by Richard Beacham
Department of Theatre Studies,
University of Warwick

There is a nicely surreal moment in Plautus' play, Pseudolus (lines 613-15), when Pseudolus has disguised himself, and, as he confides in an aside to the audience, is setting out to trick another character, Harpax.[1] Upon meeting the disguised Pseudolus, Harpax says in an aside to the audience,

"This man is bad news!"

Pseudolus responds, also in an aside to the audience, "The gods are on my side! This guy's a regular anvil on which I'll hammer out a heap of hoaxes today!"

Harpax, overhearing, then says in another aside to the audience, "Why is he talking to himself?"

The interesting thing about such a moment, is that the character can simultaneously use a theatrical convention himself (that is to say, he can acknowledge the audience's presence, by addressing it); while at the same time, he refuses to allow that the second character could use the same convention, and instead points out -- to the audience of course -- that that character must be talking to himself. In other words, as a student once wrote in an essay, "such a character stands simultaneously with one foot firmly in the real world; while, with the other, he embraces the world of 'make believe'".

I sometimes think that the theatre historian occupies such an ambiguous, not to say, uncomfortable, position. On the one hand, concerned as one must be with the ephemeral art and artifice of historical performance, and consequently, its analysis, one's scholarly credentials are always considered at least slightly exotic (if not suspect) by, for example, philologists or archaeologists. At the same time -- and in moments of rising paranoia one is tempted to say, increasingly -- those who are concerned with making theatre view our concerns and preoccupations as at best an irrelevant distraction, or at worst an annoying obstacle to "putting the show on the road". They are unlikely to rush to enrol in a theatre historical course entitled, say "Ancient Theatre: How it Got That Way". Those of us who took our bearings from positivist principles and methodology in the "great age before the flood", sometimes experience a degree of disorientation in the new landscape that has emerged, where nothing seems, it seems, to be what it "seemed" or was "deemed" to be.

Now of course, the paradoxical position of theatre history in one sense simply reflects the object of its contemplation: the theatre. As the great director Max Reinhardt said of his work, "I have spent my entire life on the meandering border between fantasy and reality, smuggling goods back and forth".[2]

Theatre is itself constantly engaged in a process of cultural exchange -- mediated through imagination -- between itself and other institutions, practices, modes of perception, and of course the concrete artefacts and the artifices of life. These things are in the most literal sense, "essential": they are crucial to the process both of composing works of theatre (drama) and in turn for the alchemy of transformation through which such works are eventually performed. Then, in turn, a vast range of cultural factors conditions the reception by the audience. One of the most fascinating and volatile aspects of this process of exchange and "barter" is that those composing the presentation, can never fully anticipate how what they have fashioned, including of course the manner in which their creation responds to and draws upon the materials of culture, will at the moment and place of performance be perceived, experienced or "interpreted" by either the individual spectators, or collectively by the audience.

When, as theatre historians, we attempt to "recover" or excavate -- on unstable and slippery ground -- the cultural elements that comprised and conditioned the original historical text and its performance, we soon realise that the task is essentially subjective, and to a degree arbitrary. Each of us will be guided by our own interests, favourite theories, and bright ideas, but however triumphantly we may display our discoveries, insights, and famous victories, there is always that figure standing beside us in the chariot, whispering into our ear, "remember, vain man, you are only mortal". Meanwhile, catcalls from the crowd of sceptics (and rivals) pressing from either side, remind us that to recover meaning is dubious; to translate is impossible, and that even the physical staging conditions of past performance (much less the essential conventions) are largely irrecoverable. Even to talk too much about ancient masterpieces, is to risk being deemed elitist, or worse. And in any case, no one except antiquarians seems particularly interested.

Therefore, with due regard for such difficulties and with such doubts firmly in mind, but also noting that, nevertheless, its does seem possible to present Plautus successfully before contemporary audiences, I want to identify some ideas I find suggestive, and approaches I have found useful. Although some of the elements conditioning the audience actor relationship to which I refer may plausibly be argued to have operated in antiquity, my discussion is concerned with production and reception, here and now.


Recently performance analysis has drawn upon the theories put forward some years ago by Erving Goffman, about the manner in which human beings develop a complex system for "framing" experience.[3] Through the use of and movement between multiple frames, we categorise our social interactions, the manner in which we understand and attribute meaning to events, and perceive, for example, conventions governing aesthetic presentation and response, and the permissible means of "smuggling" between fantasy and reality.

