Performing Restoration Shakespeare
The Folger Institute is proud to have collaborated with Performing Restoration Shakespeare, the international and multidisciplinary research project funded by the UK's Arts and Humanities Research Council that has brought together scholars and practitioners in theatre and music to investigate how and why Restoration adaptations of Shakespeare succeeded in performance in their own time (i.e., 1660-1714) and how and why they can succeed in performance today.
Scholar-Artist Workshop on Macbeth
This workshop was built into the rehearsals for a professional Equity production of Davenant's Macbeth in the Folger Theatre that runs from 4 to 23 September 2018.
In addition to project staff, the research community was comprised by six UK and US researchers, twenty-eight artists (ten actors, nine singers, seven instrumentalists, one musical director, and one stage director) as well as Folger Institute and Public Programs staff. Bob Eisenstein, founder of early music ensemble Folger Consort, served as musical director. Robert Richmond, who has previously directed at the Folger (Henry V, Richard III), was stage director. A full archival performance recording will be made available to scholars at the Folger Shakespeare Library and to the general public in the two repositories of the Washington Area Performing Arts Video Archive (WPAVA): the central branch of the Washington, DC, Public Library, and nearby the University of Maryland. Short videos documenting our research and workshops will be freely available to the public, and will be hosted on the Queen's Belfast website and on the Folger YouTube channel.
Davenant’s Macbeth was one of the most popular Restoration versions of Shakespeare, and it successfully integrates drama, music, and dance. Using reflective practice, our Folger workshops investigated how the play’s episodes of music and dance – described by Samuel Pepys as a "strange perfection in a tragedy" – reshape its structure and meaning. For example, Macduff and Lady Macduff (Act 2, Scene 5) confront singing and dancing witches that jubilantly prophesy regicide.
We will investigate multiple staging possibilities for this scene that reconcile the witches’ deeds with (what audiences now might interpret as) their cheerful music.
Primary materials informing our practice will include Restoration versions of Macbeth (1674, 1687, 1695), a Restoration promptbook (Folger Mac Smock Alley), and extant musical settings for Davenant’s Macbeth (Leveridge 1702, Eccles 1694, Locke 1670s).
Like the Globe event, the Folger workshops included members of the public who observed our creative practice and built a dialogue with the research team. By including the public in the project's research, the project team will better understand Pepys’s reaction and will gain insights into how modern audiences respond to the same play.
Folger Institute Scholarly Programs Workshop
- Amanda Eubanks Winkler and Richard Schoch
- Fall 2014 Weekend Workshop that served as a "proof of concept" for the subsequent AHRC grant
In most studies of Restoration Shakespeare, the overwhelming concentration on textual adaptation loses sight of the reality that it was multimedia theatre, featuring music, dance, and scenery. This workshop will redress the imbalance by asking some new questions: How can direct engagement with theatrical performance enrich an understanding of Restoration Shakespeare? How can theatre practice articulate meaningful research questions? Participants will tackle these questions through an innovative workshop that integrates hands-on practical work in the Folger Theatre—with actors, musicians, and singers—with scholarly readings and discussion. To focus this activity, participants and professionals will stage and analyze selected scenes from William Davenant’s operatic version of Macbeth (ca. 1663/4, with additional revivals in 1673, ca. 1695, and 1702) and Charles Gildon’s adaptation of Measure for Measure (1700). With the musical contributions of Folger Consort Co-Artistic Director Robert Eisenstein and other performing artists, the workshop promises to open up new areas for studying and teaching Restoration Shakespeare by combining primary sources from the Folger’s collections (including musical scores, promptbooks, and performance iconography), an interdisciplinary approach that unites musicology and theatre history, and a willingness to see performance theory and performance practice as mutually enriching.
Co-Directors: Amanda Eubanks Winkler is Associate Professor of Music History and Cultures at Syracuse University. She is author of O Let Us Howle Some Heavy Note: Music for Witches, the Melancholic, and the Mad on the Seventeenth-Century English Stage (2006) and Music for Macbeth (2004). Her current book project concerns music and dance in early modern English schools.
Richard Schoch is Professor of Drama at Queen’s University Belfast. He is the author of Shakespeare’s Victorian Stage (1998) and Not Shakespeare (2002) and the editor of Great Shakespeareans: Macready, Booth, Terry, Irving (2011) and Victorian Theatrical Burlesques (2003). He is currently writing a book on British theatre historiography from the Restoration to the Twentieth Century.