Shakespeare, Trauma and Contemporary Performance
Routledge – 2011 – 176 pages
Series: Routledge Studies in Shakespeare
Shakespeare, Trauma and Contemporary Performance examines how contemporary performances of Shakespeare’s texts on stage and screen engage with violent events and histories. The book attempts to account for – but not to rationalize – the ongoing and pernicious effects of various forms of violence as they have emerged in selected contemporary performances of Shakespeare’s texts, especially as that violence relates to apartheid, colonization, racism, homophobia and war. Through a series of wide-ranging case studies, which are informed by debates in Shakespeare, trauma and performance studies and developed from extensive archival research, the book examines how performances and their documentary traces work variously to memorialize, remember and witness violent events and histories. In the process, Silverstone considers the ethical and political implications of attempts to represent trauma in performance, especially in relation to performing, spectatorship and community formation. Ranging from the mainstream to the fringe, key performances discussed include Gregory Doran’s Titus Andronicus (1995) for Johannesburg’s Market Theatre; Don C. Selwyn’s New Zealand-made film, The Maori Merchant of Venice (2001); Philip Osment’s appropriation of The Tempest in This Island’s Mine for London’s Gay Sweatshop (1988); and Nicholas Hytner’s Henry V (2003) for the National Theatre in London.
"Timely as well as distinctive, Silverstone's book makes a significant contribution to Shakespeare performance studies and, more broadly, to cultural history."
- Barbara Hodgdon, University of Michigan, USA
"Silverstone’s engagement with trauma theory is intricate and adroit…Shakespeare, Trauma and Contemporary Performance…is an eloquent invitation to attend carefully to what it might mean to see violence performed, and what it might mean to witness it." - Emma Cox, Contemporary Theatre Review
"This is a fluent and stimulating study which is both well researched and alive to the theatrical implications arising from the interaction of Shakespearian productions and their cultural situations." - Peter J. Smith, Year's Work in English Studies
Introduction 1: "Honour the real thing": Gregory Doran’s Titus Andronicus in South Africa 2: The Legacy of Colonisation: Don C. Selwyn’s The Maori Merchant of Venice and Aotearoa New Zealand 3: Sexuality, Trauma and Community: The Tempest, Philip Osment’s This Island’s Mine and Gay Sweatshop 4: Theatres of War: Nicholas Hytner’s Henry V
Catherine Silverstone is Senior Lecturer in Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies at Queen Mary, University of London, UK.