Between Shakespeare’s time and our own, theatre has changed in many ways, in the composition and behaviour of audiences and in the setting and staging of plays. Among these changes, although not always obvious, the degree of improvisation used by actors and stage technicians has been a major influence on the staging and reception of Shakespeare’s plays. Today, productions are carefully prepared to ensure that one chosen interpretation of the text is expressed throughout the actors’ performances and in the play’s setting and technical support. The aim is to give the strongest possible effect to each distinctive production. The public benefits from this in that, having a good idea of what they will see from pre-publicity and journalistic reviews, they can choose what they pay for. Successful producers are able to offer the same production, essentially unchanged, over a period of many months and sometimes several years.


Theatrical Event Theatre Company Short Speech Scenic Effect Tennis Tournament 
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  1. 1.
    See Gerry McCarthy’s Molière’s Theatres (London and New York: Routledge, 2002), pp. 36–40, for an account of how the Italians were received in Paris and their influence on Molière.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Antonin Artaud, Collected Works, trans. Alastair Hamilton, vol. 3 (London: Calder & Boyars, 1972), p. 211.Google Scholar

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© John Russell Brown 2002

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