When we attend the theatre, we initiate a juxtaposition between at least two different frames or set of frames. We, members of the audience, function initially within and with regard for the primary "real world" frameworks as we get to the theatre, take a seat, observe the other spectators and the physical circumstances within the theatre, think about our post-performance plans for dinner and the like, and generally await the start of the show. As soon as that happens, we immediately encounter, and condone, activity perceived to be within a different frame; that of the "onstage world" of alternative realities. I say, "condone" because by convention as audience members attending a play, we recognise and acquiesce to a special type of activity substantially different from that more commonly experienced: a mimetic activity presented, as it were, in quotation marks. It requires and receives a different type of response from us than events taking place in a "real world" frame.

Now one of the first things we are likely to encounter in a performance of Plautus is that these two frames are not hermetically sealed off from one another; rather the stage world and the real world are allowed to collide, or even to collude. In other words, Plautus is not attempting to create "dramatic illusion", or indeed to test the limits of drama. He is instead making a "reality" on stage (the "onstage World"). As my colleague at Warwick, Dr. Hugh Denard, pointed out in an unpublished article several years ago, through the operation of this Plautus "lays bare the reality of the different levels of consciousness and perception that determine how we make sense of the world. To this end, the playwright manipulates, contorts and confuses the tensions between the many ideas of realty within the theatre - and ultimately within the entire Roman cosmos - and, being a comedian, he causes us to laugh at the whole absurd plan".

This can indeed be a powerful source of fun. For example, the characters placed before us on stage are not (or at least pretend not to be) entirely contained within the theatrical frame, but rather intrude into the real world of the audience, by directly addressing it, as it were, "here and now". Moreover, in the case of the speaker of the prologue, whom we are prone to regard as a "denizen" of the stage world, the character (or is he the actor?) in fact mingles with the inhabitants of the real world in which the spectators are located, thus effecting a transgression which, by causing a clash of incompatible frames, can release powerful sensations. Not only is the audience's "space" invaded, but also at the same time, its position is partly dismantled, because the communication and activity is in two directions: spectators are forced through their response to collaborate in the unreality of the stage world.

By way of illustrating this phenomenon, we can consider the opening prologue of the Casina:
The prologue enters and begins. Who is he? He speaks as if he is an ancient actor addressing ex tempore an ancient audience, attending a revival of a popular play by Plautus. But his lines are scripted in the ancient text, and he is a modern actor, pretending to be an ancient actor, while nevertheless speaking to a modern audience, also attending a (rather more belated), revival of the play. He asks his ancient audience to show good faith by applauding. The modern one duly does so. He makes a joke about how much better the "old" plays were than the "modern" ones, and notes that some in the audience will recall Plautus, but notes "You younger folks who don't remember Plautus, we'll also do our best to win your plaudits, with such a lay! The greatest glory of its age, once more before you on a modern stage!" The audience warm to the role in which they have been cast: simultaneously being addressed as if some of them were over 22 centuries years old, while also acknowledging that indeed modern plays -- here and now -- can be a bit tedious.

He next urges his ancient audience "away with sorrowing, thoughts about your borrowing, not to mention work! It's fun and games, so put your cares away, Why even bankers get a holiday". The modern audience are able simultaneously to evoke in their mind's eye that ancient audience, not because it is them, but because they know that they too are being addressed analogously, here and now. The prologue gives the background to the plot. The situation, although ancient, involves sexual jealousy, intrigue, deception, marital infidelity and conflict, and much more besides, none of which -- mirabile dictu -- seems entirely unfamiliar to the contemporary audience. At least, they get the jokes.

And they get the jokes in part because the frame of the stage world in which we normally expect different or at least substantially modified rules to apply (particularly in the case of an ancient play) has the capacity to surprise us when we encounter something familiar. A directly recognisable situation or reference emanating from the ancient and theatrical world can convey an ironic allusion to our own. This can be a powerful perceptual and learning experience.

