Pericles Deconstructed Essay - Critical Essays

Pericles Deconstructed

David Skeele, Slippery Rock University Theatre

"I do not fear the flaw. "

(act III, scene i)

One of the more pervasive images in current popular culture is that of the "channel surfer." In this image, a person (for some reason, usually a male)1 sits in the dark, staring glassily at a flickering television screen, while his hand clutches a remote control. As his finger presses down on the channel button, rhythmically, every two or three seconds, he is confronted by a quick succession of disconnected snapshots: "gangster-rap" video, wildlife documentary, sexy beer commercial, "real-life" police drama, Barney the Dinosaur, Australianrules football—the world as a bewildering array of incongruous images.2 Though it lies outside the bounds of the cliché, it would not be difficult to imagine our hypothetical channel surfer wearying of this electronic collage and attempting to focus on one program for a length of time. However, on a number of these programs—fashion shows, music videos, advertisements—he would find the same rapid-fire barrage of images being consciously employed. He would find that his restless search for instant, momentary gratification had actually become an aesthetic.

To expand the boundaries even further, let us follow our attention-deficient subject into the realm of the extremely unlikely. Let us imagine that he decided, in a fit of self-improvement, to escape the mind-numbing influence of his television by attending a live performance: a live performance scripted, of course, by the world's most recognizable icon of high culture, William Shakespeare. To his surprise, when he enters the theater, he finds that the jumbled scrap heap of images and associations that he thought he had left safely in his den has followed him into the Renaissance. Anachronistic bits of costuming and setting blend in bizarre combinations. Different scenes are played in completely different styles, as though they belonged in separate plays. Scenes are transposed, cut into smaller fragments, and scattered throughout the play. Abstract, metaphorical visual images take precedence over (and even displace) the coherence of the words and the continuity of the plot.

Now let us become truly ridiculous and suppose that our channel surfer, enraged at this perceived degradation of his aesthetic experience, consults a stack of the latest criticism in order to find the "true" meaning of the play he has just seen—to find the coherent and unified pattern that has just been so egregiously violated. What does he find instead? In one book, he finds that Shakespeare's texts consist merely of the "free play of language," isolated word fragments floating in random configurations through the void. In another, he finds that all previously discovered patterns of meaning were simply tools of a patriarchal, elitist ruling body: "cultural constructions" which must now be "deconstructed" and replaced with alternative political agendas. Thumbing through the rest of the pile, he encounters a maze of related ideas, all of which seem to come down to one basic idea: there is no pattern, there is no central meaning. Shakespeare's plays, finally, consist of jumbles of dissociated ideas and images. With a sigh, he turns on the T.Y.

This account is, of course, somewhat absurd, yet it does indeed seem that our present age is characterized by a feeling of fragmentation and that this feeling permeates everything from popular culture to the most complex levels of Shakespeare interpretation. This is not to suggest, however, that fragmentation is unique to current Shakespeare study and performance—it has been lurking in the Western psyche for a long time. Early in the century, modernist interpreters of Shakespeare were clearly aware of a growing sense of dislocation, yet their response was to fight against it by continuing to search for new unifying patterns. Many contemporary Shakespeareans, on the other hand, show a contrasting tendency to embrace the fragmentation and (while not entirely free from the anxiety that attends being adrift in a void) to revel in the freedom of being more disconnected than ever before from old biases and assumptions. It is this particular paradigm shift, perhaps more than any other, that has convinced many cultural commentators that we have entered a new age: the age of postmodernism.

