"The past as prologue: Marxist historicism and the Globe reconstruction" by Gabriel Egan
The new London theatre industry that emerged in the second half of the sixteenth century built for itself new performance venues unlike any other buildings of the time: wooden open-air amphitheatres in the Roman style. A late-twentieth century replica of one of these amphitheatres, the Bankside Globe on Bankside, has been widely deprecated by left-wing Shakespearians as an instance of what G. B Shaw, in the preface to Three Plays for Puritans, wittily termed 'bardolatry', worship of the 'Bard of Avon' (Shaw 1971, 41). This chapter argues that the reconstruction is a practical form of historicism which has parallels in the similarly backward-looking Renaissance theatre industry, and finds in the work of Walter Benjamin and Mikhail Bakhtin theorized arguments that such work may be politically progressive. It is necessary first to consider briefly the origins of the open-air amphitheatre design (especially in relation to naming errors that have occurred in textual and visual evidence), then to survey key works by Benjamin and Bakhtin, and finally to relate the errors regarding the names of playhouses to the philosophical bases of systems of nomenclature. We saw in the previous chapter that the drama self-consciously invokes classical precedents to explore contemporary philosophical--and to a lesser extent, overtly political--concerns. The design of Renaissance London playhouses was, likewise, a matter in which the past was brought productively to bear upon the present.
The open-air amphitheatres
Before the construction of the first permanent theatre spaces in London in the 1560s and 1570s, the large yards of the inns of the city of London were used for dramatic performance. The yards, designed for the unloading of wagons, were enclosed on three or four sides and had galleries around their edges that provided access to the upper rooms available for nightly rental. With the addition of a portable stage, an inn-yard made an effective theatre with space for spectators standing around the stage and under or within the galleries. The first recorded performances were at the Saracen's Head, Islington, and the Boar's Head, Aldgate in 1557 (Brownstein 1971b; Brownstein 1971a). E. K. Chambers thought that the Red Lion was such an inn-playhouse, but new evidence shows that, despite the unlikely-sounding name, this was a farm converted to a playhouse in 1567 (Loengard 1983). The stage and galleries were constructed in the garden of the farm by John Brayne, James Burbage's brother-in-law. The galleries were a single storey and the stage was 40 feet by 30 feet by 5 feet high with an attached turret--purpose unknown--reaching some 30 feet above the ground. The entire structure was cheap (under £20 compared to the Theatre's £700), rested on the ground without foundations, and there is no evidence that it lasted beyond the summer of 1567; the contract with the carpenter was to end with the successful conclusion of the first performance of "the play which is called the story of Sampson" (Berry 1989, 134).
The familial connection between Brayne and Burbage makes it tempting to consider the Red Lion as a prototype for the first substantial open-air playhouse, the Theatre built in 1576 by Burbage in the Shoreditch district just north-east of the city and hence beyond the jurisdiction of the city authorities.1 Between 1964 and 1999 it was thought that a picture of the Theatre had survived, the so-called Utrecht engraving owned by Abram Booth, but Herbert Berry has shown that this is in fact the Curtain built in 1577 (Berry 2000). Thus was overturned Sidney Fisher's identification of the building as the Theatre (Fisher 1964) and Leslie Hotson's original identification restored (Hotson 1954). The picture shows an apparently round open-air structure with a superstructural hut like that later seen at the Swan, but artistic distortion of proportion (especially height) limits the picture's usefulness concerning the building's size. The Theatre was dismantled in the winter of 1598-9 and re-erected as the Globe on Bankside, where there were already two playhouses. The first was the Rose built by Philip Henslowe in 1587 and substantially altered in 1592. John Norden's engraved panorama Civitas Londini has an inset map which shows the Rose and misnames it "the Stare" (Foakes 1985, 10-13). The other playhouse on Bankside was the Swan built in 1595 by Francis Langley and clearly intended to compete with the Rose owned by Philip Henslowe; indeed to reach the Rose patrons who came south of the river by boat and alighted at Paris Garden stairs would have to pass Langley's playhouse first (Ingram 1978, 106).
In 1596 a Dutch humanist scholar, Johannes de Witt, visited the Swan and drew a picture of it that his friend and fellow classicist Aernout van Buchell copied; this copy is extant. De Witt's sketch is the only surviving interior view of an open-air playhouse of the period and it shows a virtually round amphitheatre of between 16 and 24 sides with a stage projecting into the yard surmounted by a stage cover supported on two pillars. External views of the Swan also appear in a number of pictures of London, including a 1627 map of the Paris Garden Manor which appears to show the Swan having a single exterior staircase (Foakes 1985, 24-25). None of the external views of the Swan is a reliable guide to its dimensions, but the Hope playhouse contract specified that it should be "of suche large compass, fforme, widenes, and height as the Plaie house called the Swan" (Greg 1907, 20). Wenceslaus Hollar's sketch of the second Globe shows the Hope to be about 100 feet across, and we may assume the Swan was about the same (Orrell 1983b, 101). De Witt described the Swan as the largest of the London playhouses of its day and wrote that it was made out of an aggregate of flint stones ("ex coacervato lapide pyrritide"), a detail we must doubt given the construction practices of the day (Southern & Hodges 1952, 57). The large wooden columns supporting the stage cover were painted like marble so cleverly as "to deceive the most inquiring eye", and perhaps the external rendering too was deceptive. The described interior marbelization, the circular shape, and the use of classical columns with ornate bases and capitals put the Swan in a neo-classicist tradition of design emerging at the end of the sixteenth century, despite the apparent Tudor bareness of the sketch.
Only one more open-air amphitheatre was erected before the general theatre closure of 1642, the Hope of 1614 built near the site of the old Beargarden that the builder Gilbert Katherens was instructed by Henslowe to first demolish. As well as the construction contract for the Hope, several pictures of it survive in the form of preliminary sketches and a final engraving by Wenceslaus Hollar made in 1641. Famously, the engraving has two of its label reversed, so the the Hope is labelled the Globe and the Globe is labelled "the bearbaiting h[ouse]" (Foakes 1985, 29-31, 36-8). Other open-air theatres were built, including the Fortune and the Red Bull, but these were not round like the classical amphitheatres, and for some reason have not been subject to the same naming errors. To recapitulate those errors: Chambers guessed from its name that the Red Lion was an inn but it was a farm; Fisher named the playhouse in the Utrecht drawing as the Theatre but it was the Curtain; Norden's map misnames the Rose the "Star"; and the Hope was doubly mistaken as the Globe and as a "bearbaiting h[ouse]" which would have been true of the old Beargarden but not its replacement, which was the first dual-purpose arena. It is still sometimes claimed that the early London amphitheatres showed animal baiting, and indeed that the amphitheatre design was a development of the baiting ring design, but Oscar Brownstein effectively demolished this idea (Brownstein 1979). Finally, the Globe was mistaken for the Hope. (Although properly an architectural rather than a nomenclatural slip, one is tempted to include in this list of errors E. K. Chambers's disarming admission that he ought not to have suggested "that the first Globe might have been rectangular" (Chambers 1923, 434n2)).
