Alexandria Digital Research Library

Global Shakespeare at the Globe: Challenging the Tourist-Spectator

Author:
Elfman, Rose Elaine
Degree Grantor:
University of California, Santa Barbara. Theater Studies
Degree Supervisor:
Christina McMahon
Place of Publication:
[Santa Barbara, Calif.]
Publisher:
University of California, Santa Barbara
Creation Date:
2013
Issued Date:
2013
Topics:
Performing Arts, Recreation, and Theater
Keywords:
Audiences
Tourism
Shakespeare
Spectators
Postcolonial
Globe
Genres:
Dissertations, Academic and Online resources
Dissertation:
Ph.D.--University of California, Santa Barbara, 2013
Description:

Between 1997 and 2001, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre invited troupes from South Africa, Cuba, India, Brazil, and Japan to present translations of Shakespearean plays on its London stage. Known as the "Globe to Globe" series, this set of productions received ambivalent and sometimes condescending reviews from British critics who did not understand the translation languages or performance conventions. Taking these reviews to encapsulate the productions' reception, scholars have agreed that the series reinforced hegemonic hierarchies between spectators and performers. They argue that the displacement to London rendered the performances' original meanings unintelligible; further, that this dislocation stimulated national superiority in British spectators who measured the performances against their expectations of Shakespeare and their tourist-like desires to witness an exotic Other. However, this perspective obscures both the agency of the performers as participants in the encounter and the diversity of audience response, presenting a fatalistic view of touring performance.

I argue that that in a performance across language and culture, failures in understanding do not indicate the failure of the event; rather, they can provoke spectators to suspend their preconceptions and negotiate new relationships. Reading professional reviews against the grain and placing them in conversation with video records and other documentation of the mass audiences' reactions, I suggest that the productions subverted the tourist gaze by resisting easy comprehension. As translation and 'foreign' performance conventions reshaped famous texts, the productions undermined audiences' expectations of both Shakespeare and the culture onstage. Confronted with the limits of their knowledge, spectators improvised new strategies of viewing, learning habits of listening and questioning that challenged cultural hierarchies.

These events further undermined dominant power dynamics by attracting audiences from London's diasporic communities and privileging their knowledge and reactions over those of the normative British spectator. This trend intensified in 2012, when the Globe to Globe concept was revived as a massive festival for audiences containing many translation-language speakers. Through spectator surveys, I show that the 2012 performances contributed to a shift in the norms of mainstream London theatre, challenging the centrality of English as the standard for both Shakespearean performance and the source of audience privilege.

Physical Description:
1 online resource (319 pages)
Format:
Text
Collection(s):
UCSB electronic theses and dissertations
ARK:
ark:/48907/f3ns0rz8
ISBN:
9781303731037
Catalog System Number:
990041152780203776
Rights:
Inc.icon only.dark In Copyright
Copyright Holder:
Rose Elfman
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