Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Theatre & Dance

First Advisor

Oliver Gerland

Second Advisor

James Symons

Third Advisor

Richard Devin


This dissertation charts the historical development of the use of analogy by stage directors in twentieth-century American Shakespeare productions. Directorial analogy, the technique of resetting a play into a new time, place or culture that resembles or echoes the time, place or culture specified by the playwright, enables directors to emphasize particular themes in a play while pointing out its contemporary relevance. As the nineteenth century ended, William Poel and Harley Granville-Barker rejected the pictorial realism of the Victorian era, seeking ways to recreate the actors-audience relationship of the Elizabethan stage. Inspired by their work, Barry Jackson and the Birmingham Repertory Theatre discover the power of a specific type of analogy, modern dress, in the 1920s. At the same time, Arthur Hopkins and Robert Edmond Jones were exploring the power of thematic conceptualization in the United States. Orson Welles was the first to combine analogy and thematic conceptualization in his landmark productions of Macbeth and Caesar in the 1930s. Welles's work inspired Tyrone Guthrie and John Houseman to stage analogy productions of Shakespeare's plays in the 1950s and 1960s. In the 1960s and 1970s, a new generation led by Michael Kahn and Joe Papp pushed the use of analogy further, leading to a new eclectic style of Shakespeare production. By the end of the twentieth century, analogy had become a major tool for staging the works of Shakespeare and other classic texts, though some contemporary directors find it problematic and are moving away from it.