With the newfound dominance of this paradigm of fragmentation, the present would seem to be a propitious time indeed for the most fractured of Shakespeare's plays. One could reasonably expect that this chapter might form the happy ending to this narrative, in which Pericles suddenly vaults to the forefront of the canon: the once "miserable" fragment now reigning supreme in a postmodern kingdom of fragments. While such a drastic change of status is still possible for Pericles—one could at least say that the idea is less ridiculous now than at any other point in the play's history—the actual situation is far more ambiguous. This ambiguity is due in part to the very contemporaneity of postmodernism. Because the present is always in a state of transition, of flux, it is impossible to know whether an essay on or production of Pericles (or any other play) represents the fruits of a coherent movement or is simply a wobbly indicator of some future trend. In the case of Pericles, the situation is complicated by the fact that few critics and directors who might be considered post-modern have yet to turn their full attention to the play. Consequently, this chapter offers hints, not certainties; not a resolution, but the suggestion of a postmodern Pericles in progress.

Literary criticism has been particularly neglectful of Pericles, though the critic's attack on textual unity significantly predated the director's. The main well-spring of the new attitude toward fragmentation is a critical philosophy, introduced by Jacques Derrida, that was unveiled in America as early as the late 1960s. Known as "deconstruction," this philosophy was originally presented as a critique of the limitations of structuralism—in fact, deconstruction is considered the first "post-structuralist" movement. Though any attempt to describe deconstruction within a space appropriate to this study will inevitably result in gross oversimplification, it is possible to elucidate several of the ways in which Derrida stretched or transcended these limitations. One of Derrida's main objections to the structuralists' method was that in attempting to fit the text into their predetermined structures, they were not really dealing with the works in their totality. Parts of the text that did not fit the model—flaws, gaps, ruptures—were being glossed over, mended, or pushed into the margins. It is precisely these flaws, Derrida suggested, that should be the focus of critical analysis, for they are the keys to the text's disunity, the refusal of its language to conform to any externally imposed framework of meaning. It was this rejection of meaning that formed the centerpiece of Derrida's argument. For while he applauded the work of structuralists in helping to destroy the myth of realizable authorial intention, he felt that they were far too timid in their liberation of the text. By replacing the imposed unity of the author with the imposed unity of "structure," he maintained, they were simply trading in one set of chains for another. Rather, he argued that one must eradicate the notion of a "presence" of any kind behind the words. One must embrace the "absolute danger"3 of breaking free from the idea of inherited meaning altogether and celebrate in its place the "free play of language."

What, then, does deconstructive criticism seek to reveal in a particular text, if it is not some inherent meaning? Answer: it usually seeks simply to reflect itself. In other words, in always seeking to prove its basic credo—that no text has inherent meaning—deconstructive criticism, at least in its purest form, ends up being primarily about deconstructive criticism.

By completely freeing texts from the authority of inherited meaning and dismissing the need for unified structure, deconstruction opened up new vistas of possibility for Shakespearean criticism. Yet, as Hugh Grady points out, the direct impact of deconstruction proper on Shakespeare-studies has been minimal. For several reasons, the theorists whom Howard Felperin calls "textual" deconstructionists4—those who use the text primarily as a proving ground for deconstruction—have mostly (though not completely) avoided Shakespeare.5 Of the "textual" critics that have chosen to deconstruct Shakespeare, virtually none have evinced interest in Pericles,

There are a couple of possible reasons for this neglect. Deconstruction is essentially a subversive act, one that takes a certain glee in dissecting the sacred cows of Western Civilization. While critical opinion of Pericles has certainly improved over the years, there is little shock value to be gained in dismantling it, as it is still one of the least sacred cows in the Shakespearean pasture. Also, a major tactic of deconstructive criticism is to attack the idea of textual unity. Here again, Pericles makes a rather unattractive target: the unity established for it by modernist critics is still so fresh, so fragile, so debatable, that the play would be a straw man to even a novice deconstructionist. Compared to a tightly structured work like Othello, whose unity has remained beyond reproach for centuries, Pericles seems to deconstruct itself.

Deconstruction's greatest impact on Shakespeare interpretation has been indirect, as its influence has rippled outward into several schools of criticism that were already deeply involved in the study of Shakespeare. Such schools, represented most notably by feminism and new historicism/ cultural materialism, have adopted the critical license afforded by deconstruction without necessarily accepting the extremity of its assault on meaning or its ideological barrenness. The critics allied with these schools have been referred to by Felperin as "contextual" deconstructionists, meaning that their interpretations, no matter how radically liberated from the constraints of inherited meaning, are not left floating in a moral void but are placed within the context of a particular ideology.

