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Shakespeare Reshaped, 1606-1623$
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Gary Taylor and John Jowett

Print publication date: 1993

Print ISBN-13: 9780198122562

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198122562.001.0001

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The Structure of Performance Act-Intervals in the London Theatres, 1576–1642

The Structure of Performance Act-Intervals in the London Theatres, 1576–1642

(p.3) I The Structure of Performance Act-Intervals in the London Theatres, 1576–1642
Shakespeare Reshaped, 1606-1623



Oxford University Press

In analysing Shakespeare's plays, modern criticism asserts that we read between the lines but not between the acts, to look into the importance of silences and pauses for the dialogues but not the longer silences that separate five acts, and to investigate the underlying principles when a character does not speak nor act while disregarding the pauses between intervals, when all the characters stop acting, and when the play ends. This is because it has widely been believed that Shakespeare intended his plays performances not to be interrupted and that act-divisions were to be status symbols that had no significance. These assumptions were then confronted by G. K. hunter while adapting T. W. Baldwin's concepts of how a play possessed five different acts. This chapter attempts to explore the significance of act-divisions and how intervals were imposed between the acts.

Keywords:   acts, act-divisions, intervals, performances, T. W. Baldwin, five acts

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