“I found the NOS bricolage introductions to be completely invigorating as an instructor. Instead of having the singular point of view of an editor’s introduction, my class was handed several distinct and sometimes contrasting views of scholars, editors, critics, theatregoers, actors, etc. The multiplicity of perspectives aligned with the multiplicity of perspectives that I often find in my courses. These introductions allowed my students to find a voice that spoke a sentiment similar to their own about the play while also engaging with several voices that might disagree. The bricolages’ ability to cover historical perspectives and methodologies is a perfect primer for an undergraduate class, giving them an anthology of responses from which to begin projects or papers. Each one of the quotations could have given us a whole class of discussion.
While I was worried that a list of quotations would be superficial, the opposite was true. Their easy to digest format allowed for greater student engagement with ideas fostering unique critical responses to both the quotations as well as to the plays. To give a specific example, after finishing Ttitus Andronicus, I had the class read through the bricolage, and several students were struck by Aebisher’s reminder that Lavinia is erased in the text through her lack of dialogue but that in performance she is an ever-present reminder. This performative approach resonated with my students and developed into an amazing discussion of the import of seeing Lavinia’s body continuously on the stage and how that would potentially create further sympathy, but also potentially further emphasize the horror at having to constantly confront the young woman who had been raped and mutilated. The bricolages gave them this snippet that developed into an important reminder about textual silence.
I will also add that while typical introductions may cover several points of view, often of both critical and performative approaches to the plays, they rarely have the space to do as many as these bricolages do. Their engagement with summary, assessment, and evaluation lends them less space to cover the vast variety of responses that these works have elicited over the past 400 years. The bricolage format does that comprehensively.”
Michael M. Wagoner (Florida State University) is a third-year PhD student specializing in early modern drama and performance. He has begun dissertation work in which he is investigating non-linguistic theatricality in the work of Shakespeare and his contemporary John Fletcher. He has most recently had an article published in New Theatre Quarterly and a chapter in the collection Shaping Shakespeare for Performance (Farleigh Dickinson UP, 2015). He completed his MFA and MLitt in Shakespeare and Performance at Mary Baldwin College and was a member of Roving Shakespeare, the program’s first Company Model MFA. In the theatre, he is a director, dramaturge, and actor not only for productions of Shakespeare and his contemporaries but also for modern and contemporary drama.