This is the only modern stage-history of its kind, and a book for every Shakespeare-lover. It tells the story of the plays on the English stage - four hundred years of dramatic history, from the vital, competitive theatre of Shakespeare's own lifetime to the wealth of interpretations, classical to experimental, of the present day. It is a story of constant rediscovery, as the fashions, intuitions, and politics of each age reinterpreted the plays' meanings - and often even their plots. Actresses stepped into the female roles written originally for boy-actors; and the theatre evolved, from open-air Elizabethan stages like the Rose and Globe to the proscenium theatre, grand spectacle, and the whole panoply of modern lighting and staging equipment. Generous space is given to the great figures of twentieth-century theatre - Donald Wolfit, Lilian Baylis, John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier, Peggy Ashcroft, Ralph Richardson, Tyrone Guthrie, Peter Brook - and to the companies and actor- directors of today, from Cheek by Jowl and the Royal Shakespeare Company to Michael Bogdanov and Kenneth Branagh.
A special chapter by Dame Judi Dench provides a unique actor's perspective; and the book comes right up to date with accounts of contemporary directors' theatre, including productions by Michael Bogdanov, Deborah Warner, and Sam Mendes. Over a hundred illustrations, and a large cast of actors, audiences, and reviewers, bring to life the key productions and developments described in each chapter, in a dramatic story which is at once history, tragedy, and comedy! Contributors...Jonathan Bate (ed.) Anthony Davies, Victoria College, St Helier Dame Judi Dench, actress Michael Dobson, Assistant Professor of English, University of Chicago at Illinois Inga-Stina Ewbank, Professor of English, University of Leeds R. A. Foakes, University of California, Los Angeles Peter Holland, Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge Russell Jackson (ed.) Robert Smallwood, The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Peter Thomson, University of Exeter Martin Wiggins, The Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham This book is intended for theatre-goers; anyone interested in Shakespeare, Shakespearian drama and its stage history.