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Amanda Eubanks Winkler Co-authors Book on Shakespeare in Performance and Gives Talk at Yale

Eubanks-Winkler portrait

Posted on: Nov. 9, 2021

Amanda Eubanks Winkler’s latest book, Shakespeare in the Theatre: Sir William Davenant and the Duke’s Company, has now been released by Arden Shakespeare/Bloomsbury. Co-authored with theatre historian Richard Schoch, the book considers Sir William Davenant’s innovative leadership of and influence upon the Duke’s Company, one of the two London theatre companies established by royal patent in Restoration-era England.

When London theatres re-opened in 1660 upon the restoration of the monarchy, they naturally wanted to perform Shakespeare’s plays. Under the leadership of William Davenant, founder of the Duke’s Company, they did so in a radically new way. At last, women played women’s roles. Theatres moved totally indoors. Massive stage spectacles were preferred over bare platform stages. Music and dance were fully integrated into the productions. And Shakespeare’s plays were substantially rewritten: King Lear survived, the witches in Macbeth sang and danced, and Miranda in The Tempest gained a sister. Shakespeare in the Theatre: Sir William Davenant and the Duke’s Company reveals how—and why—the first generation to stage Shakespeare after Shakespeare’s lifetime changed absolutely everything.


As leader of the Duke’s Company, Davenant’s influence on the approach to Shakespeare was profound and lasting. Indeed, he controlled every aspect of theatrical production: deciding the repertoire, writing his own Shakespeare adaptations, casting actors in roles, running rehearsals, training actors, and equipping his theatre with scenery to produce stage spectacle. Yet the book is neither a biography of Davenant nor an account of strictly individual achievement. Rather, it is a study of an influential movement in Shakespeare’s theatrical afterlife, a movement exemplified by Davenant and the Duke’s Company that influenced productions of Shakespeare for the next two hundred and fifty years.

This book arose in part from Eubanks Winkler’s and Schoch’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK)-funded research project “Performing Restoration Shakespeare,” which emphasized practice-based research on Davenant’s adaptations of The Tempest and Macbeth. Scenes from The Tempest were staged at Shakespeare’s Globe, London in 2017 and a full Equity production of the Restoration Macbeth was mounted at the Folger Theatre, Washington, D.C. in 2018.

In celebration of their book and their work to revive Restoration Shakespeare, Eubanks Winkler and Schoch were invited to speak at the Yale Renaissance Colloquium in November. Their talk, “Performing Restoration Shakespeare,” wove together anecdotes about the pleasures and pitfalls of staging Restoration Shakespeare today with historical information about Davenant’s productions.