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Elizabethan Stage Conventions and Modern Interpreters

  • Date Published: March 1986
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521311618


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About the Authors
  • Alan Dessen samples about four hundred manuscripts and printed plays to record the original staging conventions of the age of Shakespeare. After studying the stage properties, movements and configurations implicit in recurrent phrases and stage directions, he concludes that Elizabethan spectators, less concerned with realism than later generations, were used to receiving a kind of theatrical shorthand transmitted by the actors from the playwright. Professor Dessen both describes this shorthand (e.g. the use of nightgowns, boots and dishevelled hair) and draws attention to the implications of his findings for modern interpreters, addressing not only critics and teachers but also editors, actors and directors.

    Reviews & endorsements

    'The work makes a useful contribution to both theatre history and dramatic criticism … Dessen's kind of analysis offers an escape from the straitjacket of character criticism in particular for it will encourage the study of scenic form and thereby make students aware of all that is not 'personality'.' The Times Higher Education Supplement

    ' … presented with vigorous clarity, his experience of modern productions demonstrates his concern with the continuing stage life of the plays he discusses.' The Times Literary Supplement

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 1986
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521311618
    • length: 204 pages
    • dimensions: 216 x 138 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.265kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Note on texts and old spelling
    1. The arrow in Nessus: Elizabethan clues and modern detectives
    2. Interpreting stage directions
    3. The logic of 'this' on the open stage
    4. Elizabethan darkness and modern lighting
    5. The logic of 'place' and locale
    6. The logic of stage violence
    7. Theatrical metaphor: seeing and not-seeing
    8. Conclusion: Elizabethan playscripts and modern interpreters
    List of plays and editions

  • Author

    Alan C. Dessen

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