The open-air amphitheatres were the only round (or virtually round) buildings in London, and were the first purpose-built theatres for a thousand years. Their antecedent was not the Greek amphitheatre, which had a shallow bowl shape and one tier of seating sweeping upwards, but the Roman amphitheatre as exemplified in the Colosseum, which stacked one deck of galleries on top of another. James Burbage named his playhouse of 1576 the Theatre presumably to make explicit its dependence on the classical model, as its round shape and stacked galleries implied. Foreign visitors got the point and repeatedly referred to the London theatres looking like Roman amphitheatres (Orrell 1988, 45, 60, 162), and were impressed by the faux-marble interior decoration. Eyewitness Johannes De Witt described the painted wooden interior of the Swan as cunningly deceptive and, as C. Walter Hodges pointed out, De Witt's evidence shows that the London amphitheatre was essentially a Renaissance rather than a Tudor design (Southern & Hodges 1952). De Witt's description of the stage posts' "marmoreum colorem" (coating of marble colouring), their entasis, and their ornate bases and capitals, all point to classical and continental influence upon the indigenous building tradition. But De Witt's description of the Swan as made out of flint stones is in conflict with our knowledge that playhouses were timber-framed buildings, although it is possible that an in-fill of flint was used between the timbers. Possibly De Witt was misled into thinking the building was made of flint because its exterior was plastered over and painted to look like stone. The contract for the Fortune theatre specifies that "all the saide fframe and the Stairecases thereof to be sufficyently enclosed wthoute wth lathe lyme & haire" (Foakes & Rickert 1961, 308), and to judge from the sketches and engraving of Hollar, the second Globe had such a coating too. As we shall see, the use of this evidence of exterior covering marked a crucial theoretical transition in the 1990s Globe reconstruction in south London.
Theorizing the reconstructed Globe: Mikhail Bakhtin and Walter Benjamin
The standard left-wing objection to the Globe reconstruction is that it effaces historical difference, presenting the past as comfortingly familiar rather than, as L. P. Hartley had it, "another country" where things are done differently (Hartley 1953, 1). Terry Hawkes eloquently outlined the conservative ends to which a reconstruction of Shakespeare's Globe might be put:
The potential of 'origin' as an agent of affirmation, confirmation and limitation makes it a powerful ideological tool. If we can persuade ourselves that in some way origins generate authenticity, determine, establish and reinforce essentials, then we can forget about change and about the history and politics which produce it. A covert, idolatrous agenda backs temptingly into view. The 'original' Globe Theatre! That firmest of rocks on which the true unchanging English culture is founded! To bolt the shifting uncertain present firmly to that monument must be a project worth encouraging. Let Europe loom, the pound wilt, Shakespeare's wooden O offers a peculiarly satisfying bulwark against change. (Hawkes 1992, 142)
Writing after the reconstructed Globe had opened, Dennis Kennedy cautioned against the same danger that historical difference is too easily effaced in a tourist site, which the Globe reconstruction undoubtedly is:
The Globe may look like Shakespeare's house but the risk continues that too much difference will be collapsed there, too much of the unknown glossed over, making Shakespeare into a heritage property that justifies a self-satisfied and self-serving present, a present always already determined by late monopoly capitalism. If the Globe Centre wishes to be more than Disney it must strive--in the midst of its touristic success--to show that Shakespeare is not us, he is a strangely surviving other in a world of the same, and our fascination with him is a fascination with something that we can never fully assimilate. (Kennedy 2000, 17)
Ignoring the faint hint of religious mysticism here--Shakespeare the holy fool moving amongst us--we can agree with Kennedy that the experience we get from tourism has "extraordinary dimension, temporal limitation and the absence of responsibility", aspects of what we call the carnivalesque, and Kennedy worried that it might, at the Globe, come too easily (Kennedy 2000, 3). Actually, it is entirely possible that the Globe reconstruction surprises more visitors than it comforts, since its deliberately gaudy interior decoration is quite unlike the Tudor bareness of the Globe in Laurence Olivier's film of Henry 5 or the Rose in John Madden's film Shakespeare in Love (Olivier 1944; Madden 1998). Rather the reconstruction project shows what the early sermonizers objected to, as when John Stockwood called the Theatre a "gorgeous playing place" and Thomas White referred to the "sumptuous theatre houses" (Stockwood 1578, J7v; White 1578, C8r).
The exhortation to 'always historicize', currently fashionable in Shakespeare studies, is usually accompanied by an unexamined belief that doing so will reveal how different the past was from the present. A good political reason to emphasize such a difference is to show that fundamental change in a society's practices, beliefs, and assumptions is entirely possible and can be traced in the difference between the early modern period and now. (The term 'early modern', intended to replace 'Renaissance', is, as Douglas Bruster observed, really "its structural equivalent", and yet another alternative "The Age of Shakespeare" has at least the advantage of "signaling who pays the piper of our academic tune" in the sense of identifying the man without whose work the period would be much less studied (Bruster 2000, 184, 186)). The past was quite unlike the present, the reasoning goes, so clearly the future can be too. The kind of historiography deprecated by Hawkes and Kennedy represents the Elizabethan period as an idyll of social harmony and a universally agreed-upon order, and here E. M. W. Tillyard is the critical bogeyman for his model of Renaissance ideology (Tillyard 1943; Tillyard 1944). In fact mid-twentieth century Shakespeare studies was a vibrant field of conflicting methodologies and knowledge systems, with Tillyard's Weltanschauung being challenged almost as soon as it was proposed, as Robin Headlam Wells showed (Wells, Burgess & Wymer 2000; Wells 2000, 207-15). The striking omission from Tillyard's system of political order modelled on cosmological order is the period's much-debated pragmatic doctrine of Machiavellianism, and Philip Brockbank pointed out that this was already present in the prose chronicle sources that were plundered by writers working in the history play genre (Brockbank 1961, 82-83). It is reasonable to argue that Shakespeare's history plays, for example, are better seen as dramatized conflicts between providentialism and Machiavellianism than as merely vehicles for the former (as Tillyard had it), but this insight was a mid-twentieth century one, not a discovery of the 1980s as is frequently claimed. Those who see the Shakespeare history plays and the Renaissance antinomy of historicity/fictitiousness as sites of struggle tend also to see an analogue in the metaphysical concept of 'man': the unified human subject is, in their view, a post-Enlightenment construction not taken for granted but rather fought over in Shakespeare's time. Jonathan Dollimire claimed that studies of tragedy by A. C. Bradley, George Steiner, and Reinhold Niebuhr took an idealist view of human disaster from which the plays, properly read, demur by showing misery to be contingent, not essential (Dollimore 1984, xvi-xxxii). A more balanced view of Shakespeare studies before New Historicism and Cultural Materialism would see that such philosophical debates were present in the criticism being dismissed as singly idealist. Indeed, Bradley's work on character analysis as the central task of Shakespeare studies was hotly contested by F. R. Leavis and gleefully mocked by L. C. Knights. Anti-Bradleyism itself is open to the charge of mistreating drama as literature, since whatever theories of personality they bring to the task, actors necessarily divide their labour by characters (one or more roles for each performer), not by themes, philosophies, or politics; and the plays were written for those actors, not we readers.
