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Terence Hawkes, Christopher Norris and Jacqueline Rose show how the attempts of some influential Shakespeare critics to reduce the plays to coherent unified structures break down as the gaps and contradictions of the texts are carried over by an uncanny transfer to their own interpretations.

But he is uneasily aware that current deconstruction may end up by reinforcing the traditional Shakespeare myth. To celebrate these plays for their potential for producing an infinite play of meanings is effectively to agree that they are great because completely all-inclusive: from transcendental signified to transcendental signifier. There is some overlap here with the first part of Political Shakespeare PS , whose editors contribute the concluding essays of the Methuen volume. In his introduction to Political Shakespeare , Jonathan Dollimore analyses a tripartite pattern in ideological conflicts of consolidation, subversion and containment.

In certain circumstances, drama may subvert the ruling ideology, but the probability is that these challenges will eventually serve to legitimate the power structure, with the theatre functioning as no more than a safety-valve. Greenblatt applies this model of subversion as consolidation to a reading of the second tetralogy, and his analysis is echoed by several contributors to both volumes, who reject both the Tillyardian reading and its liberal inversion.

A similar pattern of subversion and ultimate containment is found in the comedies. Political Shakespeare ends with a series of essays by Alan Sinfield, Graham Holderness and Margot Heinemann which analyse the propagation of the Shakespeare myth in modern Britain in the theatre, the cinema, television and the schools. The gradual replacement in all these areas of the old stiffly patriotic Shakespeare by a more liberal version may seem to have been a gain: but it is argued here that the effect is more often simply to depoliticise literary studies altogether.

Sinfield is so disenchanted with literary education that he can offer only purely negative reasons why anyone should want to read or teach Shakespeare: the Right do it so the Left must do it too. Unfortunately this rationale may be a shaky one given that some sections of the Right are starting to attack literary education as giving the lower orders ideas above their station. The problems of subversion and containment are raised again in the rather few essays that adopt a feminist perspective. The critique of the quest for objective interpretation is thus linked with a critique of sexism.

Her essay is a reminder that although literary studies are conventionally supposed to enlarge the imagination, critics have in practice found it extremely difficult to imagine the response of spectators who might not share their conservative view of sexual politics. Some readers will doubtless protest at these attempts to bring politics and theory into the hallowed sanctuary of Shakespeare studies, but both volumes make it clear enough that the politics and the theory are already there, embodied in critical assumptions and institutionalised in examination questions.

The new theorists marshal a formidable variety of sophisticated methodologies to refute the arguments of Eliot or Leavis but do not always seem aware that Shakespeare studies have changed since their time. Thus although both books are marketed as the very last word in daring, innovative ideas, fostering the current cult of built-in obsolescence in critical approaches, they are not always as innovative as they seem.

Shakespeare's Trollop

The readings of the second tetralogy here on offer do not differ markedly from an emerging critical consensus. Both books consistently attack bourgeois notions of the stable text but give the impression that the Arden or Alexander texts definitively established an eternally valid version of Shakespeare. The treatment of Shakespeare the man is a striking instance of the combination of novelty and received ideas in these books. But the latter point is hard to separate from the historical premise, for it is clear that the contributors do have strong assumptions about Shakespeare the man.

These assumptions are not really radical and subversive. But the reaction tends to reinforce, from a slightly different angle, what has become a commonplace of Shakespeare criticism since the Romantic era: that there is a huge gulf between the relatively humble grammar-school boy from Stratford and the infinite complexity of the plays he wrote.

From Keats to Borges, the notion has gained ground that Shakespeare was a chameleon, lacking any positive identity and taking on colouring passively from the dominant artistic and intellectual currents of the age: the antitype of Milton the artist with a coherent political vision. In the case of Shakespeare, it is in fact superfluous to proclaim the death of the author: he is already dead. His new collection of essays, Shakespeare and Others , still lays the emphasis on Shakespeare the middlebrow practical man. Recent scholarship has in fact been questioning the traditional image of Shakespeare in a number of ways.

To situate him in his age may be precisely to understand why his ideas seem to go beyond that age. He may indeed have had some conscious, and not necessarily impartial, political intentions; and they may not be wholly irrecoverable. If we attribute to Shakespeare a certain measure of sophisticated historical consciousness, it becomes necessary to ask whether this may not have been reflected in the staging of his plays. In his valuable collection of Illustrations of the English Stage , R. Brecht tried to be a little more specific in his Shakespeare productions; perhaps Shakespeare did too.

By experimenting with a variety of teaching methods, this project will establish a pedagogy for the teaching of OP to actors. This will be achieved by developing teaching materials and a methodology for their use in the rehearsal or workshop. This project will test and review the effectiveness of several types of orthography in order to determine what is the best method of communicating the pronunciation to the actor.

This thesis will suggest that, not only might OP be taught as an accent in the workshop, but also it might operate as an accent in performance. For example, future research might focus on the possibility of teaching the pronunciation aurally, using a regular script, without the use of phonetics or other specialist symbols.

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This project does not attempt to engage with the audience, as the research focused on pedagogy and was conducted in the workshop setting, rather than in performance. Future research might focus on the effects of OP on an audience. In terms of the effects of the reconstruction on the effectiveness of the language, there is a need for more experimentation in order to discover previously unknown rhymes, word play and potential repairs to irregularities in the metre which can only be revealed by language restoration.

Anomalies in rhythm and metre may arise over time as a result of language change. Use of OP potentially remedies these anomalies as well as revealing word-play which is concealed by modern pronunciations. One further significant area of future exploration would involve determining whether there is a link between the acceptability of OP as a performance medium and the normal style of stage pronunciation of a given period. The Structure of the Thesis The thesis moves from the rationale for performing in OP, through a review of the historical and recent Shakespearean OP productions, to a summary of research carried out in a workshop setting, via a critical review of the phonological sources, an assessment of the linguistic situation and the presentation of a transcription policy.

