This chapter explores the extent to which Shakespeare’s plays play with our vision, our expectations and our understanding of the way the theatre can make us ‘See better’ (King Lear 1.1.152) by seeing differently. It looks at the increasing complexity of visual imagery throughout Shakespeare’s writing career by highlighting the relationship between textual and visual rhetoric and the foregrounding of the audience’s interpretation of the visual score. In order to illustrate this argument I have chosen to highlight three pairs of contrasting visually significant moments on stage. By combining a close reading of the text in these moments with examples from performance it is possible to demonstrate that Shakespeare’s work shows a developing sense of the importance of collective understanding of the visual on stage. The performance of the plays through ‘original practices’ experiments, particularly in the reconstructed theatres of Shakespeare’s Globe and the Blackfriars in Virginia, has helped to reanimate the collective visualization process that is embedded in the dramatic structure of Shakespeare’s work. The plays have not changed, but our understanding of their dramatic effect has, owing to the participatory nature of the audiences in these new old spaces.
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
To get access to this content you need the following product:
- Visual Scores
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number
- Chapter number