Friday, January 21, 2011

The Rarer Action :: a sneak preview

I am beyond excited to share some really amazing news! I just received an email this morning notifying me that an abstract I submitted to a journal this fall was accepted for publication! I've been pinching myself for the last twelve hours. What an amazing opportunity -- to be published in my first year of graduate school. WHAT?!?!?! At some point soon, I need to quell this excitement enough to revise and expand my paper into a journal article for 

Cahiers n°5 - The Rhetoric of Violence in the Early Modern Era.

At the moment, I am still basking so please enjoy the abstract I submitted. I think I like it! And it's a good thing, too, since I will be spending the next several months working on it. After our amazing read-throughs today for Titus and Tempest (separate post to follow), I am even more excited about this article. Next up... turning it into a conference proposal!



“The Rarer Action”: The Transformation of Shakespeare’s Revenge Play
from Titus Andronicus to The Tempest

Tara Bradway - Doctoral Fellow, English, St. John’s University, New York, USA
  Artistic Director, Adirondack Shakespeare Company

The purpose of this article is to combine a literary analysis of violence and revenge in Titus Andronicus and The Tempest with an evaluation of its physical representation in a specific dual theatrical production of these two plays. 
By considering unusual pairings of characters across the two plays, I seek to answer how the notion of vengeance has entirely transformed from Titus Andronicus to The Tempest. I am specifically examining how the portrayal of violence has altered through doubling the roles of Lavinia and Caliban as played by the same actor. In Titus Andronicus, Lavinia offers perhaps the starkest image in all of Shakespeare of the tortured body. Although the notion of revenge is quite transformed by the end of The Tempest, the tortured body is not absent from this play. Caliban, styed in the hard rock (1.2.342-3) and threatened with physical punishment by Prospero, uses language and curses to cope with this abuse.  Lavinia, deprived of her tongue and hands, must find an alternative means of communication to discover her torture to others. I am interested in examining how the use of language becomes a means of coping with torture. For these two characters, language operates as a way to feed the cycle of vengeance. How is this cycle broken?
I will be exploring this question in a dual theatrical production of Titus Andronicus and The Tempest entitled “The Bookend Project” which I will be directing in February, 2011. For this project, I am employing a company of thirteen actors who are cast in multiple roles in both plays in order to explore the ways in which different characters handle or are subjected to the violence of revenge. This article will discuss how my production with the Adirondack Shakespeare Company specifically addresses the portrayal on stage of Lavinia’s tortured body in Titus Andronicus and of Caliban’s in The Tempest by the same actor. Overall, in this production I plan to analyze the arc of Shakespeare’s revenge play from the very beginning to the end of his career, examining the transformation of violence from vengeance to virtue.


  1. OK, so I understand NOTHING from your article, except this: it is beautiful and intellectual and my lord woman, you are farking brilliant. I mean, I don't study Shakespear, so I don't understand what you're saying, really. But I read it, really read it. And was incredibly impressed with your writing and my inability to comprehend it. :) You are awesome. Write on, my friend, write on!

  2. Thank you for your lovely words!! I think it makes more sense if you're familiar with both plays -- it is definitely a "niche" work! But seriously, your comment warmed my heart. :)

  3. Tara,

    Congratulations!! That is fabulous news! I read and understood (at least partially) the premise and it sounds really interesting! I've never seen/read Titus Andronicus but I saw The Tempest many years ago.

    Congrats! And good luck!


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