There is then a surreally meta-theatrical joke, asking the audience not to expect a particular character (who figures in the plot's background) to appear in the play. "Oh, a minor point and rather sad to say, that son who went abroad won't make it back today. Plautus changed his mind and dropped him from out play, by washing out a bridge that lay upon his way". One seems to be in the world of Tom Stoppard, in which the conventions of a play -- indeed the very idea of a play -- are being subverted by treating a fictional genre and its creation as if it they were subject to the normal rules of actual existence. It's what one of my students (in an inspired malapropism) recently referred to as a "Verdamntkunstwerk". The frame of the stage world won't "stay put", but instead threatens to dismantle itself and dissolve into a giddy twilight zone somewhere in the no-man's land between incompatible frames. But then there is a passage about the customs governing slaves, and references to Carthage, the Greeks and Apulia, which seem to return us securely to the world of antiquity. The prologue next proposes a wager to the ancient/modern audience. "I'll bet a drink…Well, now's your chance, come on, speak up! (The ancient text-bound audience is silent). Not got the nerve to bet, or anything to say? On second thought, I'll bet…you've drunk enough today! The modern audience laughs knowingly.

The prologue concludes with words that raise all sorts of difficulties in terms of logic, verisimilitude, ethics, reality and illusion and frames within frames. He promises the ancient -- and contemporary -- audience that the girl, Casina, will prove to be freeborn Athenian, and won't be corrupted, "not in this play at any rate. But just you wait, till the play is done to date her. For a little money, she's anyone's honey, and the marriage can wait for later!" The fact is that the girl, Casina, will not be presented in the play at all (which might have been named "Waiting for Casina"), and thus, dramaturgically, does not exist, and nor of course does she "really" exist. If she were presented, a male actor would portray her on stage. In the plot of the play she is impersonated by a male slave, pretending to be Casina. So once again we have a surreal compounding and confounding of metaphysics and metatheatre.

When the performance next moves into the actual body of the play itself, things can become even more confused for a modern audience. It is important for us to remember that it is a particular audience at a particular place and occasion, which must make sense of the play. Because they know that the play is ancient, their perception of the performance will inevitably and automatically be "framed" and its meaning understood as a function of its special relationship with the past.

The play has a story to tell, which it presents within the frame of the stage world. Like any play, the world it presents to us is an alternative universe, drawing upon the materials of real life, but organising and presenting these according to rules which constantly call into question, and require that we view ironically, the conditions governing life in the real, non-stage world. As the stage world moves further away from external realism, its distance (a type of alienation effect) comments upon subjective experience in the everyday world. Plautus, as has been widely observed, is constantly calling attention to the artificiality of his characters, primarily through the language that he gives them, but also through the tendency by some of them (Pseudolus is a prime example) to appropriate the world playfully; and a facility for quirky associations and sideways leaps of logic. The tension such behaviour creates between its frame and the frame of ordinary life as it is experienced, can be highly amusing, and also conveys a lot of meaning.

But beyond this, Plautus' actors (who constantly transcend the roles of the characters they nominally represent) extend this playfulness by sometimes dismantling any notion of dramatic illusion. In Casina (line 902), a character is encouraged by the other actors to give the details of his comic comeuppance because "it will be a good lesson for our audience". At the conclusion of this play, Lysidamus, the wayward husband, is forgiven by his wife in order, as she says, "to keep a long play from being any longer" (line 1006) . In Pseudolus, a slow-witted character enquiring after the plot, is told, "I'll tell you in due course, I don't want to repeat myself; plays are long enough as they are"(line 388). Later, when the same character again asks for direction, Pseudolus responds "Now look. This play's being performed to entertain our audience. They were here, and know all about it already. I'll fill you in later" (line 720-1).

Pseudolus is in fact a prime example of the manner in which Plautus creates not dramatic illusion, but an alternative stage reality. "Through the play's concern with acting and playing roles, its constant references to the theatre, direct acknowledgement of the audience's presence, parodies of various stage conventions, its inherently metaphorical structure, it is, paradoxically, not illusion that Plautus gives his audience, but an alternative on-stage reality". (Denard, 1992)

The conditions governing a stage world's alternative universe, as well as its meta-theatrical moments in which those conditions are deliberately allowed to lapse, can deliver a powerful ironic "charge" to an audience's reception of any play. But, in addition, in the case of an ancient play, there is simultaneously a tension and disorientation created between our notion of real life, and that which obtained in antiquity. In other words, the modern spectator is confronted both by the "alternative universe" of the play, and also by the perceived "shadow" of the "alternative universe" of real life in antiquity to which the ancient play is constantly referring, albeit in a playful manner that makes it difficult to determine the reliability of its references.

