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Local and Global Myths in Shakespearean Performance



This collection of scholarly essays offers a new understanding of local and global myths that have been constructed around Shakespeare in theatre, cinema, and television from the nineteenth century to the present. Drawing on a definition of myth as a powerful ideological narrative, Local and Global Myths in Shakespearean Performance examines historical, political, and cultural conditions of Shakespearean performances in Europe, Asia, and North and South America. The first part of this volume offers a theoretical introduction to Shakespeare as myth from a twenty-first century perspective. The second part critically evaluates myths of linguistic transcendence, authenticity, and universality within broader European, neo-liberal, and post-colonial contexts. The study of local identities and global icons in the third part uncovers dynamic relationships between regional, national, and transnational myths of Shakespeare. The fourth part revises persistent narratives concerning a political potential of Shakespeare’s plays in communist and post-communist countries. Finally, part five explores the influence of commercial and popular culture on Shakespeare myths. Michael Dobson’s Afterword concludes the volume by locating Shakespeare within classical mythology and contemporary concerns.
1© The Author(s) 2018
A. Mancewicz, A. A. Joubin (eds.), Local and Global Myths in
Shakespearean Performance, Reproducing Shakespeare,
AlexaAliceJoubin andAnetaMancewicz
Contradictory myths are the foundation to many conversations about
Shakespeare today. What makes Shakespeare widely “useful”—if not
appreciated—in so many different cultural contexts? Did Shakespeare’s
works go global because of their intrinsic aesthetic values, or are his works
demonstrably better than those of other nation’s poets by virtue of their
circulation? What values and ideas does Shakespeare’s cultural work sus-
tain or undermine?
Global ShakeSpeare aSMyth
Myths give the airy nothing of ideologies a local habitation. Criticism of
global Shakespeare over the past decade has considered at length what is
local, metropolitan, racialized, marketable, and cosmopolitan about per-
formances that pass through various historical, digital, and cultural
A. A. Joubin (*)
George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA
A. Mancewicz
University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
spaces (Orkin 2005; Massai 2006; Thompson 2013; Burnett 2013).
What is missing is theorization of the canon’s perceived mythical capac-
ity that fuels global circulations of Shakespeare. The phenomenon of
global Shakespeare is fuelled by the myth of the canon’s utilitarian value.
We can better grasp the signicance of global Shakespeare by under-
standing the cultural logic of the production and consumption of these
myths—often articulated in the form of journalistic adoration of univer-
sal aesthetics.
In Graham Holderness’s 1988 cultural materialist approach to the mak-
ing of one specic myth about Shakespeare—bardolatry and contested
biographies of the poet—he denes myth as a “real and powerful form of
human consciousness” rather than some “non-existent ideological
conjuring- trick.” Based on partial truths, myth is a particular narrative
structure serving a particular social function. He compares the gure of
Shakespeare to legendary “cultural heroes.” All societies, however they are
organized, have myths. Some myths share common structural characteris-
tics. In Holderness’s analysis of the factors that enabled the mythologiza-
tion of Shakespeare as a cultural hero, he observes that the mystery of
identity is in fact the primary catalyst of hagiographic narrative patterns:
the son of a Stratford glove maker becomes “England’s greatest poet.”
Folklore gures are often not the persons they appear to be. They derive
their mythical power from their hidden identity and parentage. Debates
about authorship further solidify the mythologized status of Shakespeare.
Holderness suggests that we are missing the point if we focus on veriable
evidence of Shakespeare’s biography. “Historical details were merely narra-
tive properties” that mythologize Shakespeare as a cultural hero. Holderness
argues that it is the “institutions of bardolatry and quasi- religious worship”
that are holding the Shakespeare myth in place (1988a, 10–11).
Nearly three decades after the publication of Holderness’s The
Shakespeare Myth, we are in need of a broader understanding of the
Shakespeare myth in transnational contexts and particularly in perfor-
mances. This volume takes up where Holderness left off. In her 1998
book, The Shakespeare Trade, Barbara Hodgdon started paying attention to
the “ideological contours of the Shakespeare myth” and the ways in which
this myth sustains “cultural consensus” (194). Following Holderness,
Hodgdon’s book attends to phenomena of collector’s fetishes. Amateur
and professional collectors are drawn to a range of representations of the
gure of Shakespeare, such as “Shakespeare kitsch” and mass market sou-
venirs. Twenty years on, at this point in history, “Shakespeare” is associated
not only with bardolatry and a national poet’s biography but also with
performances—the primary venue where the general public encounters
Shakespeare. Supporting these performances are liberal political ideologies
that work against bardolatry and yet condone other aspects of the
Shakespeare myth. When the myth of Shakespeare is mentioned, the focus
seems to be, even in 2009, still on the gure of Shakespeare rather than
larger performance cultures (Hackett 2009, 4–5). The current myth about
Shakespeare is global in nature, and it draws upon celebrity culture instead
of mystied biographies, and upon the cultural value of worldwide loca-
tions instead of just Stratford-upon-Avon. This collection offers new per-
spectives on materials that were not discussed in Holderness’s book,
notably, the wide range of uses of a global Shakespeare myth on stage and
on screen.
Useful here is Northrop Frye’s theory that myth consists of recogniz-
able types of story serving an aesthetic function, “a story in which some of
the chief characters are … beings larger in power than humanity.” He
further theorizes that this narrative is “very seldom located in [factual]
history” but is often used as “allegories of morality” (1961, 597 and 599).
Within the history of global performances of Shakespeare, the perceived
moral authority of the Shakespearean canon has led to an impression that
the works are both period specic and beyond history (“timeless”). The
works are seen to be able to empower individuals as well as threaten the
status quo.
For example, some sponsors and patrons were outraged by Gregg
Henry’s Trump-like Julius Caesar and Tina Benko’s Calpurnia with an
eastern European accent in Oskar Eustis’s production for Public Theatre
in NewYork (June 2017). Debates ensued on the roles of art and politics.
The mythical status of Shakespeare’s plays—namely, public investment in
this specic genre of ction—provoked strong reactions from all sides.
Delta Air Lines and Bank of America, two major corporate sponsors,
withdrew their support on account of what conservative news outlets and
some audiences deemed offensive. Some critics believed that Eustis’s pro-
duction promoted violence against politicians. This incident demon-
strates that the myth of Shakespeare’s moral authority has enabled
comparisons of characters and motifs in his plays to our contemporary
political gures. Indeed, throughout the 2016 US presidential cam-
paigns, critics from both camps drew comparisons between candidates
and Shakespearean characters ranging from Richard III to King Lear.
Increased awareness and scrutiny of Shakespeare’s power as motivational
material may be one reason why—despite the fact that Caesar has
historically been likened to multiple political leaders including Obama—
Public Theatre’s production became a lightning rod. Censorship of this
particular production of Julius Caesar reveals more about corporate
America’s anxiety about free speech and the mythical power of the play
than about the ability of the performance to incite violence or even politi-
cal assassination.
Julius Caesar holds a special place in American and world politics. The
play is frequently taught in American public schools and, in other instances,
the play has been used to discuss republicanism. John Wilkes Booth is
notorious for having performed in Julius Caesar in New York shortly
before he assassinated Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theater in Washington,
DC, during a performance of Tom Taylor’s farce Our American Cousin.
The incident itself has been mythologized, linking the power of art to
political power.