Rejection of Tillyardism has distorted Shakespeare studies in the late twentieth century because any attempt to argue that our world is, in its broad outlines, like Shakespeare's is dismissed as the second Elizabethans valorizing the first. But with the rejection of Tillyard's conservative model of the first Elizabethan mindset comes a freedom from the necessity to assert the unbridegable difference between Shakespeare's age and our own, since a belief that art is a site of ideological and political struggle can be identified then and now. Rather than a gulf of near-incomprehension we can posit a dialogue between the past and the present, a conversation in which a number of ideas are implicitly shared and many more are known to have subtly shifted. For example, what passes for incest in Shakespeare's Hamlet would raise eyebrows now, but is not covered by law, and yet why Isabella thinks it "a kind of incest" (3.1.140) for her brother to be saved by sacrifice of her virginity in Measure for Measure is hard to understand. Underlying any conversation, including one with the past, is a mixture of assent and disagreement, although there is a one-sidedness in historical scholarship considered as a dialogue since the past cannot answer back. The essence of Mikhail Bakhtin's notion of dialogism is that every utterance, artistic or quotidian, is definitely situated, inherently takes up a position regarding that situation, and presupposes a response to itself. In everyday talking, meaning is highly dependant on the situation of the utterance and without that situation the utterance may be unanalyzable. Bakhtin imagined a room in which are sitting a couple, one of whom says "Well!":
So what are we missing? That 'non-verbal context' in which the word 'well' sounded intelligible to the listener. This non-verbal context of the utterance is formed out of three factors: 1) a spatial purview common to the speakers (the unity of what is visible--the room, the window and so on), 2) the couple's common knowledge and understanding of the circumstances, and finally 3) their common evaluation of these circumstances. (Bakhtin 1983, 11)
All three factors are involved if, as Bakhtin imagined, the utterance followed upon the couple's looking out of the window to see that it is snowing, indicating that the long-overdue spring has still not arrived: "Now, once we have been introduced to what was 'implied', that is, to the common spatial and semantic purview of the speakers, we understood perfectly the integral meaning of the utterance 'well', and its intonation too". So much for everyday language, but what about art? Bakhtin commented:
At first glance it is clear that here discourse is not and cannot be in quite such an intimate dependence on all the elements of the non-verbal context, on all that is directly visible and knowable, as it is in life. . . . In this respect far greater demands are of course made upon discourse in literature. Much which remains beyond the limits of utterance in life now has to find a verbal representative. From the pragmatic point of view of the topic nothing in the poetic work can be left unspoken. (Bakhtin 1983, 18)
Bakhin went on to elucidate how poetic writing invents the listener (equivalent to the second person in the snow-story couple) and the topic (or 'hero') of its 'conversation'; these might seem absent in poetry but are in a sense present as internal forces shaping the internal dialogue of the work, which thus retains much of the active social dynamic of everyday talking (Bakhtin 1983, 19-29). Thus the poetic work carries in itself the context that in everyday talking is provided by the shared social space where the utterance takes place, and yet this process can never achieve full self-sufficiency: there is no such thing as "the text itself" as imagined by the Formalists and the New Critics, "only texts that are more or less implicated in their environments" (Clark & Holquist 1984, 210). It is clear that Bakhtin was thinking of artistic writing in the forms of poetry and novels and not plays, for of course drama is exceptional in its ability to render unmediated the story of the couple in a room outside of which snow falls; a stage may simply show this slice of everyday reality. For this to happen in performance, however, requires that the script contain an entire textual layer which is not spoken but nonetheless shapes what happens by designating who speaks (speech prefixes) and what movements they perform and what activities happen around them (stage directions). This unspoken 'spoken' of the dramatic script is, in the case of Renaissance drama such as Shakespeare, notoriously incomplete and for any kind of performance at all to take place it must be repaired by modern editors. (If not, such absurdities ensue as Edmund, not Edgar, leading Gloucester up the imagined Dover cliff, as the 1608 quarto of King Lear insists (Shakespeare 1608, I2r), or the even-less performable feat of an actor entering the stage twice without exitting, which countless scripts demand.) Because drama, much more than poetry and novels, presents at the moment of its consumption a likeness of reality it has often depended on precisely the non-verbal contexts that Bakhtin showed were crucial to meaning in everyday life. Shared evaluations are, necessarily, subject to change over time and it is reasonable to suppose that Shakespeare's scripts fail to tell actors playing monarchs, nobles, and commoners where to stand in relation to one another on the stage simply because, when the scripts were written, every monarch, noble, and commoner already knew exactly where his social class entitled him to stand vis-à-vis the others and no-one needed reminding.
While a reconstructed amphitheatre playhouse obviously can provide Bakhtin's non-verbal context factor (1), the shared spatial purview of a drama's utterances, a standard argument against the Globe reconstruction is that the most important extraverbal determinants shaping meaning, factors (2) and (3) that we might call the Elizabethan mindset of the original audiences, cannot be recreated. But this counsel of despair necessarily applies to any attempt to understand the past by historical recovery, not merely those attempts raised in wood and plaster. We might want to create a hierarchy of extraverbal contexts according to how much we think they matter, but it is important to remember that each branch of scholarship could insist that its own area is the primary one. Naseeb Shaheen can mount a devastating critique of those who are ignorant of the scriptural inspiration of Shakespeare's writing, but he is nonetheless cautious in identifying sources:
Scholars with varying degrees of religious commitment are generally the ones who find an excess of biblical analogies and meanings in Shakespeare's every word, and who try to justify their conclusions by tenuous and contrived arguments. But we must be careful not to read into Shakespeare something that is not there, nor to discover our own religious meanings in Shakespeare rather than Shakespeare's meanings. (Shaheen 1999, 74)
Likewise, it would be an exaggeration to claim that the reconstructed Globe has, by recovery of the performance context, provided an entirely new understanding of Shakespeare's plays, but equally it would be untrue to say that nothing has been learnt. As in most branches of Shakespeare studies, a reasonable summary of the contribution made by practical exploration of original staging techniques would locate the importance of the discoveries part-way between the poles of revelation and irrelevance.
