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The Politics of Contemporary Approaches to Shakespeare

Powerful Essays
Abstract

Postmodern performance of Shakespeare, particularity in film, is characterized by a subjective experience within the play not an objective experience from the play. Under postmodernism, Shakespeare undergoes theorizing, deconstruction, displacement or death of the author, textual criticism, and cultural and political relativism but fails to produce solid answers. Postmodern Shakepseare does not offer new meanings but new and more possibilities for contemplating meaning. This fails both the traditionalist who relishes in reviving universal meaning, and the progressive who relishes propagating their political diatribe. Traditionalists can give a sigh of relief that Shakespeare thrives in the postmodern age by way of a growing number of Shakespeare troupes and festivals, the reconstruction of the Globe Theater, websites, stage productions and film (Worthen 2).

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A number of years ago, Arizona State University denied tenure to the head of the graduate theater program because of his commitment to teaching acting through the classics, most prominently through the plays of William Shakespeare. The professor under controversy, Professor Jared Sakren, hailed from Juilliard. ASU had recruited him primarily to build a graduate acting department. An equation for success turned into a recipe for disaster. The feminists in the department had purposed to "kill off the classics." Sakren was told to stop teaching the "sexist" works of Shakespeare or to revise the ending to such plays as The Taming of the Shrew in order to appease women (Alexander). Accompanying these recommendations, Sakren was also asked to reduce the academic rigor of his program. His office was searched and...

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Neilson, William Allan and Charles Jarvix Hill, ed. The Complete Plays and Poems of William Shakespeare. Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1942.

Reinfandt, Christoph. "Reading Shakespeare Historically: 'Postmodern' Attitudes and the History Plays." Historicizing/Contemporizing Shakespeare: Essays in Honour of Rudolf Böhm. Eds. Bode, Christopher, Klooss, Wolfgang. Tier, Germany: Wissenschaftlicher, 2000. p 73-89.

Shaughnessy, Robert. "The Last Post: Henry V, War Culture and the Postmodern Shakespeare." Theatre Survey. 39:1 (1998): 41-61.

Worthen, W.B. "Shakespeare and Postmodern Production: An Introduction." Theatre Survey. 39:1 (1998): 1-5.
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