Contemporary myths about Shakespeare have been jointly created by
educators, scholars, practitioners, administrators, funders, artists, specta-
tors, and readers. The myth of universality is built upon a discursive move
that presupposes unchanging meanings of the same story to different cul-
tures, an assumption that the plays are always locally relevant in the same
way in aesthetic, moral, and political terms. The idea of universality is
often backed by statistics (as many things are now) and not just literary
merits. The 2012 World Shakespeare Festival, part of the Cultural
Olympiad, featured 69 international productions, 263 amateur shows, 28
digital commissions and lms throughout the UK.The Royal Shakespeare
Company, the principal organizer, claimed that the festival reached “more
than 1.8 million people” (2016). Shakespeare’s name itself has been used
to signify high culture. In Taipei, Taiwan, there is a luxury apartment
complex named after Shakespeare. In Beijing, an English language school
is named Shakespeare, with “to be or not to be” as their slogan. There are
also bridal shops and wedding services throughout East Asia named
Shakespeare. In Anglophone countries, politicians quote Shakespeare as if
it were a gentleman’s calling card.
More recently, 2016 saw an unprecedented number of commemorative
activities across the globe to mark the quartercentenary of Shakespeare’s
death. The signicance of the year 2016 has inspired projects that are
dedicated solely to activities during that year, including the London-
centric Shakespeare400, a consortium of performances, exhibitions, and
events coordinated by King’s College London to mark the 400th anniver-
sary of Shakespeare’s death, and the more globally minded Performance
Shakespeare 2016, a digital project to capture performances of Shakespeare
worldwide from January 1 to December 31, 2016. Oxford University
Press reissued Israel Gollancz’s A Book of Homage to Shakespeare (origi-
nally published on April 23, 1916), edited and introduced by Gordon
McMullan, on the occasion of the 2016 centenary. Gollancz appealed to
“Shakespeare’s own kindred, whatsoe’er their speech,” suggesting that
Shakespeare, in 1916, was both a poet of British Empire and a playwright
of the world despite the changing global order.
To put the 2016 festivities around Shakespeare in context, it is useful to
recall that 2016 marks the 500th anniversary of Thomas More’s Utopia,
but there were no large-scale international commemorative events. King’s
College London hosted a small exhibition, which made reference to most
people’s selective attentiveness to Shakespeare and not other writers.
There are exceptions, though. Fuelled by the global Shakespeare myth,
2016 as a landmark year not only brought the Shakespearean canon into
the public consciousness but also enabled the mythologization of other
cultural gures, including Tang Xianzu and Cervantes, both of whom
passed away in the same year as Shakespeare, 1616. Without an ideological
investment in the myth about Shakespeare, the anniversaries of Tang and
Cervantes most likely would not have received any attention outside of
select local communities such as Linchuan in China’s Jiangxi province, the
birthplace of Tang. Both Tang and Shakespeare have a special place within
their national literary histories. Their names are evoked in festival plan-
ners’ coordinated efforts to construct dreams about cultural and literary
universalism in a post-national space. These dreams are based on com-
modied, cosmopolitan commemoration (Joubin 2017). The myth of
Shakespeare is used by the Chinese embassy in the UK to generate visions
of a global Tang Xianzu and simultaneously cement a well-established
imaginary of a global Shakespeare. Festival planners in 2016 did not ques-
tion the valence of comparison between the two playwrights. The coinci-
dental effort to commemorate the playwrights and their cultures is a
manifestation of a current consensus that exists in the UK and China
about the economic utility of soft power. Shakespeare-inspired events
around the world suggest that Shakespeare functions as the spokesperson
for humanity and liaison for cultural diplomacy.
Some Shakespearean plays, such as Hamlet, have always already begun
even before the curtain is raised. In Dominic Dromgoole’s Hamlet Globe
to Globe, which chronicles the tour of his production to 197 countries in
two years, the former artistic director of the London Globe admits that he
and his crew “were circling around and always return[ed] to Hamlet,”
because of “the protean nature of the text” and the “kaleidoscope of pos-
sible responses to the play.” In Dromgoole’s view, these features made
Hamlet a suitable choice for a worldwide tour (2017, 14). Among the
most important organizing principles and unspoken assumptions about
Shakespeare’s naturalized global appeal is the myth of Shakespeare’s uni-
versal moral and aesthetic values. The assumption here is not that Hamlet
would carry the same dramaturgical and social meanings around the
world, but rather that the play—despite its bare-bones staging—would
hold audiences’ interest as the troupe toured through six continents and
played to spectators in refugee camps, formal venues, and village squares.
The investment not only in the universality of Shakespeare but particularly
in Hamlet calls to mind Laura Bohannan’s 1966 essay “Shakespeare in the
Bush” in which the anthropologist reected on her erroneous assumption
that Hamlet had one “universally obvious” interpretation as she told the
plot to elders of the Tiv tribe in West Africa (1966, 24). The essay docu-
ments various points of difference in moral worldviews between the Tiv
and Bohannan’s mid-twentieth-century American society.
It is neither possible nor desirable to debunk the myth. Rather, in this
book, we seek to understand the foundation and operating principles of
such myths. Similar to racial stereotypes, myths offer half-truths. Our task
is to reveal the construction of ideas that enable Shakespeare’s global sta-
tus. Case studies in this volume decode the obscure content of the myth
while highlighting tactical uses of it. We trace common patterns in several
performance traditions and observe the uses to which Shakespeare has
been put to. At the same time, the editors and contributors are keenly
aware of our own subject position, as Michael Dobson astutely observes in
his Afterword to this volume. While critics might fantasize about intellec-
tual independence from institutionalized mystication, few would “bite
the hands” which feed the “Shakespeare cult’s paid-up intellectuals.” After
all, donations, fees paid to, and grants received from the Folger Library,
the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, and London’s Globe keep the
Shakespeare industry alive.
Two approaches are particularly conspicuous in the application of the
global as a myth to Shakespearean performances: the construction of
Shakespeare as a cosmopolitan brand and as an aggregate of overlapping
localities—the notion that Shakespeare is everywhere in all localities.
First, in the UK, Shakespeare as a locally manufactured global brand has
helped major festivals market both national pride and palatable multicul-
turalism simultaneously. The 2006 Royal Shakespeare Company Complete
Works Festival, the 2012 World Shakespeare Festival, successive Globe-to-
Globe seasons, and other similarly structured festivals including the
Edinburgh International Festival and the Barbican International Theatre
Events regularly pitch Shakespeare as global celebrity against Shakespeare
as national poet. The myth of Shakespeare’s currency has turned global
Shakespeare into a business model.
Secondly, Shakespeare is associated with select historical sites and imag-
inary sites of origin that still hold sway. The playing spaces he was afliated
with are seen as sacred, hence the nancial and intellectual investment in
reconstructing Shakespeare’s Globe in London near its original site and
Elsinore, “Hamlet’s castle” in Denmark, as a tourist destination. The his-
tory of the London Globe has been well documented and I will not bela-
bour the point about its cultural signicance. Denmark’s Elsinore,
Kronborg Castle (2017), has been marketed as Hamlet’s castle (“Home of
Hamlet” is its tagline on the ofcial website).1 The Danish entrepreneurs
who publicize it under the Elizabeth English spelling used by Shakespeare
actively discourage modern editors of Shakespeare’s play from updating
the castle’s name to its Danish form, Helsingör, fearing the possible eco-
nomic consequences of the disappearance of its customary trade-name
from Shakespeare’s pages. The castle proactively invites and hosts site-
specic productions of Hamlet. The Hamlet-Sommer festivals put on
scenes and full productions of Hamlet on an open-air stage in the castle’s
courtyard every year. Over time, they have created a mythologized sense
of site-specic authenticity. In Elsinore, the ctional inhabits the actual
site of production. In turn, the performance site and its cultural location
recongure the ctional. Similar to the London Globe’s celebration of
theatrical cosmopolitanism and local authenticity as the space Shakespeare
wrote for, the Hamlet-Sommer makes the castle into an enticing point of
mythical origin.
Site-specic epistemologies inform both approaches. At the core of global
myths about Shakespeare lies a reied sense of locations. Artists often work
across several cultural locations, some of which lie at the crossroads of ction
and reality. In the process of myth making, multiple localities may be layered
upon each other to create a deceivingly harmonious image of Shakespeare.
