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Original Practices in Elizabethan/Jacobean Working Theaters: Virtual Lecture

March 19, 2023 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm


Join us for a free lecture on the value of using original practices in Elizabethan and Jacobean theaters with Dr. Ildiko Solti.


“Why are Elizabethan/Jacobean replica theatres still being built? Is their aim to make discoveries about the past or the present? What forms of knowledge can be gained by using them? The fact that replica theatres, of which the Shakespeare North Playhouse in Prescot, Lancashire, which opened last July, is the newest member, are still generating such basic questions shows that many aspects of these theatres are still not understood. Perhaps the most contested of concepts in relation to replica playhouses is original practices (OP), which has been variously termed historical essentialism, creeping empiricism or just plain impossibility. However, if OP, that is, exploring the original conditions of production of the plays is not relevant, why build yet another replica theatre?

Apropos the new Shakespeare North Playhouse, I look again at the reconstructors’ aims regarding what the Globe project was for. Using Andrew Gurr’s concept of the “two-tiered experiment” I show that space, and so necessarily the present, was always the primary frame of reference regarding replica theatres and their use in terms of original practices. I adapt Kiernan Ryan’s notion of the “lever of form” to show that the main function of replica theatres, as envisaged and intuited by reconstructors, is to shape actor-audience interaction in the context of OP (of which the shape of the Space is the key component) to see how it can generate new and surprising meaning in the real time of performance. Building on Ryan’s interest turning progressively towards the processes of performance, I propose that thinking of OP as “the lever of form” can provide the missing element of our ways of thinking about, and using, replica theatres that is necessary for achieving what Sam Wanamaker, actor and founder of the Globe, called their “frightening novelty”.

Dr.Ildiko Solti is an actor-director, researcher and lecturer, former Shakespeare Research Fellow at Kingston University, London. She trained in Dramatic Arts at Macalester College, St Paul, MN, USA. Having returned to Hungary, she obtained her MA in Shakespeare Studies at Eotvos Lorand University and was Artistic Director of an English language theatre company, The Phoenix, in Budapest. In 1999 she moved to London where she has been teaching and conducting research and experiment in performance, focusing on Elizabethan/Jacobean working theatre reconstructions through the method of research through practice in performance (PaR). She holds a PhD in Performing Arts from Middlesex University, London. Ildiko is currently working on a book on the catalytic role of the Globe Theatre project in performance theory, acting and Shakespeare Studies.


March 19, 2023
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
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