Still, while contextual poststructuralists have had a profound effect on the state of Shakespeare studies, even they have yet to contribute much to the interpretation of Pericles. In fact, Steven Mullaney's cultural materialist reading—in The Place of the Stage (1988)6—constitutes one of the few significant poststructuralist considerations of the play. Cultural materialism and new historicism are highly contextual—both of them being based to one degree or another in Marxist analysis of the mechanics of cultural dominance and subjugation—and their relationship to deconstruction is somewhat complex. If most poststructuralist literary criticism can be said to have sprung in part from the writings of Derrida, historically inflected poststructuralism owes more of a debt to Michel Foucault. Where Derrida had held up the literary text as the site of discontinuity and disjuncture, Foucault, in such works as Discipline and Punish (1975) and The History of Sexuality (1978),7 did the same for the great "text" of history. Foucault thoroughly attacked the notion that the denizens of a historical period can be characterized by some unified worldview or central cultural attitude—a notion championed by such "old" historicists as E. M. W. Tillyard in his The Elizabethan World Picture. Foucault looked for the contradictions, the cracks in the world picture, the margins surrounding the center, and rather than seeing a single dominant outlook shaping a given culture, he found a multiplicity of voices, a babble of discourses fighting for political and cultural dominance.

New historicist and cultural materialist critics of Shakespeare examine Elizabethan England through the same fractured lens, and in doing so, they do not so much shatter textual unity as render the whole question quite irrelevant. For these critics, the Shakespeare text is not a self-contained structure; it is not an isolated body that can be "privileged" over other written material of the period. Rather, it is simply one text among many historical "texts" competing for pride of place with diaries, theological tracts, royal proclamations, and writs of deed. In other words, a play like Pericles should not be analyzed as a self-contained soliloquy but as part of a dialogue: a text in conversation with other texts. As Mullaney writes:

I have sought .. . to view the popular stage not only or primarily as a literary phenomenon, but as one of a diverse body of cultural practices. .. . In The Place of the Stage, literary analysis is conceived not as an end in itself but as a vehicle, a means of gaining access to tensions and contradictions.8

The particular tensions and contradictions he identified with regard to Pericles were those endemic to an age moving rapidly into capitalism. He begins his argument by citing Frederic Jameson's theory that the genre of Shakespearean romance is a nostalgic, Utopian response to the growing power of the marketplace, as Shakespeare "opposes the phantasmagoria of imagination to the bustling commercial activity at work all around it."9 After noting one major contradiction inherent in the theory—that the play which exhibits this "phantasmagoria" is itself part of the "bustling commercial activity"—Mullaney found several scenes in which Shakespeare, nonetheless, seems in his text to demonstrate anxiety over the capitalistic implications of parts of his story. For his first example, Mullaney used one of the least remarked-upon scenès in the play: act I, scene iv, in which Pericles brings grain to relieve the starving citizenry of Tharsus. As Mullaney noted, in one of Shakespeare's prime sources, Lawrence Twine's Pattern of Painfull Adventures (1579), the hero Apollonius (Twine's version of Pericles) displays a Machiavellian side that Shakespeare takes great pains to suppress. Unloading his wheat in the Tharsian marketplace, Apollonius demands that the Tharsians pay "eight peeces of brasse for every bushel." Though he quickly decides to return the money, this only serves to redouble the populace's debt to him. As Mullaney observes, "a gift marks the beginning of a coercive system of exchange, one that comes into play . . . in cultural situations where more overt systems of obligation or domination are unavailable" (139). In significant contrast to this display of mercantile greed and cunning, the scene penned by Shakespeare (Mullaney was not concerned with questions of authorship) takes place not in a marketplace, but in a neutral area somewhere near the harbor, and his Pericles simply asks for "love" and "harbourage" in return for his gift.

