Tag Archives: reception theory

Performance: intentions and reception

Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth

This week I’ve gone back to my research into the 1888 Lyceum Macbeth, and more broadly into nineteenth century conceptions of Lady Macbeth. So, here’s something I’ve been musing on (with reference to the lady on the left):

What does it mean when audiences and critics interpret an actor’s choice onstage (a line-reading, action, gesture, pose, motivation, whatever) in a way an actor hasn’t intended? Or even in a manner that specifically contradicts the actors’ intentions for that action (or moment, or line-reading, or gesture, or…)?

What are the issues raised? What are the implications for the actor? For the audience? For the critic? For the, er, performance historian?

I’d love to hear your views.