'Dialogue' is the essence of Bakhtin's work and is the term one hears most often at the reconstructed Globe when those working there attempt to justify what they do: they claim to be encouraging a dialogue between Shakespeare's time and our own. This probably is not conscious Bakhtinianism--few there are familiar with it--nor indeed conscious Gadamerism (as we shall see) and we should not assume that, intended or otherwise, use of the term 'dialogue' itself indicates high intellectual aspirations. Nonetheless the modern reconstruction does, indeed, engage us in a dialogue with Shakespeare's time just as the original Globe engaged its audience in a dialogue with their classical antecedents, not just in the reworking of classical stories and dramatic forms but also in the very architectural form of the performance venue. A practical example of the project's usefulness in presenting Elizabethan performance conditions to modern actors is the Globe's uniformity of natural lighting which makes the audience visible to the actors and the audience visible to itself, but as Peter J. Smith pointed out in a review of Pauline Kiernan's Staging Shakespeare at the New Globe (Kiernan 1999) this is "also true of most, if not all, outdoor performances and some indoor ones too" (Smith 2002, TBA). Together with a stage thrusting into a 'sea' of upturned faces, however, this uniformity of light denies actors any chance to pretend that the audience is not there, as they might in a proscenium arch theatre with strong footlights that render the audience invisible. Bakhtin argued that communication is always "oriented towards an addressee, toward who that addressee might be" and "it is a territory shared by both addresser and addressee" (Clark & Holquist 1984, 214). This is practically instantiated in a theatre such as the Globe where the addresser and addressee must see and acknowledge one another. The theatre space becomes overtly a place for a social event, and this sociality links Bakhtin's work on dialogism with his work on the carnival. The carnival makes obvious the fictive nature of social relations by temporarily inverting them, and the Elizabethan theatre was itself feared for doing that: if a boy may perform being a woman and a commoner may perform being a king, gender and royalty might seem like performances not conditions, praxis not ontology. Furthermore, the carnival is a place of plebian derision and solidarity, and the open-air amphitheatres seem to have been likewise demotic (the one penny entrance fee remained throughout the period), mocking of authority, and capable of producing the collective feeling of belonging that renders an audience singular. Standing as an example of plebian solidarity in relation to the new artform is the apprentice riot that destroyed the Cockpit Drury Lane in 1616 when Christopher Beeston brought the Queen Anne's men to this expensive indoor venue and so excluded the audience that had been enjoying them at the cheap open-air Red Bull (Gurr 1988, 10-12; Gurr 1996, 323-25).
For all this, there is a tension between the Globe reconstruction's premisses and Bakhtin's work. Andrew Gurr used a computer metaphor to describe the purpose of the reconstruction: it exists to test 'theatre-specificity', which is the idea that theatrical 'software', the drama, runs best on (or rather, in) the 'hardware', the theatre, for which it was written (Gurr 1989, 1). Yet as we saw above, in "Discourse in Life and Discourse in Poetry: Questions of Sociological Poetics" (Bakhtin 1983, 5-30), Bakhtin argued that the aesthetic quality of a written work, its literariness, is inversely proportional to the degree to which is depends on its contexts: the less dependant it is the more free it is "to live and have meaning in other contexts, life and meaning being equivalent in Bakhtin's thought" (Clark & Holquist 1984, 210). Thus it is a mark of the Shakespeare works' artistic achievement that they are performed around the world centuries after their composition, free of the original time and place with which the Globe project is concerned. On the other hand, in the essay "The Two Stylistic Lines of Development in the European Novel" Bahktin argued that to understand the way literary works orchestrate different types of language, and in particular how they highlight and parody certain ways of speaking, we need to understand these effects against a backdrop of heterogeneous langauge (Bakhtin's heteroglossia), which is itself contradictory and suffused with power relations. For works from the distant past, our intellectual energies are required to render the background heteroglossia, which can easily appear to be two-dimensional, in three dimensions (Bakhtin 1981, 417), and here is clearly a tension in Bakhtin's work: great art should transcend the local linguistic background which nonetheless must be recovered to understand just how the work is engaging with its context. The same year that Bakhtin wrote Rabelais and his World, Walter Benjamin wrote his Theses on the Philosophy of History and in these and his essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" we find a view of how to use the past that contrasts with Bakhtin's. Benjamin had long been concerned with the way that certain kinds of writing draw attention to themselves as writing, a process deprecated by one strand of New Criticism and celebrated by French structuralists and poststructuralists under the label ecriture. For Benjamin this attention-seeking writing--concerned with words as words rather than as means for transmitting feelings--was at the heart of Trauespiel, German tragic drama. Allegory, Benjamin realized, is bound to draw attention to itself and to the process of signification for it is the device in which it is most glaringly obviously that x stands for y, and so we cannot overlook the fact that this relation, 'stands for', is how we make all meanings. It is not that allegory is a device concerned only to illuminate our signifying practices, but simply that this kind of writing most urgently forces upon our attention the way in which material signs bear immaterial meaning.
A notable feature of the Shakespeare plays--less prevalent but seldom entirely absent in his contemporaries' work--is their drawing of our attention to their own means of signification. One of the commonest way they do this is by referring to the fabric of the theatre at key moments and there has been no systematic study of these, although Anne Righter traced this dramatic technique from its origins in medieval religious plays and concluded that, howsoever powerful when used subtly, it was essentially destructive (Righter 1962). Righter ends her book with an account of Gian Lorenzo Bernini's theatrical performance in Rome in 1637 in which the curtain opened to show the audience a novel spectacle: another audience looking back at them. Two players in the middle debated which was the real audience, and decided to pull a curtain across the middle of the stage so that each player could entertain one of the audiences. During these entertainments there was 'leakage' across the gap so the real audience overheard the onstage audience laughing at its own entertainment. Righter saw this as erasure of all dramatic distinction and loss of the fine Renaissance balance between world and stage, and argued that the same process was gathering pace in England and would have ended the theatrical tradition here even if the theatres had not been closed (Righter 1962, 185). Bernini's surprisingly modern trick, however, is only an extension of the principle that the open-air amphitheatres had at the heart of their audience-actor relationship, which was predicated on the audience being conscious of itself as an audience and emphasized by the constant Brechtian reminders from the stage that the play is artifice.