Mullaney's observation that Shakespeare seems to have cleaned up the less spiritual aspects of his story is even more interesting when applied to one of the play's most notorious gaps in logic: the scene in which Pericles inexplicably decides to leave his infant daughter in the care of Cleon and Dionyza for fourteen years. This is a plot twist that has proven resistant even to most myth-criticism (which relies little on realistic logic), and though Mullaney did not attempt to fill in the gap, he did give it significance. In Twine's version, Apollonius "leaves his daughter to embark on a voyage around the Mediterranean, 'meaning . . . to exercise the trade of merchandize'" (139).

Next, Mullaney tackled the brothel scenes. After pointing out that these scenes represent the only time in the play in which Shakespeare allows the marketplace onto the stage (perhaps because of the unflattering picture of commerce that they paint), Mullaney again used discrepancies between Twine and Shakespeare to suggest the latter's anxiety over a changing cultural climate. Twine's daughter-figure, here named Tharsia, escapes degradation and ruin through a markedly different strategy than her Shakespearean counterpart: she repeatedly enthralls would-be customers so much with her tale of woe that they forget about sex and agree to pay merely for the privilege of listening. As Mullaney observed, what Tharsia does is essentially to create a theater within the brothel. Because sexual assignations were rumored to be frequent amid the anonymity of the theater-crowd and because "Shakespeare's audience was lured into the theatre at least in part by the promise of illicit liaisons," this is a combination that would have made great sense to an Elizabethan audience. However, where Tharsia's actions baldly affirm the economic interdependency of playhouse and whorehouse, Marina's proselytizing revealed Shakespeare practicing "an evasion of the economic and cultural roots of the popular stage" (145).

Clinching Mullaney's argument was the figure of Gower. By bringing the "moral Gower" onstage to narrate the play, Shakespeare is essentially championing one source over the other, using Gower's powerful authorial, authoritative presence to "obscure the discomfiting significance of Twine's Painfull Adventures." Because Gower is a distinctly medieval presence, he is able to "introduce Pericles as a tale of universal significance, ancient but unaging, forever timely and uncontaminated by historical and cultural contexts" (148). Because Mullaney regarded the use of such an onstage authorial voice to be an unprecedented theatrical innovation, Pericles achieves a new importance, representing the Elizabethan-Jacobean theater's first "radical effort to dissociate the popular stage from its cultural contexts." It was a harbinger of the tradition—eventually practiced by generations of playwrights (and, it is implicit, literary critics)—of imagining "that popular drama could be a purely aesthetic phenomenon, free from history and historical determination" (147).

Mullaney's criticism aside, it is interesting to note that the postmodern stage seems to have provided a slightly more hospitable home for the disunified Pericles than has the poststructuralist publication. Though in the modernist era, new interpretations of the play tended to appear on the page decades before they found their way to the stage, it seems clear that deconstructive, postmodern productions of Pericles have preceded poststructuralist critiques: that it is the director who has seized the initiative.

Peter Sellars has frequently been referred to as a "deconstructionist," and perhaps no director has worn the mantle so deservedly. Since his first professional productions in the early 1980s (such as Pericles in 1983), he has brought to bear an interpretive method that flies in the face of orthodox directorial objectives, such as unity of concept, clarity of plot, and historical consistency. Loosely paralleling the doctrines of Derrida and Foucault, Sellar's is a methodology that favors multiplicity over unity, the excitement of the individual moment over the cogency of the whole, the clash of competing discourses over the search for a central meaning. He has declared that "we live in a world that is about simultaneity and contradiction,"10 and the jarring juxtaposition of disparate elements is apparent in virtually every aspect of his production work.

