Presupposing no specialist musical knowledge, this book offers a fresh perspective on the dramatic role of music in the plays of Shakespeare and his early seventeenth-century contemporaries. Simon Smith argues that many plays used music as a dramatic tool, inviting culturally familiar responses to music from playgoers. Music cues regularly encouraged audiences to listen, look, imagine or remember at dramatically critical moments, shaping meaning in plays from The Winter's Tale to A Game at Chess, and making theatregoers active and playful participants in playhouse performance. Drawing upon sensory studies, theatre history, material texts, musicology and close reading, Smith argues for the importance of music in familiar and less well-known plays including Antony and Cleopatra, Othello, The Revenger's Tragedy, Sophonisba, The Spanish Gypsy and A Woman Killed With Kindness.
Simon Smith is Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon and the Department of English Literature, University of Birmingham. He has published widely on music in Shakespeare and early modern drama and co-edited The Senses in Early Modern England, 1558-1660 (with Jackie Watson and Amy Kenny, 2015). His theatre-historical research informed the design of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare's Globe and he has provided historical music research - and occasionally musical direction - for many productions including Twelfth Night and Richard III at Shakespeare's Globe in 2012, The Tragedie of Cleopatra in 2013 at University College London and Wolf Hall on the BBC in 2015.