In "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" Benjamin distinguished between two characteristics of an artefact: its aura and its trace. The aura is the irreducible distance an object keeps from its consumer, its quality of seeming out of reach, unassimilable, and strange. Works of art made in the age of mechanical reproduction--cinema films and photographic prints, for example--do not have this aura because they do not have the quality of singularity which typified artistic production in the pre-mechanical world. Moreover, mechanical reproduction can transform works of previous eras: "To pry an object from its shell, to destroy its aura, is the mark of a perception whose 'sense of the universal equality of things' has increased to such a degree that it extracts it even from a unique object by means of reproduction" (Benjamin 1992, 217). The opposite of aura is trace, the recoverable remnant still clinging to the fetishized object that shows its productive origin and what has happened to it since. Of course, objects are really trace all the way to their cores, since there are only the social relations that 'wrote' them. Benjamin's notion of the trace of an object is a resistance to constructivism, a refutation of the idea that things are whatever we choose to make of them. There is, rather, a hard reality which constructivism cannot wish away but must instead engage with in the struggle to make things from the past mean. Yet perversely, Terry Hawkes raised a speciously theoretical objection to the Globe reconstruction precisely on this ground:
If the first Globe is the 'original one', then a central problem must be that the timbers from which it was built were themselves 'originally' used to construct Burbage's first playhouse, called The Theatre, situated on the north bank of the Thames and dismantled in December 1598. . . . The dizzying prospect of a third remove enters with the fact that the best physical picture of the Globe is the one afforded by Wenceslas Hollar's 'Long View' of London. But this gives a view of the second Globe, which is of course a reconstruction on the same site of the first Globe. Finally, as if in mockery of all such reaching after authenticity, it happens that Hollar's engraving reverses the captions on the two buildings, with the result that the one it clearly nominates as 'The Globe' is no such thing. (Hawkes 1992, 142)
That Hawkes can give this account of the trace of the Globe is testimony to the archival historiography of the early twentieth century (especially work by E. K. Chambers), although Hawkes is wrong to claim that "the best physical picture" is Hollar's engraving, since the preliminary sketch for the engraving is better. We possess an exterior view of the Theatre (Abram Booth's 'Utrecht' engraving), plus details of court cases arising from the transformation of the Theatre into the Globe and from the renegotiation of the lease for the Bankside land on which the second Globe was built, and also a deposition swearing that the second Globe re-used the foundations of the first Globe. There are problems concerning the notion of aura of the Globe--and Hawkes properly draws attention to them in the same essay--but the "third remove" identified by Hawkes is a trivial evidential problem and is about trace, not aura.
Hawkes's essay began with the aura of the Globe and the Rose theatres and the excitement aroused when the foundations of these buildings were uncovered in 1989 and 1990. The response of academics and theatre practitioners Hawkes characterized as a reborn puritanism:
Few things unhinge the British as much as doublet and hose. The merest hint unleashes golden fantasies of order and well-being, yoking together gentility and free-born earthiness within a deep dream of peace. . . . One of the major charges levelled by the Puritans against the playhouses of Shakespeare's day was that they were involved in and encouraged idolatry: the worship of graven images. The appalling spectacle of famous actors and actresses actually praying over heaps of bricks and mortar, lighting candles and tying paper flowers to the wire fencing around the Rose and the Globe, had a familiar whiff. (Hawkes 1992, 141-42)
Attractively witty as this is, the theoretical bases for Hawkes's mockery are slender. The "first and most obvious" difficulty, he claimed, "lurks in the linked notions of 'reconstruction' and 'original'" and the way these are involved in "what the fell sergeants of deconstruction have urged us to see as a culture-specific need to establish legitimating presences and what less ambitious citizens might rank as a longing for a vanished Eden" (Hawkes 1992, 142). Hawkes's argument collapses the difference between reproduction and repetition, which, as Jaques Lacan pointed out, are quite distinct activities (Lacan 1977, 42-52); this point Eagleton made central to his understanding of Benjamin's work on aura and the commodity (Eagleton 1981, 25-42). Hawkes implies that the Globe reconstruction is a Freudian repetition of the original, a compulsive act rooted in Edenic yearnings sprung from infantile drives; there is truth in this and not all the project's supporters are mature about it. Eagleton drew on Lacan's claim that there are many unconscious signifiers crossing the infant body before it enters the Symbolic Order of language. The infant has subversive desires but is joined to its allocated place in society by the threat of castration (the Law of the Father), and this produces a fissured infant, which is to say it forms the unconscious. Eagleton's contribution that linked this to Benjamin's work was to claim that the same happens with objects in history, where the Law of the Father is called "'aura', 'authority', 'authenticity'" (Eagleton 1981, 32-33). These terms "designate the object's persistence in its imaginary mode of being, its carving out of an organic identity for itself over time". The Globe playhouse occupies special places in the collective conscious and unconscious of Shakespeare studies and--where id was, there shall ego be--the Globe replica has at least brought the associated theoretical and practical conflicts into the open. But what exactly has it done to the Globe by reproducing it? According to Benjamin, reproduction destroys the aura which gives a thing its place in history, so, the Globe reconstruction has done useful work in demystifying the early modern amphitheatres. Reproduction shows that the aura was illusory all along, it was the ego of the object that we can, by reproduction, show to be really a multiplicity repressed into singularity. The multiplicity of open-air amphitheatres of Shakespeare's time--misnamed and, as Hawkes observed, condensed and displaced--is repressed into a singularity in the Globe reconstruction. Yet for all the aura that artists try to put into an artefact, there is always the trace, the recoverable contingency of the thing, which speaks to us looking back from the object's future. Considered together, the naming errors of the early theatres and their discovery are perhaps the best example of their trace and of the historiographical work that sustains but did not create them.
It is essential to be not so enamoured of aura that one cannot make sense of it or distinguish it from trace, but nor we should be so blasé as to dismiss it entirely. There is something special about an original, and all the more so an original that is reproduced. As Jacques Derrida observed, the 'first time' of a repeated event is singular in also being a 'last time': the last time that it will be a first (Derrida 1994, 10). So, even if the Globe reconstruction is merely a repetition, the 'aura' of the original building deserves our attention. But the Globe reconstruction is in fact a reproduction, a copy which takes the artefact to new contexts precisely because it is not built on the site of the original, is not populated by sixteenth-century Elizabethans, and cannot fulfil the "golden fantasies of order and well-being" that Hawkes suspects. Lacan outlined the relation between repetition and reproduction in a seminar on Freud's analysis of the fort-da game (Lacan 1977, 53-64). In the game the infant repeatedly throws away an object in order to have it returned, or with some toys to personally haul it back by an attached string. The game is a child's way of coping with the absence of a primary carer by putting a loss (fort) under its, the child's, agency, which can bring the object back (da). Lacan observed that the thrown object is not conceived as the lost carer but as a part of the child, an object which the child invests with significance as part of itself:
For the game of the cotton-reel is the subject's answer to what the mother's absence has created on the frontier of his domain--the edge of his cradle--namely, a ditch, around which one can only play at jumping.
This reel is not the mother reduced to a little ball by some magical game worthy of the Jivaros--it is a small part of the subject that detaches itself from him while still remaining his, still retained. This is the place to say, in imitation of Aristotle, that man thinks with his object. It is with his object that the child leaps the frontiers of his domain, transformed into a well, and begins the incantation. If it is true that the signifier is the first mark of the subject, how can we fail to recognize here--from the very fact that this game is accompanied by one of the first oppositions to appear--that it is in the object to which the opposition is applied an act, the reel, that we must designate the subject. (Lacan 1977, 62)
The game is made of repetitions, the throwing out and retrieving of the object, but the game itself is an act of representation (Repräsentanz) using a primitive signifier, the cotton-reel, and it allows the child the pleasure of being either term in a binary opposition: "the fort of a da, and the da of a fort" (Lacan 1977, 63). From repetitive loss emerges a game that overcomes loss by representation.
