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Shakespeare's mundane theatre: a provocative defence of the actor and the spectator

Abstract : Compared to Ben Jonson, Shakespeare seems far more discreet, or even removed from the controversy about the theatre. But appearances can be deceiving: although less visible and more oblique, his responses to the attacks against the stage are nonetheless present in his plays. Against the enemies of the stage who identify theatre as a source of profanation and pollution of bodies and souls, most of the defenders emphasize the virtuous exemplarity of performance. Shakespeare responds in a provocative manner and elaborates another conception of theatre, involving the actor as well as the spectator. A Midsummer Night's Dream, As You Like It and Hamlet reproduce the theatrophobic accusations against actors and the contamination of the spectator by the passions performed on stage. Yet even as he accumulates elements of accusatory discourse, the playwright displaces the terms in order to think through the emotional (and thus necessarily impure) experience of theatre and give it a social and moral function: the actor's art turns into a form of magic devoid of supernatural qualities and the spectator's reception is redefined as intelligence through emotions. Keywords: William Shakespeare, polemics, defence of the stage, actor's art, the status of the actor, spectator, effects of performance, theatrical passions, emotions Titre français: Un théâtre du monde : l'apologie shakespearienne de l'acteur et du spectateur Résumé français : Face aux prises de positions explicites et répétées de Ben Jonson, Shakespeare semble se placer en retrait de la polémique sur le théâtre. Mais, pour être moins
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https://hal.univ-lorraine.fr/hal-02903509
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Submitted on : Monday, August 24, 2020 - 10:27:57 AM
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Clotilde Thouret. Shakespeare's mundane theatre: a provocative defence of the actor and the spectator. Etudes Epistémè : revue de littérature et de civilisation (XVIe - XVIIIe siècles), Association Études Épistémè, 2018, Profane Shakespeare. Perfection, Pollution, and the Truth of Performance, pp.243-279. ⟨10.4000/episteme.1977⟩. ⟨hal-02903509⟩

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