Globe Audiences: Spectatorship and Reconstruction at Shakespeareʼs Globe
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This thesis uses evidence gathered from conversations with audiences carried out before and after performances at Shakespeare’s Globe 2009-10, and contextualized through interviews with performers and creatives, archival data and critical scholarship to establish new understandings of current spectatorship at the Globe Theatre. This exploratory and inductive research into current audiences at the reconstructed Globe establishes new areas of inquiry for both current and early modern audience research. In cultural terms the position of Shakespeare's Globe is contested, it is read and used (sometimes simultaneously) by audiences as: theatre, tourist site, reconstruction and experiment. In academic terms the reconstruction is also contested, for its capacity to uncover new insights into early modern performance and reception or not. The significance of the physical conditions of performance and reception at the Globe, being a shared-lighting performance space, almost in-the-round, open-air and seasonal, are made apparent through reconstruction. These material and cultural conditions combine to produce a porous and contingent site of interaction between performer, building, weather, play and audience. These conditions alter and subvert current norms of audience passivity and quiescence today and illuminate new areas of consideration in early modern audience research. The four chapters of this thesis use four Shakespeare’s Globe productions as case studies: Chapter 1 draws on Troilus and Cressida (dir. Dunster, 2009) to consider issues of history and space for audiences; Chapter 2 considers Romeo and Juliet (dir. Dromgoole, 2009) and the place of audience work in performance; Chapter 3 takes Macbeth (dir. Bailey, 2010) to examine the production of illusion and audience affect, and Chapter 4 employs The Frontline (dir. Dunster, 2009) in a consideration of community-formation amongst audience. Themes of intimacy, hospitality, antagonism, the face-to-face encounter and laughter comprise sites of sustained critical concern with current spectatorship throughout the thesis. These areas receive some consideration in relationship to evidence of early modern spectatorship from plays and other primary sources.
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