In a survey of performances of three of Shakespeare's best-known plays in London from 2008-9, this article considers the radical appropriations of these canonical texts by a group of 'maverick' directors, all of whose productions engage directly with modern-day preoccupations. The directors under consideration (Edward Hall of the all-male Propeller, Stephen Hoggett and Scott Graham of physical theatre company Frantic Assembly, and Rupert Goold of Headlong Theatre) are united by work which, though having started away from major centres of Shakespearean performance, now has national and international impact. Through a close analysis of each of the productions (Frantic Assembly's Othello, Headlong's King Lear, and Propeller's The Merchant of Venice), the article finds further similarities in their re-appropriation of the plays' past-ness to accommodate contemporary images and issues which engages in an updating of Shakespeare's texts that transposes the tragic individual at the heart of each play onto the tragic group. In doing so, the article argues, the productions provide an incisive commentary on the tragic and violent condition of modern Britain, illustrating how the past-ness of Shakespeare may be used to offer insight on the present.  


Live performance,London,2008-2009,Othello,King Lear,The Merchant of Venice,Physical theatre,Contemporary,Appropriation


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pp. 87-97
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