Shakespeare and authenticity : the Globe Theatre Project.
This thesis analyses and contextualises the performances of Shakespearean and other
plays at the reconstructed Globe theatre in London between 1996 and 2000. It
contends that these performances raise compelling issues, both for dramatic
production and in relation to broader social and cultural concerns because of the
Globe's founding commitment to authenticity, which has been expressed most
obviously by the meticulous reconstruction of the new Globe building, and through
reconstructed authentic performance practices. Further, it is the argument of this
thesis that this commitment to authenticity expresses urgent concerns of the new
Globe's contemporary placing and role. Thus, the first three chapters of the thesis
refer to the actual performances only briefly as various contexts of authenticity are
explored. In these chapters the Globe is positioned within debates about historical,
personal and individual authenticity, within the discourse of Shakespeare's supposed
universalism, and within the concept of 'authentic performance'. Each of these
contextual enquiries is tied to a central concern of this thesis, the articulation and
constitution of identity and subjectivity.
The focal points of the second half of the thesis are the Globe productions and
performances themselves. The first of these chapters concentrates on productions of
reconstructed authenticity and explores some of the ideological positions encoded in
their representations. The remaining two chapters analyse productions that could be
described as non-authentic; productions of non-Shakespeare plays, and visiting
productions from other countries. An argument is developed (one which is anticipated
by the theoretical underpinning of the first half of the thesis) that, in general, the
'authentic' productions are more likely to represent conservative ideologies and to
perpetuate hegemonic identity positions.
This thesis contributes to the emerging field of studies of Shakespeare in
performance by applying a complex web of interdisciplinary perspectives to its
consideration of new Globe theatre practice. It analyses many of the productions
staged at the new Globe between 1996 and 2000, and evaluates some of the key
critical debates as they relate to authentic performance practice.