Chapter 3 constitutes a review of the few productions which have been staged in OP over the last century. It is important that contemporary OP productions should embrace the good practice developed in these early performances. This chapter includes an account of the discovery, during the course of research for this project, of two previously unknown OP productions at the Mermaid Theatre.

The linguistic evidence is distilled in Chapter 5 and a transcription policy is presented. This policy is designed to be used by drama teachers, voice coaches and possibly directors who are interested in staging OP performances of Shakespeare. This original contribution, which has been tested and refined in the rehearsal room, empowers the theatre professional to embark on an OP production without the need to spend months, or even years, searching the literature for references to Elizabethan pronunciations and interpreting the many variables.

In addition to the element of scholarship involved, a significant research strand necessitated the examination of large quantities of Shakespearean text to determine which of the variations in pronunciation might have been used in a particular context. The workshops involved students and professional actors with no previous experience of working with OP. Several ways of presenting the text, with and without phonetic symbols, were trialled and a number of different teaching styles and techniques employed.

Workshop 5, for young professional actors, is taken as a case study and a thorough assessment is given of the workshop structure, pedagogy and materials used. In this respect, it is analogous to the transfer of other cultural elements, such as costume, and practices, such as gesture and blocking. The pronunciation may work with other elements or may function independently of them.

Pavis views the source and target culture as two opposing poles like the bulbs of an hourglass.

Account Options

The source culture or elements of it is filtered towards the target culture. Practitioners will choose to place their production somewhere on the scale between the two poles. This is not the case; it is a question of degrees. These are explored below.


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Even if the reconstruction were wholly accurate, the audience would still be listening to and interpreting the language with twentieth-century ears. Adaptation may constitute a part of the cultural filtering process. This type of filtering might involve the rewriting of a script to increase its relevance to the target culture.

In this case the source and target were only half a century apart. Keenan draws an analogy between performing historical drama and producing intercultural theatre; our modern culture is radically different from that of the Elizabethan or Stuart eras.

Terence Hawkes

In the former, cultural i. Similar considerations may apply to performance traditions, which may cause a gradual change in production methods and values over a number of years. In the theatre, changes in acting style may result from the increasing remoteness of the stage from the audience, greater efficiency in lighting technology, increases in the auditorium size or an audience which is all seated and indoors. The very fact that language is both an oral and aural experience is important to the understanding of how OP can work in performance. In psychological terms, an audience experiencing a production in period costume would consciously relate what they see to a given historical period and would make judgements about period and status based upon the visual element and their own experience.

The audience response to language would be markedly different. They would find it difficult to pigeon-hole the pronunciation and might recognise that it does not conform exactly to any modern regional accent. Audience members for whom English is a first language might easily understand the accent; those of other ethnic origins and with less experience of language varieties might initially find it a little more difficult to accommodate their ears to the sounds of OP.

This represents a significant number from English-speaking countries, although the survey does not reveal how many of these residents might have a first language other than English.


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Of the high proportion of British residents one would expect to find some who were from the European Union, perhaps working in the country on a temporary basis. This group would not necessarily have English as a first language. This survey has limitations as only those who book in advance on line have been sampled.

It is possible that overseas bookers may be more likely to book at the box office on the day of the performance and any analysis of these statistics should take this into account.

Sexuality in the reading of Shakespeare: Hamlet and Measure For Measure

The filters are created by the target culture and the audience. However, in OP there is much commonality of culture in the language of source and target. Additionally, the audience has experience of many of the sounds of the source culture in certain modern contexts. This chapter will rationalise the performance of Shakespeare in OP by examining the way in which modern productions might be informed by other related fields of HIP.

Additionally, I will discuss how OP performance might follow in the recently established tradition of accented Shakespeare, and I will look at how it might easily form an extension of the sort of work that Shakespearean voice coaches already undertake. I will use the term historically informed performance to indicate the research and employment of past performance practices and circumstances in order to enhance modern practice.

I have chosen this term as it adequately describes the dual process of researching the pronunciation historical information and applying it performance that are necessary when attempting to use OP as a technique in the modern theatre. The term was originally used in the field of music to describe the adoption of historical instrumental techniques or practices such as original lute tunings and ornamentation which were performed on original or reconstructed period instruments.

The practice of HIP embraces a variety of art forms, including music, dance and drama. From then, the idea gained momentum until the early music movement began to flourish in the late s. We can only guess at what his intentions might have been. I suggest that performing in OP parallels other HIP practice in that it draws on scholarship and historical practice as a means of informing and enhancing modern practice.

In the realisation was performed and recorded in Vienna, a performance which included Harnoncourt on the gamba. It is not possible to recreate an audience from a point in history. You can't walk fast at all. It is not possible to apply the same criteria one would with a modern text, where the playwright may be the sole creator and the written text is often very close to the performance text.

He supports his argument by referring to the cuts evident in contemporary prompt books and the fact that most Shakespeare plays are too long for the two to two and a half hours generally accepted as the running time. Shakespeare, as an actor, knew that his texts would be cut for performance and I suggest that the fuller, published texts were literary, rather than dramatic works, written with the reader in mind. Material cut for the stage, therefore, is not necessary for dramatic performance but is certainly relevant for a literary reading.

What is significant is that as Shakespeare was closely involved in the rehearsal process himself, unlike many other authors, he is more likely than most to have had a hand in the shaping of the acting text.