The Folger Shakespeare Library

“A whole theatre of others”: Amateur Acting and Immersive Spectatorship in the Digital Shakespeare Game Play the Knave


This essay uses the case study of the digital game Play the Knave to unpack the historical and theoretical value of declamatory acting to Shakespeare performance. Analysis of the game as a digital object and observations of people playing it when it has been installed in Shakespeare theaters and arts venues reveal continuities between the material practices of acting in Shakespeare’s day and our own, as players adopt a declamatory style of gesture when they play. We maintain that in much the way the declamatory style functioned in the early modern period as a sign of and a means for amateur performance, so this style can facilitate and mediate communal, collaborative Shakespeare theater today, helping to develop among a wide public new pleasures and competencies in Shakespeare performance.