Why Rewrite Shakespeare and His Contemporaries?

Part of the Adaptation in Theatre and Performance book series (ATP)


This chapter looks at the emergence of what the critic John Russell Taylor called the ‘New Jacobeans’ in 1971. The group included Edward Bond, Howard Brenton, Peter Barnes, and Howard Barker: since then, a number of British playwrights have continued to be drawn to Elizabethan and Jacobean drama. The principal reason for that has been ideological: for example, in Edward Bond’s Lear (1971) and Bingo (1973) or Peter Barnes’s Jubilee (2001), Shakespeare as a figure is challenged, particularly the claims made for being universal. The chapter also looks at ‘faux appropriations’-plays that on the surface look to be appropriations, but in fact do little to challenge or radically reinterpret Shakespeare’s work. Examples discussed in this chapter include Bernard Kopps’s The Hamlet of Stepney Green (1958), Julia Pascal’s The Yiddish Queen Lear (1999), Dennis Kelly’s The Gods Weep (2010), and Mike Bartlett’s Charles III (2014).


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BirminghamBirminghamUK

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