1st Edition

Shakespeare’s Contested Nations Race, Gender, and Multicultural Britain in Performances of the History Plays

By L. Monique Pittman Copyright 2022
    260 Pages
    by Routledge

    260 Pages
    by Routledge

    Shakespeare’s Contested Nations argues that performances of Shakespearean history at British institutional venues between 2000 and 2016 manifest a post-imperial nostalgia that fails to tell the nation’s story in ways that account for the agential impact of women and people of color, thus foreclosing promising opportunities to re-examine the nation’s multicultural past, present, and future in more intentional, self-critical, and truly progressive ways.

    A cluster of interconnected stage and televisual performances and adaptations of the history play canon illustrate the function that Shakespeare’s narratives of incipient "British" identities fulfill for the postcolonial United Kingdom. The book analyzes treatments of the plays in a range of styles—staged performances directed by Michael Boyd with the Royal Shakespeare Company (2000–2001) and Nicholas Hytner at the National Theatre (2003, 2005), the BBC’s Hollow Crown series (2012, 2016), the RSC and BBC adaptations of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies (2013, 2015), and a contemporary reinterpretation of the canon, Mike Bartlett’s King Charles III (2014, 2017).

    This book will be of great interest to scholars and students of Shakespeare, theatre, and politics.


    Introduction: Representing the Nation’s History

    1. Staging the Multiethnic Nation: Boyd and Hytner at the Millennial Threshold
    2. Shakespeare and the Cultural Olympiad: Gender, Race, and the British Nation in the BBC’s Hollow Crown, Series One
    3. Hollow Refuge: The BBC’s The Wars of the Roses and This Fortress Built by Nature
    4. The Disappearing Moor: Race, Authenticity, and the Nation’s History in Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies
    5. The Trouble with History:  Intersections of Nation, Race, and Gender in King Charles III
    6. Epilogue: The Case of Two Richards
    7. References



    L. Monique Pittman is Professor of English and Director of the J. N. Andrews Honors Program at Andrews University, USA.