Eagleton's analogy with quotation is useful here: quotation is a form of collecting, wresting things from their originating place but also thereby calling them back to their origins by showing them in a new setting; it is reproduction rather than repetition (Eagleton 1981, 62). Concerning Shakespeare's use of Ovid, Charles Martindale argued that we perhaps overstate the importance of context when looking at literary borrowings (Martindale 2000). Modern scholars too easily assume that the context of a source passage alluded to or imitated is relevant to our understanding of the allusion or imitation, but given the Elizabethan fondness for commonplace books this concern may be misplaced. In a commonplace book would be recorded transferrable knowledge in the form of passages, sayings, and drawings, and it is into such a record ("My tables") that Hamlet sets it down that "one may smile and smile and be a villain" (Hamlet 1.5.108-9). Such books were frequently categorized thematically--so all 'passages about sleep' might occur together--and necessarily this organization of knowledge decontextualized and recontextualized what it held. Martindale drew on Hans-Georg Gadamer's Truth and Method to argue that "In interpreting Shakespeare the choice is not between historically responsible accounts and ahistoricism, but between competing forms of historicism" (Martindale 2000, 202). Gadamer's understanding of interpretation as a dialogue between the past and the present is appropriate for the Globe reconstruction since this is precisely the terms in which the project's participants (especially the exhibition and education departments) describe their work, and as such it is open to the accusation that it represents communication as a disinterested activity. Eagleton memorably described Gadamer's Heideggerian book Truth and Method (Eagleton 1983, 66-74) as a work based on "a grossly complacent theory of history" because it does not recognize "that the unending 'dialogue' of human history is as often as not a monologue by the powerful to the powerless, or that if it is indeed a 'dialogue' then the partners--men and women, for example--hardly occupy equal positions" (Eagleton 1983, 73).
The principle of quotation is a way to avoid the complacency identified by Eagleton as the danger of treating historical and cultural interchange as dialogue: far from repeating the original Globe 'verbatim', the reconstruction can decontextualize it and so 'blast' the original Globe out of "the continuum of history" in order to offer it to the present as Benjamin advocated (Benjamin 1992, 253-54). A greater danger than overvaluing the Globe's aura is the extreme estrangement of the past which current academic historicism appears bent upon. As Kiernan Ryan observed, recent left-wing critical work is in danger of missing the utopianism of early modern literary texts precisely because it is only looking backwards and it collapses all into the past. Such work misses past works' ability to see into their own futures and to aim for something quite unlike their present circumstances (Ryan 2001, 227-29). Jazz pianist Art Tatum famously claimed that in his profession "There's no such thing as a wrong note, it all depends on how you resolve it" (Monk 1972), meaning that the correctness of a musical phrase was necessarily conditioned by what came next. This is a convenient image for Benjamin's insistence on historical retroactivity:
Historicism contents itself with establishing a causal connection between various moments in history. But no fact that is a cause is for that very reason historical. It became historical posthumously, as it were, through events that may be separated from it by thousands of years. A historian who takes this as his point of departure stops telling the sequence of events like the beads of a rosary. Instead, he grasps the constellation which his own era has formed with a definite earlier one. (Benjamin 1992, 255)
Such a constellation can be formed between the Elizabethan theatre's incessant self-reflexity (drawing attention to the theatre fabric and the making of fictions as an activity shot through with power relations, from simple dissembling to the dramaturgy of a Prospero), and Bertolt Brecht's use of verfremdungseffekt. Indeed Brecht was particularly interested in the Elizabethan open-air amphitheatres because he imagined that an audience that can see itself and that cannot be ignored by the actors would impress the materiality of performance upon both parties, just as he attempted to do by violating the accumulated conventions of the twentieth-century theatrical tradition. Brecht considered the Elizabethan theatre to be anti-illusionist and full of alienating effects, just as he found the plays dialectically replete of productive contradiction (Brecht 1965, 57-64; Heinemann 1985).
Perhaps the strongest impulse that has made recent left-wing criticism of Shakespeare excessively concerned with the otherness of the past has been a fear of teleology. But since it is the present that makes the past what it is--which is not to say that we construct it utterly--this fear is misplaced. Ultra-antiquarianism, which finds the past wholly different from the present, is as politically debilitating as constructivist ultra-relativism, which views the past as a mirror in which each age sees its own concerns reflected back. As Eagleton observed: "Such epistemological imperialism is no more than an inversion of the antiquarian impulse, pivoting all on some fetishized 'current conjecture', reading off reality from that privileged point as empiricism reads off its discourse from the structure of the real" (Eagleton 1981, 52). Eagleton quoted Brecht's complaint about early-twentieth century theatre's dominant mode of modernization:
When our theatres perform plays of other periods, they like to annihilate distance, fill in the gap, gloss over the differences. But what comes then of our delight in comparisons, in distance, in dissimilarity--which is at the same time a delight in what is close and proper to ourselves? (Brecht 1964, 276)
Rightly considered, the past is neither utterly alien to the present nor utterly familiar, but a "dialectic between strangeness and familiarity" (Eagleton 1981, 52). This applies to the buildings in which the plays were performed as much as the plays themselves, since the venues were part of the cultural phenomenon of Renaissance drama: the rise of the new industry in the late-sixteenth century coincided with the reappearance of an architectural form, the round theatre, not seen for a millennium. Just as the new Globe reconstruction looks back for its architectural form, so the open-air amphitheatres of the Renaissance looked back to a classical model and they were likewise a synthesis of the classical and the modern. It might be objected that the Globe reconstruction has an untenable principle of authenticity at its core, but although that principle underlay the construction processes (no power tools were used, and all fastenings had to be of Elizabethan design) it has not been the principle guiding of the project's theatrical work, nor the activities of its exhibition and education departments where 'dialogue' is forever invoked. During planning, the construction process itself encountered a necessary rupture with the original design regarding the height of the building. From the beginning it was clear that certain lapses in architectural authenticity would be inevitable because modern users are not Elizabethans: although everyone had got out through "two narrow doors" (Chambers 1923, 420) when the Globe burnt to the ground in 1613, the modern replica obviously needed larger exits. But more fundamentally, the first storey of the reconstructed auditorium had to be made at least twice the height of a modern person to make room for an entrance tunnel to the yard and a walkway around the back of the lowest gallery, so the Fortune's theatre 13 feet allowance for the lower storey would not do even though it comprised the best evidence (Orrell 1983a, 5). (To judge from their skeletons, modern Britons are about 10% taller than Elizabethans.) It is seldom noted that while the London Globe replica is scrupulously authentic in its width it is entirely pragmatic in its height, and so it is almost certainly disproportioned.
