Summer 1985 • Vol. VII No. 3 1985 Ohio Shakespeare ConferenceJuly 1, 1985 |

Parallel Practices, or the Un-Necessary Difference

Nearly fifteen years ago, at the interval of a performance of Peter Brook's A Midsummer Night's Dream, I overheard a spectator (who happened to be a scholar-critic) say, "Of course, it's marvelous theater, but it simply isn't Shakespeare's play." Admittedly he spoke of a landmark production that, at the time and for some years thereafter, divided Shakespeareans as well as the general public into polar camps; since then, the dialogue over whether Brook's interpretation was or was not Shakespeare's play has moved toward more level ground. Nevertheless, that spectator's comment introduces the powerfully felt schism between critical and theatrical interpretation. In a recent essay, Harry Berger prescribes the territory: "The Shakespearean intention constituted by the reader and the interpreted text will differ from the one constituted by the spectator and the performed text" (my emphasis).1 For Berger, performance limits the "true nature" of the text, concealing its verbal constructs an

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