalgh and Laurie Osborne, 2018).


    • Winner, 2022 David Bradby Award, TaPRA

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