Conkie, Rob Books

Dr. Rob Conkie is the Program Director for Drama at the University of Winchester in the United Kingdom. He earned his doctorate from the University of Southampton. His main research interests are Shakespeare in performance, commedia dell’arte and popular theatre, and radical re-interpretations of canonical works.

Globe Theatre Project
2006 0-7734-5724-0
This book analyzes performances at the reconstructed Globe Theatre in London between 1996 and 2004 through a focus on the new Globe’s most defining characteristic: authenticity. In that this concept of authenticity reverberates so urgently with debates about identity – from national to personal, heritage-centered to technologically-mediated – the book addresses both the question of why authenticity has become so crucial in late twentieth and early twenty-first century Britain and it further considers what productions of the ‘authentic Shakespeare’ at the new Globe have to say about contemporary identities. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a key argument of the book is that those productions which are staged according to what Pauline Kiernan has called the ‘authentic brief’ are most likely to endorse conservative and unreconstructed identities and subjectivities. The book reveals, for example, how the reviewers affirmed the psychologically consistent, realistic and historically synchronous representation of the Shakespearean identity of Mark Rylance’s Hamlet whereas they offered a far more censorious view of the more playful and non-realistic, Portuguese-language Romeo and Juliet.

This methodological approach is repeated in other chapters following which deal with performance at the new Globe in the five years since its opening. The first of these, Authentic Shakespeares, considers the productions which fulfilled the authentic brief most completely, and focuses particularly on how the productions represent gendered identities. It is argued that the authentic productions of Henry V and Antony and Cleopatra, respectively, offered their audiences the opportunity to identify with a masculinity which was aggressively heterosexist and xenophobic and a femininity which, by virtue of its pantomimic excess, was little more than laughable stereotype.