As such, Shakespearean myths are repositioned beyond national boundaries
and traditionally understood colonial authority. Shakespeare inhabits a post-
national space where multiple cultures converge.
Locality helps us see the physical, ctional, and geocultural dimen-
sions of myth making. In the case of Australian director Baz Luhrmann’s
Romeo + Juliet (Twentieth Century Fox, 1996), North American Protes-
tantism is pitched against Latin American Catholicism, which is mapped
onto cinematic interpretations of Protestant, Elizabethan England’s anx-
iety about Catholic Italy, the setting for Shakespeare’s play. Mexico City
and Boca del Rio in Veracruz, the lm’s primary shooting locations, are
dressed up as a ctional American city called Verona Beach. The ctional
and geocultural localities, attitudes towards Latinity in the lm, and
Elizabethan English fantasies about Spain and Italy are meshed together
to create new localities where youthful exuberance, religious sentiments,
and early modern and postmodern notions of feud and hatred play out.
The concept of locality encompasses a number of related ideas, includ-
ing the setting of a drama, the city and venue of a performance, the cultural
coordinates of the audience, and all the meanings derived from these physi-
cal and allegorical sites. Representations—theatrical or otherwise—signify
relationally, and each locality is further constructed by interactions between
local histories embedded in and superimposed on the performances of
Shakespearean myths. Such interactions and their potential for revolution-
izing the performative and political practice are examined in the chapters
by Benedict Schoeld (Chap. 6) and Anna Stegh Camati (Chap. 7).
The local is not always the antithesis to the global or an antidote to the
hegemonic domination that has been stereotypically associated with the
West. Even though the humanities as a discipline tend to regard universal
claims as suspicious and celebrate the local as a Quixotic force, in studying
the local and global myths of Shakespeare, we have come to realize
that–—depending on circumstances, as each chapter shows—the local
and the global can play many different roles. Globalization may well
enforce homogenization and political efcacy, but it also exposes both
complementary and irresolvable local differences. In some instances, the
local is made subservient to dreams of Olympism, dreams of universalism,
and dreams of neo-imperialism, as exposed in the chapters by Bettina
Boecker (Chap. 2), Kevin A. Quarmby (Chap. 4), and Marcela Kostihova
(Chap. 3). There are also times when the local becomes the coercive and
oppressive agent, such as during China’s Cultural Revolution and during
the Cold War in Eastern Europe. In such cases, the global represents a
potentially liberating space. The additional purchase of the global is used
to reduce the oppressive authority of the local. Locality as a critical cate-
gory can solve part of the conundrum of the multiplicity of myths about
Myth inperforMance
We would now like to turn our attention from site-specic epistemologies
to the politics of myth making. Myths are particularly fascinating to study
when they are falling apart. It is no coincidence that Roland Barthes’s
Mythologies appeared in 1957, when French imperial myths were coming
to a violent end with the decline of the second colonial empire. Similarly,
Holderness’s aforementioned collection The Shakespeare Myth was pub-
lished in 1988, when British myths of postwar welfare society came under
threat from Thatcherism. The present study of local and global Shakespeare
myths emerges as we are witnessing the disintegration of the postcolonial
world order, with the weakened position of the US and the future of the
European Union shrouded in uncertainty. In this changing political situa-
tion, myths of Western domination and triumphant globalization begin to
crumble. At the same time, as some narratives disappear, others return or
emerge. Thus, we can see the rising myths of national independence and
Asian dominance.
It is both exciting and urgent to explore the shifting myths around the
globe, and it seems useful do to so through Shakespearean performance.
After all, Shakespeare himself is one of the most powerful global myths,
“as potent as the myths of Greek and Roman culture, and the Bible”
according to Ton Hoenselaars and Ángel-Luis Pujante (2003, 24).
Moreover, his international reputation was established in the very pro-
cesses of colonization and globalization that are now under revision.
Performances of his plays around the world thus offer a lens through
which we might watch the decline and the dawn of modern mythologies.
The focus on Shakespearean staging in this collection produces important
insights into the dynamic and performative nature of myths as well as their
circulation inlocal/global contexts.
Myth as a strategy of signication is at the heart of meaning making pro-
cesses within and across cultures. Applicable in a range of areas, it provides
a vital perspective on ways in which stories and ideas are constructed, dis-
seminated, and exploited to endorse a particular worldview. The discussion
of Shakespearean myths in this collection draws on severalmedia and disci-
plines such as theatre, television, lm, literature, history, politics, economy,
cultural studies, and anthropology. What unites these diverse perspectives is
a shared understanding of myth as a story which presents itself as true by
careful construction of its constitutive elements, which plays a powerful
ideological role, which tends to generate further myths, and which might
change, disappear, and then perhaps return in a new cultural and political
context. This denition weaves together key ideas about myth expressed by
some of the most prominent scholars writing on the subject. At the same
time, the collection advances a performance- based approach to myth—one
that is grounded in performance theory and analysis.
The understanding of myth as a story is rather broad, particularly once
we combine elements of literary (Northrop Frye), semiological (Barthes),
materialist (Holderness), and theatrical (Heiner Müller) perspectives. In
Frye’s description, which draws on Aristotle’s mythos, myth is a “plot
examined as a simultaneous unity, when the entire shape of it is clear in
our minds” (1961, 590). Such plots can appear in a range of media and
forms. Analysing Shakespeare, and other writers, Frye presents myths as
metaphors or themes that span different works and periods. Barthes in
turn understands myth as “a mode of signication,” citing as its examples
a grammar sentence and a Paris-Match picture (1991, 114–115). In The
Shakespeare Myth and Cultural Shakespeare (2001), Holderness and his
contributors turn their attention to objects, institutions, popular manifes-
tations, and discourses surrounding the Bard. Finally, Müller sees myths as
acts of historical disruption within drama, which have a potential to revo-
lutionize the status quo. In the present collection, mythical instances are
discussed as ideological narratives surrounding Shakespearean perfor-
mances on stage, screen, and television. Each example shows a story that
has sought to establish itself as true through a particular framing of events.
Myth’s insistence on truth is inherently paradoxical. As Frye puts it, “A
myth, in nearly all its senses, is a narrative that suggests two inconsistent
responses: rst, ‘this is what is said to have happened,’ and second, ‘this
almost certainly is not what happened, at least in precisely the way
described’” (1990, 4). The comment might be read as a reformulation of
Aristotle’s implicit description of poetry as not “what has happened, but
what may happen,– what is possible according to the law of probability or
necessity” (1902, 35). Barthes goes one step further and describes myth
“as a story at once true and unreal” (1991, 127). The claim about the dual
nature of myths is crucial. It recties the popular notion that mythical
stories are by denition false. It also explains their ideological role: the
recognition of the potential veracity of myths is vital if we want to argue
that they function as meaning making tools that shape public views. It is
in this spirit that Frye labels myths as “cultural frameworks of human soci-
eties” that, in turn, form a basis for “structures of ideas” that derive from
them (1990, 204–205). It is also precisely because he acknowledges the
truth value of myth that Barthes argues that it “makes us understand
something and it imposes it on us” (1991, 115). The very same assump-
tion underlines Holderness’s description of myth as “a real and powerful
form of human consciousness, holding some signicant place within a cul-
ture” (1988a, 11).
The potential of myth to occupy such an important ideological role is
well articulated by Barthes, according to whom myth is “a system of com-
munication” or “a type of speech” (1991, 107) that represents “a second-
order semiological system” (1991, 113). In his account, a sign, made of a
signier and a signied, belongs to the rst-order semiological system.