And, because Plautus' actors repeatedly address the audience, and often refer to the play itself, the modern audience must also keep that ancient audience in mind, or even imaginatively assume its part. In the Curculio, (lines 461 ff.) for example, an actor, presenting himself as the property manager of the company makes a cameo appearance to comment on the play, straddling frames by noting that one of the dramatic characters is such a rogue, he doubts whether "I'll get back those costumes I hired out". He then passes the time by giving the audience the "low-down" on the interesting parts not of Epidaurus, where the play is notionally set, but explicitly, Rome -- ancient Rome -- where the performance is purporting to be taking place, although of course for the modern audience, it is doing no such thing. Such moments can be multiplied many-fold in the Plautine repertory.

The spectator frequently has a privileged position in regard to some stage worlds. In the case of Plautine performance, part of this derives as I have suggested from the fact that the modern audience is within one frame imaginatively being invited to think of itself as present at a performance taking place in antiquity, and we "know the story" of antiquity. In addition, as the story is presented, we may know more than some or all of the characters about the true nature of the fictive situation being enacted and can therefore gain pleasure form observing the unfolding of events in the plot. But beyond this, in Plautine plays, one or more characters unstably residing within the play itself often has a similarly privileged knowledge. In Pseudolus, for example, the eponymous character explicitly presents himself as a "playwright", fashioning the plot by and around himself as the play unfolds. "You're on your own Pseudolus…Well, after all, that's how a poet works when he takes up his pen in hot pursuit of something that doesn't exist, yet somehow finds it and fashions fantasy into fact. I fancy I'll play the poet now." (lines 395 ff.)


Adolphe Appia pointed out that, in the theatre, scenic illusion is the living presence of the actor.[4] The actor is the "bearer of meanings" smuggled between the fictional realm of the "onstage world" and the "real world" from which the audience has come, and to which it will return. Although we still tend to privilege the written text in terms of how a stage world is defined and constructed, it is crucial to remember that, particularly for Plautus, the written word requires its delivery not by the reader, but as vocalised and indeed, embodied by the actor on stage. The term "physical comedy" should be seen to encompass not just the notion of knock-about farce but beyond this, the realisation that in such a play gesture and action are not just the result or even the expression of the emotion; they are the emotion.

In observing the plight of characters in situations in which the world seems to have been pushed to manic extremes of psychic distress and physical torment, it is through a kind of bodily sympathy and understanding that we perceive the cosmic and comic dislocation of their world. Through our own bodied consciousness, we know that indeed that is how life often feels, and when a Plautine character "explodes", or starts or stutter, or engage in vocal play, or inflicts or receives violence, we know where it comes from. We measure life outside the theatre with that unfolding onstage, and the connections we make are often the source of the humour we feel as participants in the theatrical experience. We may imaginatively condone vast discrepancies between the onstage and offstage worlds, but still expect, in order for the transaction to be valid, that there is at least some shared currency between the two. We also experience a sort of redemptive joy when, following the graphic presentation of characters' plights, the play's participants are ultimately spared the real life consequences.

When, some five years ago, I was invited to help plan, prepare, and provide both a stage setting and translation for a production of Roman comedy in a garden at the Getty Museum, I was intrigued. It offered it seemed, a most promising place to experiment, fantasise, improvise, and in a word "play" with Plautus. A place for artifice. But, of course, I soon realised that the garden at the Getty villa is not your ordinary common garden-variety sort of garden. Located in the inner, small peristyle of the replica Roman villa, (dreamed and conjured up in a lotus land setting by Mr. Getty) it was, from a post-positivist perspective, (and switching metaphors) in "the very belly of the beast"! It is literally contained -- surrounded -- by assertive, authoritative, (hegemonic and egomaniacal) architecture. And to make matters even more problematic, the encompassing building contains the ultimate affront: a repository for showcasing artefacts, it forefronts what is claimed and presented to be "hard" evidence, displayed, labelled, interpreted, boxed, classified, and above all, indisputably there.

Moreover, this particular garden seemed far more formal than fecund: rigidly laid out, overshadowed by columns, its severity was only partly redeemed by the replica ancient bronze dancing maidens, frozen in their gestures of sensual defiance, who would in any case be sent into exile (together with the shrubbery) during the production, to be replaced by living spectators. And what, under such circumstances, would these spectators expect?

Considering the sort of framing experience and expectations by which an audience finding itself in such a museum setting would be conditioned, any presentation of ancient theatre boxed into the Getty garden, might well and truly claim, "we was framed!" With such massive pre-conditioning in place, how could a production possibly hope to redeem itself from the thrall of historicist antiquarianism? How could one prepare a translation that could "stand up" to such a challenge?

