• Matisse in the Playhouse

    Elizabeth E. Tavares (see profile)
    CLCS Renaissance and Early Modern, Early Modern Theater, GS Drama and Performance, LLC 16th-Century English, Renaissance / Early Modern Studies
    Shakespeare and early modern drama, Shakespeare and rival dramatists, Theatre history
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    ON MY WAY TO EAST LONDON from a Shakespeare’s Globe perform- ance in August 2017, I noticed an advertisement in one of the Tube stations. Accompanying the billing for the Royal Academy of Arts’ exhibition, Matisse in the Studio, was a quotation from Henri: “a good actor can have a part in ten different plays; an object can play a role in ten different pictures.” It is from Museum Studies that we borrow the word curation: the selection and arrangement of pre- existing art objects for a particular experience. But this notion of curation has now overleaped the bounds of the art world; “content curation” is the stock-in-trade of every major marketing, consult- ing, and Big Data firm—from fashion to Facebook, from American Girl to the American Dream. The concept of curation, which exploded in the 1970s art world and again in the 2000s web-based economy, is much older than Matisse’s nineteenth century, how- ever. In this essay, I argue that curation is a hermeneutic equipped to account for repertory economics that structured the sixteenth- century theater industry. Pre-Shakespearean cases will exemplify how the field of Shakespeare Studies’ approach to troupes could evolve using this transdisciplinary paradigm.
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