chapter  4
Ceremony: behaviour and reception
Pages 18

Such formalities, ceremonies, or little rituals would be duly represented as part of the imitation of life on the stage and send their wordless messages as part of a play's meanings. At that time, these signs could be decoded by anyone and needed no reinforcement, but to recapture them today requires very special care. Readers of a Shakespeare text are given little or no notice of ceremonial activities and may leave them out of the performance that they visualise in their mind's eye. Theatre directors frequently omit them from performance as meaningless waste of time and effort. In at least two ways the plays suffer in consequence: first, because ceremony is a natural resource of theatre; and second, because it was part of social life as Shakespeare would have known and represented it.