The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0646  Thursday, 13 November 2008

From:       Brian Willis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Monday, 10 Nov 2008 14:30:29 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 19.0631 Stratford Festival Stage
Comment:    Re: SHK 19.0631 Stratford Festival Stage

Why do so many supporters of the theatre react so vehemently against change? The 
same outcry was part of the response to the RSC's changes in Stratford, UK (and 
I specifically mean the physical changes to the auditorium, not the 
restructuring of the company that was so mishandled by Adrian Noble's 
administration). Any theatre historian will acknowledge that such criticisms and 
resistance to innovation has accompanied any practitioner who has dared to 
experiment and alter theatre (both the art form and the structure).

Such reactions continue to support the assertion that 'the theatre' (audience, 
critics, and most practitioners) is an essentially conservative creature, 
despite the many innovations that react against the accepted forms of its 
manifestations. Nowhere is this more apparent than in most productions of 
Shakespeare, where tradition and established patterns of playing the text are 
reinforced by each subsequent production's reiteration of assumed tropes of 

Sometimes, theatre is not the space where it is played, but the ways in which we 
use that space to communicate or charge the air with the electrical 
currents-signifiers (aural, visual, and physical) -- that make us think and 
feel. Spatial proximity can aid those signifiers, but ultimately each company 
must make evaluate those decisions for themselves.

Brian Willis

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