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Taking the Bard to the Bush: Environmental Shakespeares in Australia

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 06:22 authored by Rosemary GabyRosemary Gaby
Much Shakespearean stage history and performance analysis focuses on productions staged in indoor spaces, but since the nineteenth century outdoor productions have become increasingly popular around the world, and they provide some interestingly varied modes of interaction with the worlds constructed through Shakespeare's verse and prose. Whereas conventional theatre buildings tend to isolate the performance event from the physical and social world outside, open-air productions cannot be cocooned from the places in which they are staged and inevitably perceptions of the locale become an integral part of the performance experience. Audiences at an open-air production experience the ambiguities of simultaneously responding to the imagined locations suggested by Shakespeare's poetry and prose, the production's attempts to represent those locations through lighting, costumes, properties and scenery and also, crucially, to the particular characteristics of the space chosen for performance and the sense of place associated with it. In Australia the distance between Shakespearean settings and local space is glaringly conspicuous, yet in recent years many companies have attempted to mount productions in unusual locations, beyond the familiar spaces of city parks and gardens. Focusing on the work of Victorian company, Ozact, this paper considers the emergence of environmental Shakespeare in Australia and its search for synergies between place and play.


Publication title









School of Humanities



Place of publication

London, UK

Rights statement

Copyright 2011 Rosemary Gaby.

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  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

The performing arts

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