chapter  2
Audiences: on stage and off stage
Pages 14

Knowledgeable about the life and times of Shakespeare’s day and aware of many theories about how the world goes at present, a critic will be deeply immersed in the host of ideas which could be aroused by the enacting of a text. Which are the most significant? Which judgement should oversway others? This book will return to these questions. So far, the best answer would seem to be that those ideas that can be traced throughout the action of a play, being relevant in more than a single episode, are ones which should be given most attention. To this a proviso is necessary: any idea should be evaluated with regard to its power to entertain an audience – to awaken instinctive, sensuous, and individual responses, as well as intellectual certainty or debate about generally valid issues. We should value the plays’ openness as much as their intellectual power and effectivness.