Actions and Reactions



Because so much attention has been paid to individual parts in the tragedies, Shakespeare’s reliance on the interaction between the persons of a play has almost escaped attention. They speak to each other, obviously enough, but they interact across a much wider spectrum of responses than their words indicate. As these people move on stage, they react physically and instinctively to each other’s presence. Coming together, they can be in agreement or fierce opposition. They can enter on stage together and then leave separately, or the other way about. A vast range of actions and interactions are set in motion by the texts and arise almost without premeditation during performance. Just as naturally, an audience responds to this ever-changing show. If the actors’ parts in the comedies had been considered, these processes could not have been missed, for in these plays location and mood shift frequently and the grouping of figures is constantly changing to reveal further possibilities inherent in their basic relationships and individual resources and qualities.


Theatrical Event Play Location Physical Language Mood Shift Shakespeare Play 
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  1. 1.
    Gordon Craig, On the Art of the Theatre (London: Heinemann, 1911; ed. 1957), p. 21.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Antonin Artaud, Collected Works, vol. ii, trans. Alastair Hamilton (London: Calder and Boyars, 1972), pp. 160, 165–6; these ideas recur repeatedly in his writings.Google Scholar

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© John Russell Brown 2002

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