For instance, his productions almost invariably contain a mixed bag of often contradictory historical references, as he tries to incorporate into them a "deliberate notion that time is circular, which we lost in the early nineteenth century with the invention of photography."11 Acting styles may differ radically from character to character. The production's tone may fluctuate wildly. Moments of high drama are undercut by juvenile humor, and comedy often contains deep pain. Sellars even fragments the audience's viewpoint. In an attempt to keep the audience from merely sitting and absorbing "predigested culture,"12 Sellars often intentionally fashions visual imagery that clashes with the action or environment of the play. He calls this "visual counterpoint,"13 and uses it to call the audience's attention to the, choices he is making, to encourage them "to shift focus between the simultaneous worlds of the author and the director"14 (a clear echo of the self-referentiality of deconstructive criticism—the production is not simply about the text, but about the production of the text).

In his interpretation of Shakespeare, Sellars reveals another strong affinity with deconstruction: a special fascination with the flaws in the pattern, the places where unified understanding begins to unravel. As he says:

My recipe is . . . [to] go through and find the repetitions and obscure passages .. . I also find where Shakespeare has taken a detour .. . I isolate those repetitions, the obscure passages and the detours—and I make these the base of the production, because these are the things I first resisted.15

Because Pericles is still generally held to be one of Shakespeare's main repositories of repetitions, obscure passages, and detours, it is not entirely surprising that Sellars gravitated toward it, nor even that he chose it to be the inaugural production of his reign as artistic director of Boston Shakespeare Company. Not only did Pericles seem promisingly flawed, but it epitomized Sellars's view of contemporary life as an "image glut, a series of rapid, moving images from every period of civilization."16 Noting that Pericles consists of a conglomeration of diverse influences and styles, Sellars compared the play to a wonderfully eclectic piece of architecture:

Architecture is one living link we have with a play like Pericles, which contains classical, Christian and Egyptian references. Down where I live, near Wall Street, there is a hilarious . . . building with classical, Christian and early Egyptian elements. We're surrounded by this incredible web of references that we never notice.17

In his characteristically anachronistic production of Pericles, Sellars managed to incorporate all of these references. For instance, he brought a trace of Egypt (or at least the African continent) into the production by casting black actor Ben Halley, Jr. as Pericles and having him played as a "richly-clad African."18 In the set design (a collaboration between Sellars and Michael Nishball), the play's classical references were reinforced through a series of perspective drawings from Serlio's Five Books of Architecture that were projected on the walls (a device which also served to give the already-impressive stage space a startling sense of depth). Perhaps the most important historical reference was the one he seems to downplay in his description of the building: Wall Street itself.

Sellars is not merely a "textual" deconstructionist. Like Mullaney, he is intensely interested in the workings of class and power—specifically in the parallels between the seats of economic power in the play or opera text and the "oppressive class structure that . . . is alive and well .. . in the United States of America."19 In Figaro, he made the parallel clear by placing the Count's abode in the Trump Tower, in Job he flanked God with corporate sponsors Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, and in Pericles he made use of the same kinds of analogies. The court of Tyre became a stuffy board of directors (making Pericles' lust for travel and adventure that much more understandable), Simonides was a tuxedoed clown, and the Knights at Pentapolis translated into demonic businessmen. When Pericles suffers his greatest fall from fortune, it too was communicated in present-day economic terms. Upon learning of Marina's supposed death, he signified his catatonic despair by "becom[ing] a kind of imperial wino, snoozing his misery away under a cardboard carton."20

It was not only the historical references that clashed. The acting showed similar signs of deliberate fragmentation. Terry Hands had made the observation that the minor characters are sketched in broad strokes and that "Shakespeare's method appears to avoid peripheral involvement in order to focus on Pericles himself." Sellars apparently agreed, using a distinct and separate acting style to highlight Pericles' difference from the people surrounding him. Ben Halley, Jr. was a hugely romantic, almost bombastic figure, sharply contrasting his powerfully resonant voice and razor-sharp articulation to the more prosaic comic mannerisms of most of the other characters. The resulting impression, as Elizabeth Hageman elegantly phrased it, was of Pericles as "a man of glorious rhetoric in a landscape of unreason, of triviality."21

Costuming increased the gulf between Pericles and these characters, particularly the device (drawn, perhaps, from Sellar's experience in puppetry and Asian theater) of outfitting all of the evildoers in a variety of plastic masks ranging from the comic to the frighteningly grotesque.

