Shakespeare travesties, the philosophical and the popular

There are philosophical travesties, which use absurdity to further explore the ideas Shakespeare raised in his plays. And there are popular travesties, which are substantially less faithful to Shakespeare’s original, trafficking in the most well-known touchstones of the plays. Explore their roots in the 1800s.


And so they play their parts: Double-casting Shakespeare’s plays

Double-casting is a theater technique (as opposed to a literary one) that creates a meta-narrative, transforming a large-cast play into a present-tense adventure. Actors swapping costumes and changing roles (and sometimes genders) becomes part of the thrilling ride, and theater’s fundamental artifice becomes its strength. Theater’s very artificiality becomes a feature, not a bug. Shakespeare utilized this trick to both amplify subtext and heighten the drama.



Up Close: A 1574 map of London

This 1574 hand-colored map of London and its surroundings shows us something of the London in which William Shakespeare lived and worked. Get an up-close look at the map and learn more about it by clicking through the arrows to see captions that zoom in on different parts of the image.


William Charles Macready and the restoration of William Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear’

Imagine a King Lear that cut the character of the Fool, created a romance between Edgar and Cordelia, and featured a happy ending in which Lear and Cordelia both live. That was the most popular version of Shakespeare’s play for more than 150 years, until William Charles Macready’s landmark production in 1838.