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How do our contemporary directors and actors react to Shakespeare's global reputation while trying to put themselves on the map at the same time? This article addresses the concept of global and 'worldly' Shakespeare through the concept of small-time Shakespeare and autobiographical performance. In a departure from the typical critical focus on cultural and national appropriations, or 'big-time Shakespeare,' the essay's line of inquiry follows the personal, local, and individual engagements of Shakespeare's plays that reaffirm local reading positions. Using as a case study Wu Hsing-kuo's solo adaptation of King Lear, Lear is Here - part of a trend in Asian adaptations of Shakespeare that are informed by performative autobiographies - the article considers the extent to which Shakespeare may be linked to the autobiographical mode of interpretation: how an actor's performative, autobiographical readings might contribute to the epistemological formations of 'Shakespeare' and adjust the storied biographies of the actor and Shakespeare's characters on- and offstage. Analysing Wu's adaptation from the perspective of the auto/biographical aspects of stage performance - an area largely underexplored in performance studies - illuminates how the production posits the possibility of apolitical Shakespearean appropriation in a postcolonial and globalized Asia, while foregrounding the relationship between performative subjectivity and literary universalism. While not aiming to generate a typology, the article ultimately seeks to take a step towards a theory of autobiographical interventions in Shakespearean performance, demonstrating how Shakespeare's universality may also be localized by directors' willingness to create new hybrids of dramatic spectacle by combining the personal with the fictional.
Autobiography,East Asia,Wu Hsing-kuo,King Lear,Globalisation,Locality,Appropriation,Postcolonialism,Jingju