The process I engaged in while preparing my translation might be termed "an inexact séance". I found it useful to listen, quietly and attentively, to some disembodied voices. The garden is dark, but animated. What do we hear? Well, the very first line of the first scene of the Casina (lines 89 ff.) might give one pause for thought. The voice says to whomever is listening, including the translator, "Non mihi licere meam rem me solum, ut volo, loqui atque cogitare, sine ted arbitro? Quid tu, malum, me sequere?" Which, literally translated, admonishes, "Can't I talk as I wish, and use my mind to mind my own business, without being overheard, gallows bird, by you? WHY are you following me?"

It is uncannily as if the character -- or at least his voice -- is actually protesting to the impudent and intrusive translator, "Go away! Leave us alone! Make up your own voices, and words, actions, and scenic simulacra of characters. I am a figure who is part of the distant history of western society; in speaking to me, or trying to make me speak to you, you are disturbing the past, and it may disturb you. Why attempt to raise the dead?"

Suddenly it seems that our solitary eavesdropper is no longer in a nocturnal garden, but instead within an equally powerful and familiar "iconic" locale in western literature -- a favourite of renaissance plays and modern horror films -- the scholar's midnight study, pondering and pushing the boundaries of what it is proper or safe to know.

In the next line of Plautus' play, a second voice, opposing the first, and almost as if responding on our behalf, encourages us to press on with our attempt to listen and learn. "Quia certum est mihi, quasi umbra, quoquo tu ibis, te semper seque." "You might as well know, I am resolved to go, wherever you go. Just like your shadow, I'll follow". Fools rush in. And Faustian bargains are struck, as we embark on the perilous path of translation, with all its pitfalls, deceits, and betrayals. Indeed, the following line throws us our first challenge, as the second voice continues, "Quin edepol etiam si in crucem vis pergere, sequi decretumst." Literally translated this voice has said, "By Pollux, even if you go onto the cross, I am determined to follow".

This, if I may say so, brings us, quite literally, to the "crux" of the matter. Or more accurately, the first of many. Crucifixion may have been a source of fun within the ethical value system of an ancient Roman audience, but for a modern one, the idea is hardly a "laugh riot". Indeed for a good portion of the spectators jokes about the subject are highly offensive. The problem one faces moreover, is not just the pragmatic one of trying to keep a comedy comic for a contemporary audience, while still retaining some degree of "accuracy" in translation: it is the even more troubling challenge that in translating and presenting such a play, and encouraging an audience to engage with, experience and respond to it as an act of theatre, one runs the risk of affirming the ideologies, values, prejudices and a great many other problematic and unsavoury things that have left their "imprint" upon the ancient text. So the translator, with a dawning awareness of what he has got himself into, makes the first of many compromises, and fashions the line as "By golly, even if you're strung up on the cross, I'll string along!"

When preparing the translation, I felt compromised by remarks I had made earlier when I spoke at the Getty on the subject of translation. I had concluded my talk then by suggesting that in effect laughter makes the whole world kin, ancient and modern: I appealed to the notion of "universalism", asserting that "Man, is philosophically distinguished from other animals by his self-conscious mind and its awareness of itself. And one uniquely human, and commonplace expression of this self-consciousness is laughter. It arises from such social and psychological tensions as those engendered by the relations between the sexes, class conflict, generational antagonism, self-conscious reactions to disparities of power and authority, and ultimately the deepest redemptive laughter arises from our sense of the absurdity of our own mortality. Because these qualities are common to all humanity, they empower an ancient comedy to continue to function as a living act of theatre: to seem, in a word 'funny'. Because man is 'the laughing animal', when we manage to tune into that cosmic laughter, transmitted from the lost continent of the past, 22 centuries ago, we are astonished and, at length delighted and moved to hear not alien voices, but our own".

The "universalist" position is a rather beleaguered one these days, as the gathering forces of cultural relativism surge around it. Listening to these voices, we have to ask ourselves "what about the specific historicity of the language, which is an emanation of a particular society and culture? What about the fact the characters are only one particular historical concept of identity, or as Ericka Fischer-Lichte has written, that "The identity of the dramatic character onstage points to and participates in two different discourses: that of the culture (epoch/society) within which the play was written, and that of the contemporary culture. Thus the identity of the dramatic character onstage always represents a certain kind of mediation between a former culture and this culture."[5] That is one of the reasons, of course, why some jokes "work" and others don't. But, beyond this, the actors also underscore through their living presence, the issue of our relationship to the play as an artefact from the past.

