Monday, June 20, 2016

Shakespeare was not spectacular

In going to see Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, it was obvious that we would be watching a play, however the spectacle of the night, or rather lack thereof, lay not in the performance but rather the theater itself. 

The Taming of the Shrew is a classic Shakespearean play being performed in a space that is meant to be a near exact replica of the original theater. This adherence to tradition provides a false sense of spectacle, in which the atmosphere surrounding the play primes the audience to view the performance in a certain way. When entering The Globe, a member of the audience knows what the ultimate outcome of the night will be; they will watch a Shakespeare play performed in a highly traditional manner and setting. This concept can be related to Barthes view on wrestling, a sport he deems to be rooted in spectacle. He states that “the logical conclusion of the contest does not interest the wrestling-fan” (14). This quote suggests that the audience of a wrestling match are more concerned with the spectacle of what they are viewing, the spontaneity of it, than with a highly regulated performance. The audience at The Globe does not seem to care that there is a logical conclusion waiting for them at the end of the night, and therefore it is difficult to define what they are viewing as true spectacle. 

Additionally, the fact that the current Globe has been designed as a replica of the original disallows for any significant spontaneity on the part of the performance, as both audience and actors are quite literally surrounded by tradition. Therefore, the architecture of the building stifles spectacle. Returning to Barthes example of wrestling, he states that “true performed in second-rate halls, where the public spontaneously attunes itself to the spectacular nature of the contest” (13). There is a championing here for the informal and unregulated, both of which The Globe is not. It is certainly no “second-rate hall,” thus establishing any performances undertaken there to be false spectacle. 

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