This article argues that a comic tension is embedded in the experience of historical difference within a reconstructed playhouse like Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. Focusing on the visual experience of contemporary audience members of the disjunction between the image of "present-day" spectators versus the historical hue of the interior architecture, Caldwell suggests that this historical disjunction or tension is experienced as comic and released through laughter. He argues that the use of sunlight in the Globe theater is in fact harnessed to an attempt to ground the historical reality of the playhouse. Caldwell revises theories of the historicity of light to claim that the Globe playhouse cuts time out of daylight, splitting it between a sense of present-day-ness and the past. Furthermore, he argues the various forms of "direct address"-gestures from actor to audience-- catalyze the comic tension inherent in this disjunction into laughter, for an audience whose gaze is drawn from the stage to itself set against the reconstructed architecture. He concludes that these spaces solicit a mode of spectatorial surrogation for manifestly vacant early modern spectators. This position of standing in for audiences lost to a past the sun has left behind can offer a form of representation that loosens their narrow sense of historical identity, while enabling them to laugh in the face of historical absence both present-day and early modern audiences are implicated in.


Original practices,Comedy,Laughter,Audience studies,Early modern drama,History,Performance theory,Reconstructed playhouses,Sense perception,Shakespeare


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pp. 375-403
Launched on MUSE
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