The sign, however, can become a signier in the second-order system
when, associated with a new signied, it acquires another level of signica-
tion, thus forming a myth as a second-order sign (1991, 113). In this
process, the myth fundamentally distorts the signier to which it is
attached (1991, 121) and “naturalizes” the signied (1991, 128).
Barthes’s iconic example of this process is a Paris-Match picture of a black
soldier saluting the French ag. Different elements in the photograph are
carefully arranged to enforce the imperialist agenda. At the same time,
they all appear to the viewer as perfectly natural and realistic.
Barthes’s denition supports an idea of myth as a highly ideological
concept that endorses a particular vision of the world. In the collection,
several chapters explicitly engage with this idea. For instance, Marcela
Kostihova reveals neoliberal and neoconservative agendas in the myth of
authentic Shakespeare in the Canadian television series Slings and Arrows
(broadcast from 2003 to 2006); Frank Widar Brevik examines the myth of
Shakespeare’s purity in Hollywood cinema, whereas Ruyta Minami uncov-
ers the myth of Shakespeare’s sophistication in Japanese culture.
Another important feature of myths is that, in presenting a particular
worldview, they tend to form clusters. As Frye notes, myths “show an odd
tendency to stick together and build up bigger structures” (1961, 598).
This tendency can be explained by Barthes’s theory of “a second-order
semiological system.” Since the relationship between a signier and a signi-
ed is arbitrary and selective on the rst semiological level, and it continues
to be so on the second semiological level, where the relationship between
a signier and a signied is only partially motivated, this creates a certain
incompleteness, which in turn encourages several mythical signiers to
emerge (1991, 125–6). Müller’s account of myths provides another,
more metaphorical explanation of their capacity to form groups.
According to him, “Myth is an aggregate, a machine to which always new
and different machines can be connected” (2001, 120). Several contribu-
tions in the volume foreground this generative tendency of myths. Thus,
Bettina Boecker reveals how the myth of Shakespeare’s linguistic tran-
scendence meets the myth of Shakespeare as a representative of shared
European identity, whereas Benedict Schoeld shows how the myth of
German transgressive theatre has become conated with the myth of
“European radical performance.”
Finally, myths are not only able to form clusters, but they also function
as historical structures. They emerge at a particular moment, change, dis-
appear, and perhaps return. In Müller’s account, myths are born from
historical processes. As he observes, “[t]he invasion of the times into the
play constitutes myth” (2001, 120). Equally, in Barthes’s theory, where
mythology and ideology merge, myths evolve from a historical context. In
Mythologies, this is the context of French bourgeois interests, waning colo-
nial power, and divisions between Right and Left. Taking a cue from
Barthes, Holderness and the contributors in The Shakespeare Myth study
myths explicitly against the background of Thatcherist Britain caught in a
dramatic shift from postwar welfare policies to neoliberalism. Similarly, the
chapters in this collection are informed by specic cultural and political
contexts. For example, Dan Venning, Kinga Földváry, and Kevin
A.Quarmby show how myths are consciously constructed, transformed,
and adapted to reect cultural and national narratives in different parts of
the world. Emily Oliver, Alexandra Portmann, Aleksandra Sakowska, and
Saffron Vickers Walkling, in turn, offer a reection on the validity of spe-
cic historical narratives, critically examining the myth of political
Shakespeare in Central and Eastern Europe, and, in the case of Vickers
Walkling, also in China.
While the volume draws on several established approaches to myth, it
also advances a more performance-based perspective. The focus on the-
atre, cinema, and television in the chapters has important implications for
the very understanding of myth as a strategy of signication. It foregrounds
the temporary and transformative nature of myths, focusing on their
capacity to frame and enforce a particular way of cultural reception. It also
insists on a fundamental relationship between those who perform the
myths and those who receive them—a community of spectators at whom
a particular story is addressed. Moreover, the performance perspective
encourages a greater attention to ways in which myths function in specic
historical and geographical contexts within the local / global paradigm.
“[E]very myth can have its history and geography,” as Barthes notes
(1991, 151). The collection traces histories and geographies of
Shakespearean myths from local and global perspectives, recognizing the
necessity to examine the playwright beyond English or even Anglophone
contexts. The development of Global Studies as a discipline and the rapid
rise of globalization have prompted the study of Shakespeare as an inher-
ently international author who has inspired a wealth of local appropria-
tions. Thus, over the last 25 years, there have been fruitful discussions
about “foreign” (e.g. Kennedy 1993), “postcolonial” (e.g. Loomba and
Orkin 1998), and “world-wide” (e.g. Massai 2006) Shakespeares.
One of the key myths in the reception of Shakespeare as an interna-
tional icon has been the idea that he represents universal human values.
The myth might date back to Ben Jonson, who in a prefatory poem to the
First Folio wrote of his fellow playwright, “He was not of an age, but for
all time!” Taken up by the Romantics, the notion of Shakespearean drama
as a repository of basic ideas and emotions that can be communicated
across times and cultures has become a powerful story in Shakespeare criti-
cism. Jonathan Bate expressed it in unambiguous terms:
Because he was hardly ever narrowly topical in his own age and culture,
Shakespeare has remained topical in other ages and cultures. Because he
addresses great political issues rather than local political circumstances, his
plays speak to such perennial problems as tyranny and aggressive national-
ism. (2008, 221)
The myth of Shakespeare’s universality has been often used to promote
the vision of an empire or a nation. Nandi Bhatia notes that in British-
ruled India, Shakespeare was identied with “‘humanism,’ ‘morality,’ and
‘wisdom,’ and presented as the universally transcendental text” (2004,
54), in an effort to disguise imperialism as a philanthropic project. In
1855, it was recommended that India’s civil service examinations should
include a component on English literature and language, with substantial
weight given to questions on Shakespeare. This has led to the rich
reception of Shakespeare’s works in India that continues until the pres-
ent, but it was also a means of imposing Britishness as a cultural presence
and authority (Bhatia 2004, 54). After the Indian independence and the
gradual dissolution of the empire, the use of Shakespeare as a paradigm
of Britishness and a source of national unity has continued. In 1988,
Holderness suggested that the “‘Shakespeare myth’ functions in
contemporary culture as an ideological framework for containing consen-
sus and for sustaining myths of unity, integration and harmony in the
cultural superstructures of a divided and fractured society” (1988b, xiii).
As of 2017, the British citizenship exam, Life in the UK, includes several
questions on Shakespeare, pressing immigrants to embrace the myth of
the playwright as the essence of Britishness and the universal genius.
The playwright’s universality, however, hinges also on the long and rich
history of his local appropriations. As Stephen Greenblatt points out, the
most astonishing feature of Shakespeare is his “virtual universal appeal”;
he may be local in England, but he is universally worshipped elsewhere
(2016, 1–2). A perspective that approaches the local and global as comple-
mentary and interdependent categories, in the spirit of glocalization,
shows that Shakespeare myths have shaped identities and ideas in different
political and cultural systems. Examining Shakespearean performances
both locally and globally, we can trace common patterns and responses.
Theatre and lm provide excellent material to study myths associated
with Shakespeare in a worldwide context, since they seem to be situated
on the two opposing sides of the local-global spectrum. Theatre is tradi-
tionally embedded in its immediate environment. The artists and audi-
ences gather in a given time and place, whether it is a purposefully designed
building, a venue used for a site-specic production, or a public space.
Being together here and now creates a sense of community that might
extend beyond the performance event. Theatre is seen as an important
way of engaging with the concerns of a particular neighbourhood, city,
and country, while local, municipal, and national playhouses are expected
to play both artistic and social roles.
Cinema, on the other hand, by its nature encourages a global approach.
It tends to involve large-scale funding, often secured from multinational
corporations and grants from cultural organizations based in multiple
countries. Given a greater number of cast and crew members in comparison
to theatre, and not infrequently, a multiplicity of production sets scattered
around the world, the lm industry is more likely to depend on interna-
tional collaborations. Finally, as an art form that does not rely on liveness,
lm becomes easily dissociated from the location in which it was recorded
and produced, particularly when shown to international audiences.
