Study and Criticism



Trying to understanding how Shakespeare’s plays function in a theatrical event is an undertaking that will never be complete.1 All the difficulties experienced by a reader are met in greater force when setting out to discover what is dominant or constant in a play’s theatrical life. As this study has shown, any one production is never the same as another because it relies on the presence and achievements of individual actors and the skills of managers, directors and designers. And the experience it gives is never easy to understand because it reflects the culture of the time and the response of each audience is influenced by the place and occasion of each performance. This ever-changing set of circumstances affects the presentation of speech, argument, narrative, and the persons of the play. Nothing exists in theatre except as a part of a re-creation of life that cannot be closely or permanently defined and is not limited in its effect to what can be readily described. It follows that any account of performance will have to be, in part at least, impressionistic and must draw upon a very personal response.


Original Production Theatrical Event Single Play Theatre Company Live Theatre 
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  1. 6.
    For example, Manfred Pfister, The Theory and Analysis of Drama (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Richard Schechner, Performance Theory, revised edition (London and New York: Routledge, 1992)Google Scholar
  3. Marvin Carlson, Performance: A Critical Introduction (London and New York: Routledge, 1996), and a book to which the present study is particularly indebtedGoogle Scholar
  4. Willmar Sauter, The Theatrical Event: Dynamics of Performance and Perception (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2000).Google Scholar

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© John Russell Brown 2002

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