The journey through the "landscape of unreason" began in the court of Antioch (Sellars kept the order of scenes largely intact), and here masks and costuming combined to create an atmosphere at once sinister and sensual. Antiochus, naked except for a series of studded leather bands (and studded leather jockstrap), wore a bearded, bold-headed mask which froze his expression into a perpetual snarl. Played by Henry Woronicz, he stalked the stage aggressively, brandishing a giant sword. His daughter, though unmasked, was in a similar state of undress, wearing only a skimpy white bikini. Jack Kroll of Newsweek remarked on the eerie sexuality of the scene, as well as on its connections to contemporary pop culture: "The daughter in her skivvies is as sexy as a Hustler layout; the father looks like Conan the Barbarian. The scene is-truly erotic."22

From barbarian Antioch, Pericles traveled (equipped with a modern suitcase) to Tharsus, where Tom Foley and Sindri Anderson played a Cleon and Dionyza who were chillingly indifferent to their starving populace. Wearing cartoonish old-age masks, the royal couple "discussed the famine raging in their midst while eating small wedges of food from their forks."23

On the shores of Pentapolis, Pericles encountered clownish Fishermen. Wearing colorful ragtag outfits, funny hats, and Pinocchio noses, they ice fished into a trap in the stage and counseled Pericles in broad Gloucester accents. In the court of Simonides, however, the roles were reversed. Though Simonides wore a comic rubber nose to go with his elegant evening wear (a surreal coming-out party was the intended look),24 in this aristocratic household it was "the mean Knight" Pericles who was the clown. For this scene, costume designer Craig Sonnenberg placed Pericles in a bushy, preposterous crown of laurels and made his "rusty armor" into a torso-length fat-suit (suggesting, perhaps, that he has inherited his father's middle-aged gut?). Dressed in this manner, clutching his emblematic twig, he made a touchingly pathetic suitor, particularly in contrast to the svelte, business-suited Knights. The Knights were both comic and threatening. Wearing red hockey masks and moving in herky-jerky unison, they presented a bizarre picture of deadly corporate conformity. The tournament was staged as a dance contest, with the stiffly stylized disco movements of the Knights eventually giving way before the superior skills of Pericles, who swept Thaisa off her feet with an energetic jitterbugging number. As described by Kevin Kelly, the end of the tournament played "like a sharp satire on chivalry" as "the Knights run offstage in disgrace and are heard hotfooting it through the basement."25

The play's most disturbing scenes—as well as its funniest—were probably those set in Mytilene. Here the corporate world once again reared its ugly head, as the major set piece indicating the brothel was a large onstage television set to which its employees sat glued, its flickering light a constant reminder that white slavery was a logical extreme in a world so crassly commercial. The costumes were also disturbing. Pandar sported tennis shoes, schoolboy shorts and blazer, and a pig mask. Boult looked like a syphilitic Dickens villain, dressed in a long frock coat and a pockmarked mask that elongated his nose and twisted his mouth into an evil sneer. The Bawd's faintly ravaged plastic face (fringed by a cheap blong wig) was the most "realistic" in the play, which made it the most chilling, creating the look of a woman whose demeanor had been paralyzed by one too many bad facelifts.

Lysimachus journeyed to the brothel in a business suit, funny glasses, and a bulbous red nose. Webster A. Stone of the Harvard Crimson, who had mixed feelings about Sellars's masks, felt that in this scene they helped solve one of the trickiest moments in the play: "When Lysimachus removes his mask repenting of his past ways, the easy gimmick becomes a tour-de-force."26

