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James Wearmouth’s Things I Just Don’t Understand: 3 – Metatheatre

Hamlet at the Graveyard in Act V Scene I of Shakespeare's 'Hamlet'
Hamlet at the Graveyard in Act V Scene I of Shakespeare’s play

After a long absence from my original writings it’s time for another “James Wearmouth’s Things I Just Don’t Understand.” This week I was introduced to the realm of metatheatre: what a bizarre realm it is! Despite my greatest efforts I still have no idea what it is. Even Wikipedia doesn’t know, so how am I ever going to?

The term “metatheatre”, coined by Lionel Abel in 1963, has entered into common critical usage; however, there is still much uncertainty over its proper definition and what dramatic techniques might be included in its scope. Many scholars have studied its usage as a literary technique within great works of literature.”

Nonetheless it seems that even Shakespeare dipped his toe into the genre; examples of his plays that include the form are (apparently) A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tempest and Hamlet.

This ridiculously short article is a declaration that I don’t understand “metatheatre.”