Ophelia's intertheatricality or how performance is history

Gina Bloom, Anston Bosman, William N. West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Much recent scholarship on performance has treated it as a disappearing act or "missed event," overlooking how performance overflows any one historical context and mobilizes across time. In contrast, taking the performance of Ophelia as an example, this essay describes performance as a nonlinear and recursive dispensation of time that draws on a shared repertoire of actions and styles, which it calls "intertheatricality." Rather than presenting a straightforward performance history of Ophelia, the essay uses Ophelia to advance a view of performance as itself a kind of history of theatre. Actors playing Ophelia do not build on or inherit earlier performances so much as gather and recycle them, setting out familiar elements for future enaction. Each performance gesture makes a history as much as it is made from one, and each contributes to a future repertoire.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-182
Number of pages18
JournalTheatre Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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