Stone (along with most of the other critics) was less positive about the production in general. One of the main problem areas cited by critics was the acting. Coming into Boston Shakespeare, Sellars inherited what was essentially a semiprofessional pick-up company, with a few veteran performers sprinkled among a corps largely made up of Harvard undergraduates and recent graduates. Unable to afford very many guest actors of Halley's caliber, Sellars was guaranteed an uneven level of performance—undoubtedly the one type of fragmentation he did not intend. Sandra Shipley's "lovely"27 Thaisa emerged unscathed, and Halley was generally admired—though Stone called him "a stiff, operatic James Earl Jones" whose "manner is too rigidly classical and neither dramatic nor human." From there it generally went downhill. Sellars had the inspired notion of casting Boston street performer Brother Blue in the role of Gower, but the result was, in the words of Kevin Kelly, "a good idea gone slightly awry." "Brother Blue speaks the lines in his own disjointed manner, and with gestures of a certain arthritic grace," Kelly wrote, "unfortunately, he garbles most of his speeches." An even bigger problem, it seems, was Jeannie Affelder's Marina. Hageman attributed the production's failure (in her eyes) to Affelder's "wooden" performance, while Stone wrote that she "moves and speaks with soulless uniformity."

It was not only the acting that turned off some of the critics—a general distrust of Sellars's methods was apparent in the reviews. "Postmodern" was barely in the vocabulary of the average reviewer in 1983, and at least two critics viewed Sellars's fragmentation of the play as the result of simple lack of vision or avant-garde pretentiousness rather than as something that might possibly be a valid aesthetic in its own right. Hageman felt that "[the play's] lack of success should be attributed to Sellars's failure to pattern the moods of the play." Stone wrote that "though this production has some innovation, drama and wit, more often it is confused, contrived, disjointed and dull." Only Kroll fully appreciated Sellars's efforts, writing that "the lesser-known Shakespeare plays are a Pandora's box crammed full of surprises. Sellars dives into this box like a child discovering all sorts of treasures." Citing the great diversity of the Elizabethan audience28 (consisting at once of "'groundings' having fun" and "more 'refined' types being turned on the deepest profundities of art"), Kroll astutely ascribed the director's electicism to a desire to make the play accessible on different levels simultaneously. Kroll found this "double-dip Shakespearean power" in evidence throughout the production: the scene at Antioch "mixes melodrama and poetry in just the right fizzing proportions"; the brothel scenes "mix bawdiness and chastity in a blend of Mel Brooks vulgarity and John Keats romanticism"; "from the skid-row imagery" of Pericles' despair "Sellars moves with tremendous emotional force to the great reunion scene."

For Kroll, then, this fragmented, disunified Pericles was not ultimately incoherent. Sellars, like many critics influenced by deconstruction, does not follow a Derridean party line, eschewing the possibility of meaning altogether. Rather, he aims at a clash of multiple meanings, at what Amy S. Green calls postmodernism's "new model of coherence, a coherence based on tensions, oppositions and flux,"29 and Kroll's reaction suggests that he may have achieved it.

Of course, not everyone found coherence in this Pericles, but it is a testament to Sellars's skill in blending elements of humor into the production (and perhaps to the relative sophistication of his jokes) that there was little misreading of his efforts as mere pandering to the masses or simple parody of the play. Kevin Kelly remarked that "this just may be the funniest Pericles of all time," but he never saw fit to question Sellars's seriousness of intent.

Michael Greif, who directed Pericles at the New York Shakespeare Festival in 1991, was not quite so fortunate. Sellars may have benefitted somewhat from the respect and tolerance that a small city could be expected to bestow on a resident nascent hero of the avant-garde. The New York critics, on the other hand, showed no such reticence, having already sharpened their teeth on postmodern Shakespeare by the time of Greif's production. In 1989, the Festival had produced Cymbeline, staged by new artistic director JoAnne Akalaitis as a "Romantic fantasy set in Victorian England" and presented as a collage of discordant images and viewpoints drawn from the vivid, overheated nineteenth-century imagination. This production has become almost legendary for the loud and vicious media shouting match it incited between most of the city's newspaper reviewers, who excoriated it, and a group of scholars, who rallied to its defense in the pages οf American Theatre.30 To the critics, the show's fractured, anachronistic perspective marked it as pure cartoon parody, a director indulging in a series of what Frank Rich called "sniggling music-hall gags at the play's expense."31 Clive Barnes labeled it a "misreading so ignorant as to be effectively beneath consideration,"32 and John Simon called it "staggeringly, unremittingly, unconscionably absurd."33 In return, scholar Elinor Fuchs ridiculed the New York press at length for their own ignorance of this new aesthetic of fragmentation, one which consciously sought to give the audience "a multiple and decentered way of understanding the world and our own subjectivity . . . [and to] demand that [they] respond to many 'texts' at once."34 In the same issue, James Leverett mocked the critics for their devotion to the "shrine of unity," which he defined as "the narrow set of aesthetic criteria that ultimately serve to mask the pernicious operations of social power and privelege."35

