There are some very helpful resources that can help us to think afresh about the impact of performance on the meaning and reception of texts. Some of the best, as we might well expect, relate to the theatre of Shakespeare’s time: indeed people with access to London can now see plays not only in an authentic outdoor theatre (Shakespeare’s Globe), but also in an authentic Jacobean-style indoor theatre (the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse).
But other resources help us to appreciate a culture in which, for instance, ballads were routinely sung on the streets and in alehouses, and pageantry (e.g. the annual Lord Mayor’s shows in London) was familiar on the streets. And the spoken word was hugely important for early modern religion. All people were routinely exposed to sermons, and many took them very seriously indeed.
- BBC Shakespeare Archive Resource
- A goldmine for the study of Shakespeare in performance.
- Royal Shakespeare Company: Education
- A range of educational material, including the opportunity to be involved in free broadcasts of plays into schools.
- Shakespeare’s Globe: Education
- More excellent resources, from the theatre modelled on the one where most of Shakespeare’s plays were first performed.
- Folger Shakespeare Library: Teach & Learn
- More from the wonderful Folger Shakespeare Library in the USA.
- Bolsover Castle Masque Project
- A smart film documenting an attempt to recreate a Jacobean court masque.
- English Broadside Ballad Archive
- Many of the ballad texts in this archive are accompanied by recordings of performances.
- Virtual Paul’s Cross Project
- Sermons at Paul’s Cross, London, were major public events. This beautiful site gives a tangible feel for the setting, while focusing on John Donne’s Gunpowder Day Sermon in 1622.
- Learning About Shakespeare
- Helpful background information and resources for students and teachers approaching Shakespeare (especially for the first time)