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HenryDid you think we’d be done with Shakespeare after the 23rd? Not so!

My friend Davide, over at Karavansara, knows of my Shakespeare obsession… Well, perhaps it is more of an Elizabethan obsession, with a soft spot for Shakespeare and a softer spot for Marlowe – but because it is longish this way, “a Shakespeare obsession” is good enough most of the time.

So, Davide knows, and, being much better at browsing the net, keeps bringing to my attention Shakespearean bits upon juicy Shakespearean bits…

The last trove was this post on Atlas Obscura, showing a little collection of what the site calls “gloriously melodramatic portraits of 19th Century Shakespearean actors”. Like the one here left, showing George Rignold en Henry V.

And yes, they are melodramatic – both because they reflect the theatrical convention of another era and because they are supposed to represent and concentrate in a single still image the recognizable idea of a character – and perhaps even a whole play.

Look at Ellen Terry, leaving us in no doubt about what Scottish lady she is playing, or the brooding Hamlet, the scowling Iago, the pining Juliet… It’s fascinating to see these mementos of a time when realism was the last of a player or director’s worries – and, in fact, Shakespeare was supposed to have an especially aulic quality to it. Also, it’s very interesting to observe which elements and which attitudes and expression the actor and photographer would choose to make character and play immediately recognizable…

Here is the link again. Have fun with the glorious melodrama of theatre – and theatre marketing and self-promotion – back in the day.