Aside from these essentially pragmatic adaptations to modern physical reality, the Globe reconstruction purportedly remained true to the best scholarly interpretation of evidence for the original building's shape and appearance. At least, this was adhered to until it came to the matter of the exterior coating and the desire to avoid the 'Tudorbethan', or mock-Tudor, appearance commonly associated with prosperous residential properties in the English Home Counties, the 'stockbroker belt'. Fortunately for those who wished to avoid such an appearance, the Fortune contract's specification that it be "sufficyently enclosed wthoute wth lathe lyme & haire" (Foakes & Rickert 1961, 308), and Hollar's sketches and engraving (Foakes 1985, 29-31, 36-8) showing the Globe's smooth exterior, indicated that the reconstruction's polygonal timber frame should be plastered over, making it a uniform colour and smoothly round. At a seminar at the offices of architects Pentagram Limited in 1983, John Ronayne, the Globe's adviser on decoration, argued that the evidence of the Globe's exterior treatment led unavoidably to the conclusion that "a magpie black and white half-timbering is not acceptable" (Ronayne 1983, 23). But the London Globe replica has been left uncoated even though the academic committee of the project was convinced of its existence in the original. The shift in argument that led to this is illuminating. Justifying his change of mind about the Tudor half-timbering, Ronayne later wrote:
The majority of buildings in pre-fire London had their timbers exposed (Claes de Jongh's painting of London Bridge, of about 1612, now at Kenwood, shows this vividly). As our reconstruction is the first major timber-framed building in the capital since the Fire, our decision, on balance, was to expose the structure of what is a rare sight in London, rather than cover it up as the Elizabethans may have done, taking for granted the frameworked appearance. For them, outer rendering was grander. For us, half timbering is more generally evocative. (Ronayne 1997, 122)
This shift represents a radical change in the theoretical underpinning of the project, since the stated aim was always recovery of 'what had been' in the Elizabethan period and not 'what is evocative' of the period. In other words, rather than aim for the historical reality (a cause), the project, despite being in full possession of the empirical data, at this moment chose to reproduce not the cause but the effect. Ronayne's decision about the exterior coating marks the moment when one of the modern senses of historicism--the past considered as a set of functional relations not a set of empirical data--made its first overt appearance in the project.2 The project had finally, and some would say inevitably, reached the point where merely recreating the past in its physical form seemed less important than engaging with the effect of a past physical artistic reality on its past consumers and discovering how this effect might be recreated for modern consumers. It had, in other words, given up on Benjamin's principle of blasting the Globe out of the past and 'quoting' it alongside modern performance practices (drinking coffee in the green-room when not on stage, punctuating the performance with a single central interval), and shifted its ground to what might properly be called a Bakhtinian dialogue, where it now rests. The essence of this dialogue is reciprocity: every utterance is oriented against the background of the 'already-said' and directed towards an answer (the 'not yet said'), and so is locked in a dialogic process of dependence upon its reception by an alien discourse from which it seeks a reading (Bakhtin 1981, 279-82). Understood as rhetoric, which is how Bakhtin saw it, this condition is politically and artistically challenging since Bakhtin's notion of 'dialogue' does not involve resolution or synthesis of voices; it is not condemned to the quietism of Gadamer's model. The work of Benjamin and Bakhtin provides an entirely respectable Marxist framework for the Globe reconstruction's work, the balance shifting towards the former when 'authentic practices' productions are attempted and towards the latter when modern analogues for Elizabethan practices (such as all-female casts) are sought. The challenge for those involved in the project is to keep such intellectual rigour despite the commercial pressures attendant on a theatre that receives no state subsidy.
Renaming and interpretation
In the fort-da game a child wields its first signifier, and likewise in Biblical mythology the first act of human history is the naming of animals. This comes immediately after the Law of the Father ("thou shalt not eat of it") and before the creation of Eve and Adam's subsequent naming of her (Genesis 2:16-23). Edenic naming is untroubled and it is notable that God left it to Adam rather than undertaking it himself, making clear the mortal arbitrariness (as opposed to divine inevitability) of sign systems, but also suggesting that names are merely convenient labels for existing entities. Indeed, a common non-academic understanding of language is precisely that names themselves do not change reality, although a moment's reflection shows the falsity of this position. In naming a entity we entirely transform it from a thing without a name into a thing with a name, and the possession of a name fundamentally alters an entity's existence in the world of human affairs. Renaming too is a fundamental activity, as we saw in relation to Benjamin's notion of 'trace' and also, as we shall see, because it manifests the difference between history as an immaterial branch of knowledge and historiography as the material embodiment of that knowledge in texts.
Since Plato, schemes of naming have been at the centre of debate about the concrete existence of the universals of human perception (such as redness, or table-ness), and for most of that time the problem was framed by theological concerns. William of Ockham's nominalistic rejection of the Platonist/Augustinian insistence on the objective reality of universals was motivated by a desire to emphasis the unknowability of God and the arbitrariness of his arrangements for the cosmos, and was in reaction to what he saw as Realism's error of making God the primum mobile, since this would be a limitation of his power. Atheistic historical materialism was able to restate the problem more simply in terms of competing claims for the primacy of reality or ideas. In the preface to The German Ideology, co-written with Engels, Marx stated his aim as the exposure of the middle-class preoccupations of Ludwig Feuerbach, Bruno Bauer, and Max Stirner. What Marx found most urgently mistaken in the Young Hegelian philosophy was its valorization of ideas about reality:
Once upon a time a valiant fellow had the idea that men were drowned in water only because they were possessed with the idea of gravity. . . . His whole life long he fought against the illusion of gravity, of whose harmful results all statistics brought him new and manifold evidence. This honest fellow was the type of the new revolutionary philosophers in Germany. (Marx & Engels 1974, 37)
The Young Hegelians put ideas before reality and Marx came to see his own previous philosophical work as likewise putting the cart before the horse in its concern with categories and abstractions rather than life as it is lived. Hence Marx's insistence in his base/superstructure model that reality shapes ideas, that social being shapes consciousness.
