Metamorphoses of the Audience

  • Ralph Berry


The playhouse audience finds often a collective analogue to itself on stage. On many occasions, the stage holds merely a number of individuals, with no special characteristics. They are a plurality rather than a group. But on occasion, the stage personnel coalesce into a group with marked corporate identity. It may be a mob, a congregation, an army. In such cases the tendency is for the audience mind to be replicated on stage: that is, our involvement with the stage events leads us to become part of, or closely involved with, the army, mob, and so on. The nature of this group is thus basic to our experience of the drama. In organizing his dramatic scenarios, Shakespeare blocks out this experience with the utmost care.


Corporate Identity Direct Address Henry VIII Fair Hearing Stage Audience 
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  1. 2.
    Richard A. Levin, Love and Society in Shakespearean Comedy (Newark, NJ: University of Delaware Press, 1985), pp. 69–78.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Richard E. Mennen, ‘Theodore Komisarjevsky’s Production of The Merchant of Venice’, Theatre Journal 31 (1979), 386–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Ralph Berry 1993

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  • Ralph Berry

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