What to do with a corpse? Physical reality and the fictional world in the Shakespearean theatre

Mariko Ichikawa

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In the Shakespearean theatre, the removal of dead bodies from the stage was a theatrical necessity, owing to the absence of a curtain between the stage and the auditorium. Despite the many non-realistic conventions accepted in the theatre, the disposal of corpses had to be carried out in such a way as not to disrupt the reality of the fictional world. An analysis of certain kinds of intriguing situations, such as suicide scenes, reveals how efficiently Shakespeare and his contemporaries utilized the stage hangings, the upper gallery, and the stage trap so as to avoid the necessity of bringing on bearers for the corpses at the ends of the scenes. Only at the end of the play, when the logic of the fictional world stops functioning, could the spectacle of a corpse getting up and leaving the stage have been accepted by the audience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-215
Number of pages15
JournalTheatre Research International
Volume29
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2004 Dec 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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