The juxtaposition of theatre as local and cinema as global, however, is
not fully accurate. Theatrical versions of Shakespeare can easily attract
international funding relying on the playwright’s cultural capital, and they
can tour globally. Thomas Ostermeier’s Hamlet, staged by the Berlin
Schaubühne in co-production with the Hellenic Festival Athens and the
Festival d’Avignon, has been performed in 28 cities since its premiere in
Athens in 2008. In 2010 alone, it travelled to Sydney, Taipei, Bucharest,
Moscow, Seoul, and Reims (Schaubühne 2017). Shakespeare’s works are
regularly staged at international festivals, many of which are explicitly
devoted to showcasing the playwright as a “product presented for the
pleasure of a privileged and culturally dominant group of consumers for
whom ‘globalization’ meant market access” (Knowles 2004, 111).
Alongside these economic and cultural shifts, the very concept of live-
ness that lies at the heart of theatre’s locality has expanded in the last three
decades. The use of video and large-scale projections by directors like
Elizabeth LeCompte, Grzegorz Jarzyna, and Ostermeier has contributed
to the development of intermedial performance, while the launching of
The National Theatre Live in 2009 has redened the experience of theatre
for millions of spectators around the globe. The NT website claims that its
broadcasts have reached more than 5.5 million people in over 2000 ven-
ues worldwide (National Theatre Live 2017). Shakespeare remains crucial
in this process: among the NT highlights are the transmission of the
Donmar Warehouse’s Coriolanus with Tom Hiddleston and the Barbican’s
Hamlet with Benedict Cumberbatch.
Meanwhile, several lm versions of Shakespeare have situated the play-
wright and his audiences in a local setting, reecting on social and political
issues that are important for a particular community. Mickey B, a 2007
adaptation of Macbeth directed by Tom Magill, is a striking example. Shot
in Belfast’s Maghaberry prison, with the inmates speaking a mixture of
early modern and contemporary language in Northern Irish accents, the
lm situates Shakespeare’s cycle of violence in the context of present-day
social and economic deprivation and the history of the Troubles. In an
interview with Sarah Werner, Magill argued that some of these local ele-
ments were not legible to viewers outside Northern Ireland, who did not
have “the ‘cultural capital’ to read the lms[about the Troubles] as a local
audience would” (Magill 2011). He immediately noted, however, that
localization was crucial for the lm’s global success (Magill 2011).
In focusing on specic Shakespearean productions in a range of histori-
cal and geographical contexts, the chapters in this volume offer sophisti-
cated analyses of the way myths impose frameworks of interpretation onto
Shakespeare’s plays and their reception. They show how myths shape per-
ceptions of cultural, social, and political phenomena, never losing sight of
their uniquely powerful grip on audiences worldwide.
Structure ofthebook
The book is divided into four parts. The rst part, “Myths of Linguistic
Transcendence, Universality, Authenticity,” examines different conceptual
and cultural manifestations of the universal, humanist Shakespeare. Bettina
Boecker explores “the myth of Shakespeare’s linguistic transcendence”—
the idea that Shakespeare’s plays might function without English and, in
fact, without any form of linguistic communication, given their universal
performance potential. This assumption, which makes Shakespeare suit-
able for any type of intercultural appropriation, contributes to another
powerful myth—the myth of Shakespeare as a symbol of a common
European identity. Boecker identies the conjunction of these two myths
in multilingual Shakespeare productions in Europe, focusing on Karin
Beier’s 1996 Midsummer Night’s Dream. Similarly, Kevin A.Quarmby
tests the myth of Shakespeare’s capacity to speak across cultures by look-
ing at the South Korean Yohangza Theatre Company’s Hamlet which was
performed in London in 2014. He identies its appropriation of shaman-
ism and the gut ritual as a staple feature through which the production
reinvents mythical traditions in order to redene the national Korean
identity and to commodify it for global audiences. As an academic and
spectator, Quarmby self-consciously questions the competence needed for
appreciating intercultural performances. Marcela Kostihova, in turn,
shows how the Canadian television series, Slings and Arrows (2003–2006)
establishes the myth of authentic Shakespeare as a source of universal val-
ues and a means of personal and artistic liberation. The myth is constructed
in opposition to the limitations of scholarly interpretations and to the
demands of commercial theatre. Kostihova’s analysis reveals, however,
how under the guise of promoting individualism and self-determination,
this localized myth of Shakespeare makes the protagonists buckle under
globalized neoliberal pressure and comply with neoconservative values.
The second part, “Myths of Local Identities and Global Icons,”
focuses on the uses of Shakespeare as a global icon in the construction of
local identities. The rst two chapters consider Shakespeare’s appropria-
tions in Germany. Dan Venning reviews Ludwig Tieck’s efforts as a trans-
lator, critic, dramaturg, and director to create the Romantic myth of a
“German Shakespeare.” Steeped in Romantic aesthetics and ideology,
Tieck saw Shakespeare as a genius, whose study of society and nature
could help Germany forge its identity as a nation. Tieck’s vision has
shaped the understanding of Shakespeare locally in Germany, but it has
also inspired English Romantics and several twentieth-century critics,
contributing to the development of German Shakespeare as a global
brand. Benedict Schoeld identies a more recent, revised version of a
German Shakespeare myth as a “transgressive” performance practice,
which is anchored in the tradition of Bertolt Brecht’s iconoclasm. He
shows the manifestation of this myth in Bremen Shakespeare Company’s
Timon of Athens and Thomas Ostermeier’s Hamlet that were performed
in London in 2011 and 2012 respectively. Schoeld argues that this trend
of German Shakespeare theatre has become associated with radical
European performance more generally, as it has turned into a global phe-
nomenon, with German productions being exported for enjoyment of
the international audiences. Finally, Anna Stegh Camati explores Hamlet
as a mythical narrative, akin to Greek mythology, through the concept of
anthropophagy (“cultural digestion”) developed by the Brazilian mod-
ernist writer, Oswald de Andrade in 1928. Her essay focuses on José
Celso Martinez Correa’s Ham-let (1993) and Jessé Oliveira’s Syncretic
Hamlet (2005), which appropriate the play in the context of Brazilian
society and politics, incorporating Afro-Brazilian mythology alongside
current references. The localized anthropophagy of these two produc-
tions might be appreciated worldwide, as both are available in the MIT
Global Shakespeares open-access digital video archive.
The third part, “Myths of Political Shakespeare,” looks at the ways in
which Shakespeare and his works have been deployed for interventionist
purposes in signicant historical moments or political turning points.
Emily Oliver contends that the idea that Shakespeare is always part of
political opposition is itself a myth. Through a case study of Heiner
Müller’s 1990 production of Hamlet/Maschine at the Deutsches Theater
in East Berlin, she demonstrates that there is a trend of wishful thinking in
crediting East German Shakespearean performances with more political
agency and inuence than they had. Saffron Vickers Walkling’s study,
which also focuses on appropriations of Hamlet, provides a different
vantage point. Productions of Hamlet from non-Anglophone cultures are
often conceived to harbour progressive, politically subversive messages,
such as Lin Zhaohua’s Hamulaite and Jan Klata’s H. Vickers Walkling
explores why these Hamlets tend to be read as “political allegories trading
in modern myths.” Alexandra Portmann continues the discussion of global
Hamlets by turning to the myth of political Shakespeare in the former
Yugoslavia. She argues that Tomaž Pandur’s 1990 Hamlet and Gorčin
Stojanović’s 1992 Hamlet create an aesthetic reality to counteract and
interrupt the political reality. As the productions engage with the disinte-
gration of former Yugoslavia through creating particular modes of repre-
sentation, they offer dramaturgical strategies that are alternative to Jan
Kott’s theatre of allusion. The nal chapter in this part focuses on the
myth of political Shakespeare in Russia. Aleksandra Sakowska complicates
the idea of political Shakespeare in Prijut Komedianta Theatre’s and
Nikolai Kolyada Theatre’s productions of King Lear. The former not only
sustains the myth of politically subversive (hence expedient) Shakespeare
but also takes on mythologized Russian history of World War II, which is
known locally as the Great Patriotic War. By contrast, the Kolyada King
Lear is characterized by whimsical props and set in an unspeciable
moment and culture, which suggests an escapist tendency. Sakowska
argues that Russian theatre does not always seek out Shakespeare in order
to speak up, or speak politically.