It is precisely over this process of mediation that the translator uncomfortably presides, as moderator. And just as we gather our courage to try to clothe these characters like a tailor's dummy "with something old, something new, and something borrowed"; as we hang our words upon them, or make them to speak like a ventriloquist's puppet, another disconcerting thought arises. Perhaps they're not really meant to be human at all! Perhaps what we call "characters" are only an arrangement of words and expressive elements brought together on stage in various relationships, as they are enacted by a performer in that highly artificial, continuously self-conscious event called "a play". And that even when this play was first formulated, it was conditioned by and responded to all sorts of customs, expectations, conventions and the like which are now quite inaccessible to us. That plays are ultimately only acts of rhetoric with their own reality for which external reality, or verisimilitude, even if we could ascertain what that was (or should be for us), is of little significance.

Faced with such problems, this is the point where a demoralised translator either abandons his watch, or decides self-consciously (like Pseudolus) to fashion through artifice a new artefact, the value of which is that as an analogy, it playfully creates for the audience the "illusion" that these alien voices are communicating with us directly from antiquity.

Thus, metaphorically, he pushes on into the night, in pursuit of the voices still variously whispering or resonating around him in the "forbidden" garden. The opening scene of Casina continues. The voices argue; and, the translator flails about trying to snare them in his net like butterflies, to pen them down to some stable and fixed meaning. "Quid ais, impudens? Quid in urbe reptas, vilice haud magni preti? "What's that you creep? Why are you creeping around the town, you oversized overseer?"

The scene goes on; what appears to be a sexual rivalry between the two voices over a third character, Casina, is evoked, and the tone seems to turn nasty and teasing, as one voice threatens the other. The translator tries to keep it funny, and tries to keep it "accurate".

And again, almost as if speaking on the persistent translator's behalf, the second voice ends the opening scene, saying, "I'll follow you. By Pollux you won't get away with anything. Not while I'm around!" Good, we seem to be getting on quite well! The scene makes sense, the characters seem recognisable, the conflict is plausible and indeed familiar, and the jokes work. So we can sit back and enjoy the rest of the play.

If only it were that simple! It is important for us to remind ourselves once again that it is a particular audience at a particular place and occasion, which must make sense of this and other scenes. The audience creates the meaning. The audience will not just be relating to any play; they will be self-consciously relating to an ancient play. This, potentially, is a powerful emotional as well as intellectual stimulant for them.

A major part of the experience for this audience is to know "what" they are seeing. So what are they seeing? The performer and the language given to him must 1) mediate between our concept of ancient Rome and our understanding of our own moment --- now; 2) mediate between the "real" world and the play world; 3) mediate between the ancient "real" world and the ancient play world; 4) mediate between some ancient notion of the representation of "reality" in "Greece" (where the play is notionally set) and that which operated at Rome

Perhaps we should try to feel less anxious and apologetic, and instead more assertive and positive about the task we've taken on. This is not just a matter of whistling in the dark garden to keep up our courage, but rather to recognise that while the production of ancient theatre raises certain problems, we also have the means to address them. If a play seems foreign, or its value system remote, even perverse; if we suspect that its original "message" for its audience was either markedly different from that which a contemporary audience is likely to understand or accept, or indeed if that original message is entirely "irrecoverable" by us, then let us use the fact to reveal and explore these qualities rather than be intimidated by them. Let us give our spectators the credit they deserve to be able to think, judge, learn and evaluate critically (as well as experience on an aesthetic or emotional level), what they see, just as they employ these qualities in confronting all the other elements from a remote and ancient culture, when these are encountered in the classroom or museum.

Another revelation. The sorts of frames that I have outlined need not be obstacles or hurdles, but rather windows of opportunity, even gateways to new modes of perception. Through the exhibitions, lectures, symposia, and related presentations that might be associated with a particular production, we can identity, investigate, conceptualise and contextualise the issues raised by a play, as an extension or, if appropriate, an alternative to the way in which these may have been formulated and explored through the production itself. And let's try to have some fun! Instead of being intimidated by the "brave new World" of cultural relativism, let us welcome its invitation to come and play in the garden. And let's remember too, Max Reinhardt's observation, "the theatre belongs to the theatre. I believe in the immortality of the theatre. It is the happiest hiding place for those who have secretly put their childhood into their pocket, and made off to play with it to the end of their days."[6]

Postlude: Stage Setting and Space

Richard Beacham
University of Warwick