Taking any written text through rehearsal towards performance requires diligence, patience, and incremental iteration. In the case of historically distant drama, the process is more difficult because the text was first performed in architectural and scenographic environments that no longer survive, by playing companies that bear little resemblance to modern actors and directors; moreover, literary and dramaturgical aspects of authorship are frequently figurative, allegorical, and embedded within sets of cultural understanding, theatrical practice, individual imagination, and collective experience that are difficult adequately to reconstruct. So how can we attempt to re-stage historical drama today? This keynote address triangulates three research areas – historiographical examination of early modern plays in performance; modern systems of rehearsal; and translation theory – in order to consider how concepts of 'linguistic hospitality', 'thick translation', and 'translational and performative community' can aid theatre professionals in developing work fine-tuned for historically distant material.
Citation: Billing, Christian M., ‘Historiography, Rehearsal Processes, and Performance as Translation; or, How to Stage Early Modern English Drama Today?’, Performance as Research in Early English Theatre Studies: The Three Ladies of London in Context, http://threeladiesoflondon.mcmaster.ca/par/ChristianMBilling.htm.
Dr Billing is a research scholar and theatre practitioner who has for approximately twenty years combined historiographical analyses of Classical and early modern European drama with Practice-as-Research and conventional publication-based investigations of rehearsal and performance methodologies. He is an academic who is as at home on the rehearsal room floor as he is before a keynote lectern -- and has worked practically with, and written academically about the practice of, The Royal Shakespeare Company; Shakespeare's Globe (London); Northern Broadsides; Kneehigh Theatre Company; and Toneelgroep (Amsterdam). He has published one monograph and three collections of essays on topics relating to the performance of historical and/or intercultural drama, and has written numerous additional book chapters and journal articles on the topic. He has also directed and designed over thirty productions of both classical and early modern English plays in a variety of contexts and venues as diverse as the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London and a warehouse in Leeds.