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Double Shakespeares

Emotional-Realist Acting and Contemporary Performance

Cary M. Mazer

Double Shakespeares examines contemporary performances of Shakespeare plays that employ the “emotional realist” traditions of acting that were codified by Stanislavski over a century ago. These performances recognize the inescapable doubleness of realism: that the actor may aspire to be the character but can never fully do so. This doubleness troubled the late-nineteenth-century actors and theorists who first formulated realist modes of acting; and it equally troubles theorists and theatre practitioners today. The book first looks at contemporary performances that foreground the doubleness of the actor’s body, particularly through cross-dressing. It then examines narratives of Shakespearean rehearsal—both fictional representations of rehearsal in film and video, and eye-witness narratives of actual rehearsals—and how they show us the process by which the actor does or does not “become” the character. And, finally, it looks at modern performances that “frame” Shakespeare’s play as a play-within-a-play, showing the audience both the character in the Shakespeare play-within and the actor in the frame-play acting that character. « less more »
University Press Copublishing Division / Fairleigh Dickinson University Press
Pages: 200Size: 6 x 9
978-1-61147-843-3 • Hardback • September 2015 • $70.00 • (£47.95)
978-1-61147-845-7 • Paperback • March 2017 • $42.99 • (£29.95)
978-1-61147-844-0 • eBook • September 2015 • $39.99 • (£24.95)
Cary M. Mazer is associate professor of theatre arts and English at the University of Pennsylvania, where for many years he chaired the undergraduate Theatre Arts Program. He is author of Shakespeare Refashioned: Elizabethan Plays on Edwardian Stages and editor of volume 15 of Great Shakespeareans: Poel, Granville Barker, Guthrie, Wanamaker.
List of Illustrations
Introduction: The Anxiety of Identity

Part One: Doubleness
Chapter One: Double Selves
Chapter Two: Undoubling and Redoubling
Chapter Three: Double Bodies

Part Two: Double Narratives
Chapter Four: Double Fictions
Chapter Five: Double Memoirs

Part Three: Double Plays
Chapter Six: Frames
Chapter Seven: Three Scripts, Three Productions, Six Plays

“Wounds Invisible”: An Epilogue
About the Author
Cary Mazer’s book argues that, for more than a century, techniques of emotional realism have inexorably influenced the way actors on both sides of the Atlantic have approached Shakespearean acting, and the ways audiences have received it. As such, this phenomenon is worth examining, which Mazer does in this insightful book.... Mazer brings the important voice of a scholar-practitioner to the subject: insights gleaned from his own work in the theatre spur some of the book’s best arguments.... The book’s key insight...is that empathy—the ability for characters and actors and audiences to understand each other—is paramount to successful Shakespearean theatre, and that such empathy is the link between early modern scripts and contemporary performance. That he comes to this insight through experience is in and of itself an important revelation of this thought-provoking book on the practices of today’s Shakespearean theatre.
Theatre Survey

Mazer's applause for Declan Donellan's approach...encapsulates the book's project.... Mazer pursues this and related ideas through an impressive and stimulating range of examples.
Shakespeare Survey