Shakespeare wrote more than fifty parts for children, amounting to the first comprehensive portrait of childhood in the English theatre. Focusing mostly on boys, he put sons against fathers, servants against masters, innocence against experience, testing the notion of masculinity, manners, morals, and the limits of patriarchal power. He explored the nature of relationships and ideas about parenting in terms of nature and nurture, permissiveness and discipline, innocence and evil. He wrote about education, adolescent rebellion, delinquency, fostering, and child-killing, as well as the idea of the redemptive child who ‘cures’ diseased adult imaginations.
‘Childness’ – the essential nature of being a child – remains a vital critical issue for us today. In Shakespeare and Child’s-Play Carol Rutter shows how recent performances on stage and film have used the range of Shakespeare’s insights in order to re-examine and re-think these issues in terms of today’s society and culture.
1. Behold the Child 2. The Alphabet of Memory in Titus Andronicus 3. Curing Thought in The Winter's Tale 4. Precious Motives, Seeds of Time: Killing Futures in Macbeth