The fourth part of the book, “Shakespeare as a Myth in Commercial
and Popular Culture,” analyses Shakespeare’s evolving mythologized sta-
tus as a high culture icon. Kinga Földváry tackles the idea of a disruption
of union in ancient myths of Greco-Roman, Judeo-Christian, and
Shakespearean narratives. The chapter examines ve cinematic “location-
based interpretations” of King Lear released between 2001 and 2009.
While in Shakespeare’s King Lear the powers of Nature are seen as the
source of divisions within families and societies, modern lm adaptations
tend to offer very localized conicts, such as Kristian Levring’s The King
Is Alive (2000) or Sangeeta Datta’s Life Goes On (2009). Frank Widar
Brevik takes on another form of fossilized imagination of what Shakespeare
should be. He argues that cinematic adaptations of Shakespeare “struggle
to reconcile three interpretative force elds: the spectators’ myth-based
expectations, the historico-political situatedness of the text, and our own
presentist cultural and political concerns.” His chapter contrasts three
screen versions of Shakespeare’s plays with two stage performances to
claim that theatre, unlike commercial cinema, has a great potential to
showcase contemporary conicts and issues. Lastly, Ryuta Minami’s chap-
ter takes us to Japan to probe the double-sided story of Shakespeare’s
canonical status in Japanese culture. On one hand, Shakespeare is wor-
shippedthere as a literary giant, which is solidied by the history of fre-
quent revisions and the re-publication of Japanese translations of his plays.
On the other hand, these translations and the received wisdom of
Shakespeare’s “greatness” are challenged by Kaki Kuu Kyaku, a theatre
company that produces all-female performances, “nyotai (female bodied)
Shakespeare.” By doing away with conventional stylistic features of
Shakespeare in formal Japanese translation (as it was commonly seen in the
late Yukio Ninagawa’s works), these innovative performances of Hamlet,
Macbeth, and other plays “liberate” the texts by inching closer to the
everyday language of the theatregoers, thus debunking the myth of
Shakespeare’s greatness as incomprehensibility.
As the chapters in the book expose and question some of the key local
and global myths in Shakespearean performance, they interrogate power-
ful nineteenth-, twentieth- and twenty-rst-century narratives of national
identity, transnational heritage, intercultural dialogue, and global com-
munity. Such interrogation is an important task for scholars in our times,
when the decline of faith in globalization, in both economic and political
terms, is giving rise to nationalism and populism in different parts of the
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Reproducing Shakespeare
Series Editors
English Department
Muhlenberg College
English Department
Smith College
Reproducing Shakespeare marks the turn in adaptation studies toward
recontextualization, reformatting, and media convergence. It builds on two
decades of growing interest in the “afterlife” of Shakespeare, showcasing
some of the best new work of this kind currently being produced. The series
addresses the repurposing of Shakespeare in different technical, cultural,
and performance formats, emphasizing the uses and effects of Shakespearean
texts in both national and global networks of reference and communication.
Studies in this series pursue a deeper understanding of how and why cultures
recycle their classic works, and of the media involved in negotiating these
More information about this series at
Reproducing Shakespeare
ISBN 978-3-319-89850-6 ISBN 978-3-319-89851-3 (eBook)
Library of Congress Control Number: 2018944609
© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2018
This work is subject to copyright. All rights are solely and exclusively licensed by the
Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specically the rights of
translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on
microlms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval,
electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now
known or hereafter developed.
The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this
publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specic statement, that such names are
exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use.
The publisher, the authors and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information
in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the
publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, express or implied, with respect
tothe material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made.
Thepublisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and
institutional afliations.
Cover credit: Mauro Rocca / EyeEm/ Getty
Printed on acid-free paper
This Palgrave Macmillan imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature
Switzerland AG
The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland
Aneta Mancewicz
University of Birmingham
Birmingham, UK
Alexa Alice Joubin
George Washington University
Washington, DC, USA
This volume has its origins in a seminar at the 2013 European Shakespeare
Research Association Conference in Montpellier co-directed by Aneta
Mancewicz and Alexa Alice Joubin. Several contributors presented early
versions of their chapters on this occasion, while some of the key critical
ideas were formed in the course of the discussions. As other contributors
joined later, the project expanded in terms of its theoretical framework
and geographical scope.
The collection proposes a new understanding of local and global
Shakespeare myths in theatre, cinema, and television, as the economic and
social costs of globalization are increasingly under scrutiny. Drawing on a
denition of myth as a powerful ideological narrative, the volume examines
historical, political, and cultural conditions of Shakespearean performances
in Europe, Asia, and North and South America. Some of the questions
explored include: What kind of myths have been generated locally and
globally in Shakespearean performance? Can we trace common patterns
across different regions of the world? What is the role of Shakespearean
myths in reecting important social, cultural, and political concerns?
The book begins with an introduction that is divided into three sections.
The rst section, “Global Shakespeare as Myth” written by Alexa Alice
Joubin, introduces new theoretical foundations for understanding aspects of
the Shakespeare myth beyond bardolatry. Contradictory myths are the
foundation to many conversations about Shakespeare today. Taking up
where Graham Holderness left off in his landmark volume The Shakespeare
Myth (1988), this section delineates the ways in which international lms
and performances construct myths of Shakespeare’s moral authority and use
value. Supporting these performances are liberal political ideologies that
work against bardolatry and yet condone other aspects of the Shakespeare
myth in the global context. This section identies two approachesthat are
particularly conspicuous in the application of the global as a myth to
Shakespearean performances: the construction of Shakespeare as a cosmo-
politan brand and as an aggregate of overlapping localities. Both these
approaches are informed by site-specic epistemologies, that is a strong sense
of locality or, in other cases, many overlapping localities. The discussion of
broader questions concerning global and local relationships in the rst sec-
tion leads to denitions of terms in the following section. The second sec-
tion, “Myth in Performance” written by Aneta Mancewicz, takes a European
and an intermedial perspective. It denes key terms organizing this volume:
myth, the relationship between local and global elements, and performance.
Myth is introduced from several perspectives: literary (Northrop Frye),
semiological (Roland Barthes), materialist (Graham Holderness), and theat-
rical (Heiner Müller). It is dened as a story that presents itself as true
through a particular framing of events and that plays an ideological role.
Myth is also explained as a historical structure that can change, disappear, or
emerge again, but also as a construct which tends to form clusters. Local and
global relationship, in turn, is dened with reference to imperial and national
narratives that underlie the idea of Shakespeare’s universality. Finally, the sec-
tion describes theatrical and cinematic performances of Shakespeare as phe-
nomena on the local and global spectrum. The critical introduction closes
with the third section that explains the organization of the chapters into four
distinctive parts and offers chapter summaries.
The chapters collected in the book present several case studies of per-
formances in Europe, with a special emphasis on Germany, in light of its
long tradition of mythologizing the Bard. Many chapters, however, span
across other continents, looking at performances of Shakespeare in Brazil,
Canada, China, India, Japan, and South Korea. The range of international
references reects the worldwide impact of Shakespeare’s works, and it
opens a broader discussion about their cultural and political signicance in
the twenty-rst century. Given this geographical breadth and the focus on
local and global mythologies, the book problematizes narratives about
Shakespeare’s cultural identity and value in the context of globalized per-
formance in the twenty-rst century.
