Restoring An Alternate Version of Shakespeare’s Works

Theatre History Podcast #70

Who can forget the timeless moments in Shakespeare’s plays, such as Hamlet’s encounter with the Ghost, Beatrice and Benedick’s playful sparring, or the happy ending to King Lear? If that last example doesn’t ring a bell, it’s because it’s from a different version of the famous tragedy, one that comes from the era known as the Restoration. Coming after a period of civil war, during which English theatres had been forcibly closed, the Restoration saw the revival of Shakespeare’s work onstage. However, the plays didn’t return in quite the same way that they’d appeared before the wars: they were staged in new venues, rewritten to fit changing tastes, and featured women in roles that had previously been played by boys.

Dr. Amanda Eubanks Winkler and Dr. Richard Schoch are working to help us better understand how Shakespeare’s works changed in performance during the Restoration with their project, Performing Restoration Shakespeare. In addition to facilitating scholarship on these revised plays, Amanda and Richard have also partnered with institutions such as the Folger Shakespeare Library to produce them onstage. Amanda joins us for this episode to introduce us to the world of Restoration Shakespeare and to explain what the project has accomplished so far.

Title page of a restoration-era edition of Macbeth

Title page of William Davenant's adaptation of Macbeth, 1674. Courtesy of the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Links:

  • Find out more about the Performing Restoration Shakespeare project at their website.
  • Follow the Performing Restoration Shakespeare project on Twitter to keep up with their latest news.
  • Visit the Performing Restoration Shakespeare project’s YouTube channel to learn more about studying and performing these works.
  • Discover the Folger Consort, the early music ensemble-in-residence that collaborated with Performing Restoration Shakespeare for their recent production of Macbeth.

Additional Reading:

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