Theatre and Metatheatre in Hamlet

Kate Flaherty

Abstract


This article examines the First Player's performance of Aeneas' Tale of Dido as a key instance of Shakespearean metatheatre, and discusses its diverse operations in three Australian productions. It argues that, as an impromptu, The Tale activates the manifold nature of play: 'play' as a game, as performance, and even as space allowed for a 'moving part'. In its self-referentiality the scene sets a test for the First Player, for the actor, for the audience, and for the particular production in which it takes place. The article addresses the pointed awareness of this 'test' and the unique responses to it evident in productions by Company B, Belvoir, Pork Chop Productions and Bell Shakespeare.

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