Birmingham, UK AnetaMancewicz
Washington, DC, USA AlexaAliceJoubin
We wish to acknowledge the support of Palgrave Macmillan editors Allie
Bochicchio and Emily Janakiram, as well as the Reproducing Shakespeare
series editors Tom Cartelli and Katherine Rowe. We are also grateful to
Michael Dobson for his Afterword. Finally, we extend our thanks to Greg
Goodale (photographer, Greg Veit Photography) and Jessé Oliveira
(director, Caixa Preta) for their kind permission to reproduce the images
in this collection.
1 Introduction 1
Alexa Alice Joubin and Aneta Mancewicz
Part I Myths of Linguistic Transcendence, Authenticity,
Universality 23
2 “Europe Speaks Shakespeare”: Karin Beier’s 1996 A
Midsummer Night’s Dream, Multilingual Performance
andtheMyth ofShakespeare’s Linguistic Transcendence 25
Bettina Boecker
3 The Myth ofShakespearean Authenticity: Neoliberalism
andHumanistic Shakespeare 41
Marcela Kostihova
4 Shamanistic Shakespeare: Korea’s Colonization ofHamlet 57
Kevin A. Quarmby
Part II Myths of Local Identities and Global Icons 75
5 Ludwig Tieck andtheDevelopment oftheRomantic
Myth ofa“German Shakespeare” 77
Dan Venning
6 Shakespeare Beyond theTrenches: TheGerman Myth
ofunser Shakespeare inTransnational Perspective 93
Benedict Schoeld
7 “Tupi or Not Tupi, That Is theQuestion”: Brazilian
Mythical Afterlives ofShakespeare’s Hamlet 121
Anna Stegh Camati
Part III Myths of Political Shakespeare 137
8 Hamlet andtheFall oftheBerlin Wall: TheMyth
ofInterventionist Shakespeare Performance 139
Emily Oliver
9 Denmark’s aPrison: Appropriating Modern Myths
ofHamlet After 1989 inLin Zhaohua’s Hamulaite
andJan Klata’s H. 155
Saffron Vickers Walkling
10 Hamlet inTimes ofWar: Two Appropriations
ofShakespeare’s Tragedy inFormer Yugoslavia
inthe1990s 173
Alexandra Portmann
11 “Come, Let’s Away toPrison”: Local andGlobal Myths,
and“Political Shakespeare” inTwenty-First-Century Russia 189
Aleksandra Sakowska
Part IV Shakespeare as Myth in Commercial and Popular
Culture 211
12 Localizing aGlobal Myth: Contemporary Film
Adaptations ofKing Lear 213
Kinga Földváry
13 Shakespeare Sanitized forthePresent: Political Myths
inRecent Adaptations 229
Frank Widar Brevik
14 The Myths ofBold Visual andConservative Verbal
Interpretations ofShakespeare onToday’s Japanese Stage 245
Ryuta Minami
15 Afterword: Shakespeare andMyth 259
Michael Dobson
Index 267
BettinaBoecker is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Munich, as well
as an executive ofcer and a research librarian at the Munich Shakespeare
Library. She is particularly interested in the popular culture of the
period and Shakespeare’s afterlives, and she has published on a vari-
ety of early modern topics. Other interests include children and chil-
dren’s literature in the early modern period, Cold War Shakespeare,
and Shakespeare in performance. Her Imagining Shakespeare’s Original
Audience, 1660–2000: Groundlings, Gallants, Grocers was published by
Palgrave Macmillan in 2015.
FrankWidarBrevik is Professor of English at Savannah College of Art
and Design, where he teaches English, Shakespeare, adaptation, and lm.
His recent publications include the book The Tempest and New World-
Utopian Politics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012). His research interests lie pri-
marily in Shakespeare, the politics of adaptation, utopian studies, and
pedagogy, and he has also published on the challenges of teaching
Shakespeare. He has recently taken a scholarly interest in lm and the
works of David Lynch.
AnnaSteghCamati is Full Professor of Theatre and Drama Studies in
the Master’s Program in Literary Theory at UNIANDRADE University,
Curitiba, PR, Brazil. She earned a doctorate in English Language and
Anglo-American Literature at the University of São Paulo and carried
out postdoctoral research in performance-oriented criticism of
Shakespeare’s dramaturgy at the Federal University of Santa Catarina.
She has co-edited a collection of articles on Shakespeare, entitled
notes on contributors
Shakespeare sob múltiplos olhares (Curitiba: Editora da UFPR, 2016);
she is co-editor of the journal Scripta Uniandrade and a regional editor
for Brazil of MIT’s Global Shakespeares digital archive.
MichaelDobson is Director of The Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-
upon- Avon and Professor of Shakespeare Studies at the University of
Birmingham. He has previously held posts at Oxford, Harvard, the
University of Illinois, and the University of London, and visiting appoint-
ments and fellowships at UCLA, Peking University, and the University of
Lund. His publications include The Making of the National Poet (1992),
England’s Elizabeth (with Nicola Watson, 2002), The Oxford Companion
to Shakespeare (with Stanley Wells and others, 2001, 2008, 2015),
Performing Shakespeare’s Tragedies Today (2006), and Shakespeare and
Amateur Performance (2011).
Kinga Földváry is a Senior Lecturer at the Institute of English and
American Studies at Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Hungary. Her
main research interests include problems of genre in lm adaptations of
Shakespeare’s plays, twentieth- and twenty-rst-century British literature,
and theories of visual and popular culture. Her articles have appeared in
various journals and collections, including Shakespeare: Journal of the
British Shakespeare Association and the Shakespeare on Screen series (ed.
Sarah Hatchuel and Nathalie Vienne-Guerrin). She has also (co-)
edited ve volumes, among them Early Modern Communi(cati)ons:
Studies in Early Modern Literature and Culture (2012, with Erzsébet
Alexa Alice Joubin is Professor of English at George Washington
University in Washington, DC, where she co-founded and co-directs the
Digital Humanities Institute. At Middlebury College, she holds the John
M.Kirk, Jr. Chair in Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Bread Loaf
School of English. As part of her effort to promote cross-cultural under-
standing, she co-founded the Global Shakespeares open-access digital per-
formance video archive at MIT. Her forthcoming books include Race
(with Martin Orkin) and Cinematic Allusions to Shakespeare (edited).
MarcelaKostihova is Professor of English at Hamline University, where
she serves as the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts. She has researched
changing structures of identity formation in Central Eastern Europe rep-
resented in a range of cultural sites and media. Her rst book, Shakespeare
in Transition: Political Appropriations in the Post-communist Czech
Republic, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2010. Her second
book, a textbook teaching teens to apply critical theory to the works of
Stephenie Meyer, came out the following year.
AnetaMancewicz is Lecturer in Drama and Theatre Arts at the University
of Birmingham (UK). Her articles on Shakespearean performance, inter-
mediality, and European theatre have appeared in Literature Compass, The
Shakespearean International Yearbook, Slavic and East European
Performance, Forum Modernes Theater, and Multicultural Shakespeare.
She is the author of Intermedial Shakespeares on European Stages
(Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) and Biedny Hamlet [Poor Hamlet]
(Ksiegarnia Akademicka Press, 2010). She is a former co-convener of
the Intermediality in Theatre and Performance working group of the
RyutaMinami is Professor of English at Tokyo University of Economics,
Japan. His research interests are early modern English drama, reception of
Shakespeare in Japan, and pop cultural consumption of Shakespeare. He
co-edited Re-playing Shakespeare in Asia and Performing Shakespeare in
Japan. His recent publications include “Hello Sha-kitty-peare?:
Shakespeares Cutied in Japanese Anime Imagination,” Journal for
Early Modern Cultural Studies 16/3 (2016). He has also contributed
chapters to a number of books including Jonah Salz’s A History of
Japanese Theatre and Irena R.Makaryk’s Shakespeare and the Second World
War .
