This book assembles a cast of sixteen distinguished theater historians and performance critics, each of whom has contributed significantly to our understanding of issues associated with performing works of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Their essays, all appearing in print for the first time, are presented in two groupings: a theater history and practice section, in which contributors examine matters related to performance in Shakespeare's time and our own, and a performance criticism section, in which contributors treat modern productions on stage and screen. In the theater history and practice section, Roslyn L. Knutson explores the 1599-1600 repertory of the Admiral's Men and the Chamberlain's Men, who performed in rival playhouses. Jay L. Halio studies playbooks to see how successive generations of actor/managers and directors modified the Shakespearean "original" and how productions reflected such change. Alan C. Dessen investigates how scripted allusion and stage direction figure into patterns of production in the plays of Thomas Heywood.
Focusing on evidence in "A Warning for Fair Women", Andrew Gurr probes a playhouse practice of hanging the stage with black fabric to signal that the play was a tragedy. And Maurice Charney, engaging modern translations, delivers readers into the world of Shakespeare bardolatry. Variety defines the second section, which offers analyses of plays mediated by performance. Several essays focus on interpretive acts brought to particular scripts - "Timon of Athens", "King Lear", "The Taming of the Shrew", "A Midsummer Night's Dream", "The Merchant of Venice", "Hamlet", Philip Massinger's "The Roman Actor" - while others examine stage and screen adaptations and offshoots, such as Linda Mussmann's "M.A.C.B.E.T.H.", Rome Neal's "Julius Caesar Set in Africa", Gil Junger's film "10 Things I Hate About You", and Tim Blake Nelson's movie. Contributors to this section include John Timpane, Frances K. Barasch, Charles A. Hallett, Edward L. Rocklin, Michael D. Friedman, Naomi C. Liebler, Samuel Crowl, Kenneth S. Rothwell, J. Anthony Burton, Miranda Johnson-Haddad, and Alexander Leggatt.
Wide-ranging and evocative, "Acts of Criticism" is designed to stimulate further thought and to enhance understanding of how significant a presence the "abstract and brief chronicles" of performance has become on the current landscape of scholarly criticism.
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Fairleigh Dickinson University Press,U.S.
Publisher: Associated University Presses
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Author Biography - Paul Nelsen
Paul Nelsen is Professor of Theatre and Drama at Marlboro College. June Schlueter is Charles A. Dana Professor of English at Lafayette College.