Framing Shakespeare in New Digital Canons: Paratextual Conventions of RSC Live and NT Live

Elizabeth Sharrock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article develops an analysis of the relationship between paratextual framing and institutional identity in the body of productions broadcast to cinemas by RSC Live and NT Live, proposing that paratexts are an integral yet consistently overlooked mediator of meaning in Shakespearean live theater broadcasts. Since the National Theatre’s broadcast of All’s Well that End’s Well in 2009 and the Royal Shakespeare Company’s debut live theater broadcast of Richard II in 2013, Shakespearean performance has dominated the UK’s event cinema market. This article examines the interpretive significance of paratextual conventions developed by these two companies in negotiating institutional identity and shaping narratives of Shakespeare’s cultural value. It brings these marginal materials to the center of critical analysis, proposing an original critical vocabulary by which to examine the diversity of the broadcast paratexts which have developed around, and been shaped by, Shakespearean performance in the medium. A sustained analysis of the frames of interpretation offered in Shakespearean broadcast performances exposes the interpretive labor these marginal materials regularly perform, highlighting the value of analyzing Shakespearean live theater broadcasts holistically.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-265
Number of pages27
JournalShakespeare Bulletin
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2022


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