Emily Oliver is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the School of
Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Warwick. Her
research focuses on Anglo-German cultural relations in the twentieth cen-
tury. After gaining a PhD at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-
Avon, she worked as a postdoctoral research associate at King’s College
London on the project “Beyond Enemy Lines: Literature and Film in the
British and American Zones of Occupied Germany.” She is heading the
research project “Broadcasting Nations: A History of the BBC German
Service (1938–1999).” Her monograph Shakespeare and German
Reunication was published in 2017.
Alexandra Portmann is a postdoctoral researcher at Queen Mary,
University of London, and at Ludwig Maximilians-University, Munich,
funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. She studied philosophy
and theatre studies at the University of Bern and holds a PhD in Theatre
Studies. Her dissertation on Shakespeare’s Hamlet in Former Yugoslavia
received the Faculty Award at the University of Bern in 2015 and the
Martin Lehnert Award from the German Shakespeare Foundation in
2016. She is the author of the monograph The Time Is Out of Joint
Shakespeares Hamlet in den Ländern des ehemaligen Jugoslawien (Chronos
Verlag, 2016).
KevinA.Quarmby is Assistant Professor of English at The College of
St. Scholastica. He holds a PhD from King’s College London. Quarmby’s
journal publications include Shakespeare Survey, Shakespeare Bulletin,
Shakespeare, and Multicultural Shakespeare. He is editing 1 Henry VI for
Internet Shakespeare Editions and is the editor of their review journal,
Scene. His monograph, The Disguised Ruler in Shakespeare and His
Contemporaries (2012), was shortlisted for the Globe Theatre Book
Award 2014. Other publications include essays in Shakespeare Beyond
English (2013), Women Making Shakespeare (2013), and The Revenger’s
Tragedy: The State of Play (2017).
AleksandraSakowska holds an MA from Warsaw University and a PhD
from King’s College London. Her research focuses on Shakespeare in per-
formance and renaissance drama, particularly modern adaptations. She has
published many essays and theatre reviews including a co-edited special
issue of Multicultural Shakespeare entitled “Global Shakespeare
Performance for Anglophone Audience” (2014). She is a research
associate at the Shakespeare Institute, a visiting lecturer at the
University of Worcester, and an executive director at the Gdansk
Theatre Trust. She is working on her monograph Liquid Shakespeare:
Estrangement and Engagement in Contemporary European Adaptations of
Shakespearean Drama.
BenedictSchoeld is Reader in German and Head of the Department of
German at King’s College London, UK.His work explores the represen-
tation of German nationhood in transnational contexts and examines the
cultural relationship between Germany, Europe, and the United States.
He is the co-editor of two volumes exploring German-language culture in
transnational contexts, German in the World and Transnationalizing
German Studies, and is the author of Private Lives and Collective Destinies:
Class, Nation and Folk in the Works of Gustav Freytag, as well as numerous
journal articles and book chapters on German and Austrian Culture and
European Shakespeare.
Dan Venning is Assistant Professor of Theatre and English at Union
College in Schenectady, NewYork. He holds a PhD in Theatre from the
Graduate Center of the City University of NewYork, where his disserta-
tion explored the ways German theatre artists of the nineteenth century
deployed Shakespeare’s plays in performance in service of building German
national identity. He also holds an MLitt. in Shakespeare Studies from the
University of St Andrews and a BA in English and Theater Studies from
Yale. Previously, he was Associate Dramaturg of the California Shakespeare
Saffron Vickers Walkling is a Senior Lecturer at York St John
University. She graduated from University College London and the
University of York. Her main research area is in Global Shakespeare
Performance, and she is working on appropriations of Shakespeare’s
Hamlet in China, Poland, and the Arab world. She has published and
presented at international conferences on the work of Lin Zhaohua, Jan
Klata, Monika Pęcikiewicz, and Sulayman Al-Bassam among others.
Vickers Walkling was included as one of the 11 York-based researchers
cited in the successful bid for York to become a UNESCO City of Media
Arts 2015.
Full-text available
This article is based on multilingual research that analyses the British Council Shakespeare Lives programme. Based on a study of the global Twitter campaign to promote the programme, and a manual coding and analysis of 4,722 tweets in five languages, we investigate the key Twitter actors, topics and types of engagement generated by the campaign. We reflect on two topics that still largely remain absent in the field of cultural diplomacy: first, global audience reactions to a cultural diplomacy programme, and second, the potential of cultural relations organisations to generate intercultural dialogue, at the same time as measurable returns both on investment and influence. Our findings demonstrate that audiences like to engage with activities that invite their participation in ways that reflect their knowledge of Shakespeare, allowing them to compare his works with their own national/local literary figures and to share ideas about universal themes. While the Twitter campaign garnered significant positive attention from members of the public around the globe, the ambition to boost ‘Brand Britain’ did not appear to materialise. We conclude that dialogic forms of cultural diplomacy that stress the value of open cultural democracy, even if difficult to achieve in practice, are more likely to succeed.
Quarmby offers a timely reminder about the dangers of imposing a reformulated national myth on international Shakespeare productions. Focusing on a London performance of Korea’s Yohangza Theatre Company’s shamanized Hamlet, the chapter invites far broader consideration of the readability of global Shakespeares and the cultural competence required by Western audiences to appreciate their political, historical, and local complexity. The Korean theatre industry’s colonizing of Hamlet is traced to a Seoul-based nationalist intellectual agenda to reinvent Korea’s mythic identity after a century of cultural oppression. Quarmby demonstrates how this concretizing of shamanic symbolism, packaged for Westernized theatregoing consumption, has created a supposedly authentic Koreanized Shakespeare genre that is confusing to local and global audiences alike.
Full-text available
Radio interview moderated by Michael Witmore, Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library. "In 2015, on a state visit to Great Britain, Chinese Premier Xi Jinping called 17th century Chinese playwright Tang Xianzu the “Shakespeare of the East,” and ever since, the Ministry of Culture for the People’s Republic has made a concerted push to elevate Tang to the status of Shakespeare. 2015 was, of course, the year before the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and a worldwide celebration of his work. Coincidentally, it was also the 400th anniversary of Tang’s death. Tang’s promotion to “the Shakespeare of China” could be viewed as a marketing decision by the Chinese government, in an attempt to exert China’s “soft power” in the world. This episode explores just who Tang Xianzu was, and – more broadly – to look at what role Shakespeare plays in modern-day China."
Drawing on debates around the global/local dimensions of cultural production, an international team of contributors explore the appropriation of Shakespeare's plays in film and performance around the world. In particular, the book examines the ways in which adapters and directors have put Shakespeare into dialogue with local traditions and contexts. The contributors look in turn at 'local' Shakespeares for local, national and international audiences, covering a range of English and foreign appropriations that challenge geographical and cultural oppositions between 'centre' and 'periphery', and 'big-time' and 'small-time' Shakespeares. Responding to a surge of critical interest in the poetics and politics of appropriation, World-Wide Shakespeares is a valuable resource for those interested in the afterlife of Shakespeare in film and performance globally.
  • Roland Barthes
Barthes, Roland. 1991. Mythologies. Trans. Annette Lavers. New York: The Noonday Press.
Shakespeare in the Bush
  • Laura Bohannan
Bohannan, Laura. 1966. Shakespeare in the Bush. Natural History 75 (August-September): 28-33.
Hamlet Globe to Globe
  • Dominic Dromgoole
Dromgoole, Dominic. 2017. Hamlet Globe to Globe. New York: Grove Press.