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Digital Wizardry: The Afterlives of the Offstage

Pascale Aebischer

Pages 221 - 241



This publication is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons License Attribution - NonCommercial - NoDerivatives 4.0.

This essay considers how the offstage, which in early modern dramaturgy is often associated with shapeshifting, obscene, strange, and disturbing acts that threaten to pull the focus away from dominant plotlines and ideological structures, has been re-imagined in made-for-digital productions of early modern drama since 2020. It focuses on Macbeth, directed for Big Telly by Zoë Seaton in 2020, and The Witch of Edmonton, directed for Creation Theatre by Laura Wright in 2022. Both deploy the obscene dramaturgies of the offstage to draw attention to the real-life experiences of the women the plays associate with demonic forces, highlighting their domestic oppression and exposure to violence (in Macbeth) and their historical persecution for suspected witchcraft (in The Witch of Edmonton). Digital theatre thus creates an afterlife for the offstage that thrives on the tension between what is included in the fictional frame and the traumatic lived experiences that lie just beyond it.

Keywords: Digital theatre, Creation Theatre, Big Telly, Macbeth, Witch of Edmonton, virtual theatre


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