Yet Marx's economic masterwork would be built on an elaborate restructuring of the categories in which political economy is discussed, so he scrupulously outlined his principles for categorizing phenomena. It is easy to think that one is working from concrete, material, bases but in fact to be using empty abstractions. One might start a work of political economy by looking at the population of a country as the basis of its production. In looking at a population and wanting to avoid it being a "chaotic conception of the whole" (Marx 1973, 100), one might break it down into classes, and these classes down into the elements on which they depend, such as a wage labour and capital. This process of working analytically from the concrete, population, to "ever thinner abstractions" (Marx 1973, 100) until one has reached the simplest definitions is half the work. Thereafter one has to work back again from the smallest, simplest ideas, putting them together in larger and larger collections until one has accounted for the whole population, now no longer a chaos but a complex totality of all the smaller parts. Thus "The concrete is concrete because it is the concentration of many determinations, hence unity of the diverse" (Marx 1973, 101). This outcome feels like an act of generalization, but it is not: for perception, comprehension, and representation it is the starting point. Marx identified two paths in the analytical process: "Along the first path the full conception was evaporated to yield an abstract determination; along the second, the abstract determinations lead towards a reproduction of the concrete by way of thought" (Marx 1973, 101). Hegel deluded himself into believing that the latter path was the making of reality by thinking about, but in fact it is only the act of the mind appropriating concrete reality to make a concrete intellectual model of it. A simple category such as exchange value cannot be realized apart from a concrete living whole (a population doing production and exchange), but it nonetheless has existed as a category for millennia. Philosophers, Marx noted, have been apt to imagine that the world is a consequence of their thinking:
Therefore, to that kind of consciousness--and this is characteristic of the philosophical consciousness--for which conceptual thinking is the real human being, and for which the conceptual world as such is thus the only reality, the movement of categories appears as a real act of production . . . whose product is the world; and . . . this is correct in so far as the concrete totality is a totality of thoughts, concrete in thought, in fact a product of thinking and comprehending; but not in any way a product of the concept which thinks and generates itself outside or above observation and conception; a product, rather, of the working-up of observation and conception into concepts. . . . The real subject retains its autonomous existence outside the head just as before . . . . (Marx 1973, 101)
In short, the world outside the thinker's head is the real subject and the act of thinking does not create this world, only reflect it. The thinker does real work on real things, but those things are ideas and the work produces more real thoughts. Over against this view of the precedence of reality over ideas we must put postmodern theorizing which reverses the order and, like Hegel, has reality be a product of thinking; this position Leonard Jackson mocked as peculiarly attractive to literary critics whose professional habits of mind too easily lead them to treat reality as though it were fiction (Jackson 1994, 200). For his method Marx decided that simple categories have some kind of existence prior to the concrete situations in which they are fully developed; they do not simply develop as the complex situations develop. For example, one might want to wield a notion of what it is to possess when considering a society that has no relations of property, so in a sense there is 'property' as a category before anybody has property. Conversely, a simple category such as money can be absent or only partially present in quite complex societies, reaching full expression only in modern societies. Thus the second path described above, "the progress of abstract thought, rising from the simplest to the combination", can properly represent "the true historical process" of what happened. How then would one decide which were the truly primary categories? A truly primary category (one underlying others) might easily exist only as an abstraction for primitive societies and come to realization in developed ones. For example, labour in general (with no regard for what happens to be being made) is a truly primary category, but in primitive societies a person could labour only in one field of work or another: one was a miller or a ploughman, but never a general-purpose labourer. In nineteenth-century America, by contrast, one really could be just a general-purpose labourer doing whatever work came one's way. Thus the more-developed society displays as real the category that actually had been operating all along even in the primitive societies.
Marx's position on the naming of categories is only slightly more idealist than the moderate nominalism which admits the reality of universals and categories, not as independent entities but only as the sums of the particulars that manifest them. For analytical work either position legitimates empirical work and in literature promotes the kind of allegorical representation that Benjamin was concerned with, for in allegory universals are made concrete: greed may be figured in a drunk, and a robber called Robert. Nominalism's concern for the empirical and the concrete over the rational and the abstract is practically instantiated in the Globe reconstruction, but without political engagement these virtues easily degenerate into anti-intellectualism and theatrical pragmatism. Benjamin's exhortation that we blast a moment from the past out of the historical continuum and place it in a constellation with the present is politically attractive but hard to imagine in concrete terms since it appears to suggest that the past can be changed by what we do with it in the present. That indeed is the point of Benjamin's expression Jetzteit which literally means 'present' but, as Hannah Arendt pointed out, Benjamin "clearly is thinking of the mystical nunc stans" (Benjamin 1992, 253). We do not have to share Benjamin's mysticism to realize that time is not quite the one-way cosmological stream that it generally seems, since in the renaming of things we can speak of the past as being adjusted by its own future, which is the point of Marx's concern with nomenclature. For what can one say of James Lusardi's phrase "the Theatre in the Utrecht engraving" (Lusardi 1993, 222) now that the picture is 'known' to represent not the Theatre but the Curtain? We can describe Lusardi's error in using this term, but of course our correction is provisional, just as Lusardi's view was in its adoption of Sidney Fisher's 'correction' (Fisher 1964) of Leslie Hotson's original identification of the building as the Curtain (Hotson 1954). All such corrections are provisional, and only within the nunc stans is there a singular right answer to such questions; those who do not believe in the nunc stans must make do with an endless alteration of the semi-official scholarly position engendered of debate and presentation of evidence. This alternation is an entity's trace that marks its journey through time and, pace Hawkes, certainly does not mock our attempts to reconstruct the past. Looking backward and altering the past, theatre historiography (like any other) rearranges the past in ways that irrevocably change it, for--working at the lowest possible level of cognition--a renamed object is a wholly different object. Benjamin's 'angel of history', on the other hand, signally fails to do this:
His face is turned towards the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. This storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress. (Benjamin 1992, 249)
Benjamin's angel is not historiography but history, and it does not see linear time but "one single catastrophe". This appears to be the nunc stans, and yet the angel is moving in space that represents time: backwards into the future. Benjamin's angel faces backwards because Kabbalistic Judaism permits no speculation on the future, and there we must break with Benjamin. Rewriting the past is an activity bound to change the present and the future, and a politicized historicism that overstates the alterity of the past cannot imagine what the future could be like. There is, of course, a grave danger in the liberal reformers' conception of a future that is like the present only slightly less cut-throat and individualistic, but conversely an utterly transfigured future is only possible if it remains within the realm of the imaginable.
1A typical corrollary has been, 'and so beyond the reach of anti-theatricalists', but the early-twentieth century theatrical history model of a puritan city harrying the players and a fun-loving court protecting them has recently been revised. Margot Heinemann showed that puritans were not simply anti-theatrical and many anti-theatricalists were not puritans (Heinemann 1980). Scott McMillin and Sally-Beth MacLean showed that we can no longer imagine that theatre companies were merely a representative component of humanism's break from religious ideology; the Queen's men formation, for example, was a result of motives "not so much humanist as royalist and Protestant" (McMillin & MacLean 1998, 34). The relationship between court and city regarding the theatre industry is better understood as a dialectic than a mere struggle, and one largely responsible for the rapid growth of the joint-stock playing companies, at least until Charles 1's succession in 1625, whereafter the players were increasingly aligned solely with the court.
2For a concise account of the shifts in the meaning of 'historicism', see the afterword to Wells 2000, 207-15.
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