Not quite the same firestorm was ignited by Greifs Pericles. Yet in its wildly anachronistic settings and costumes and its violent changes of mood and tone, it was a production every bit as fragmented and decentered as Akalaitis' Cymbeline. In some ways, his visual framework was even more eclectic than Akalaitis's, blending historical references drawn from a period spanning over a thousand years. Greif did, however, pattern his history slightly more formally than did Akalaitis her crazy quilt Victoriana. If there was any ruling visual concept for Greif, it was the idea of Pericles' journey as a trip through time as well as space. Beginning in a primitive Antioch (circa 200 B.C.), he moved the story through the ages in a not-quite-linear fashion until he reached a Mytilene, which closely resembled contemporary Miami Beach. Mirroring this progression even as he guided the audience through it was Gower, who began the night draped in a robelike piece of canvas and ended it looking like a "suave, sport-jacketed Harry von Zell."36

Throughout all of these radical shifts place and time, the stage space remained remarkably simple. Giving the play a seashore motif, designer John Arnone placed the action in a pit of sand backed by a series of sliding screens, which could be changed to indicate each new setting. It was, however, a distinctly artificial seashore, for like Sellars, Greif lost no opportunity to call attention to his artistic process, to expose the theatrical underpinnings. The offstage characters sat on folding chairs, clearly visible to the audience ("in hallowed avantgarde cliché fashion,"37 sneered John Simon). Stagehands moved props and scenery in clear view, even openly operating a thunder sheet and sprinkler during the storm scene.

Within this spare theatrical frame, however, the combination of Arnone's assorted properties and backdrops and the "style-jumping flair"38 of costume designer Gabriel Berry made each setting thoroughly unique. In Antioch, the characters were "swathed in Roman-era cloths and drapings,"39 as hooded corpses hung behind them and an ominous jet of flame periodically blasted out of the floor. Tharsus appeared to be a French North African protectorate, with Steve Mellor's Cleon in a fez and black actress Saundra MacLain sporting a leopard-skin leotard (a combination that simultaneously managed to suggest a contemporary American Shriner and his tacky suburban wife). Pentapolis was played in the broadest comic fashion. It featured a medieval "jousting tournament à la Monty Python,"40 hosted by a goofball Simonides in a blonde Prince Valiant wig. The six knights were represented by a cardboard cutout (with one actor sticking his head through different neckholes to play the different characters), which knocked over furniture and other actors as it was clumsily manipulated by stagehands. The brothel was people with "seedy beach rats" with Brooklyn accents and decorated with a sign announcing "We welcome only guests using condoms." Like Sellars, Greif supplied his brothel with a television, but the statement it made was somewhat less subtle, as it continually broadcast the Clarence Thomas hearings.

In general, the critical response to Greif,s postmodern treatment was harsh. Interestingly, it was not quite as caustic as the venom to which Akalaitis had been subjected. Perhaps the critics who had pilloried Cymbeline had been chastened by the unexpected counterattack in American Theatre, but more likely a "travesty" of Pericles seemed less of a call to arms (Frank Rich opened his review by saying: "People may not hold their noses at the mere mention of . . . Pericles, but at the very least they shrug their shoulders"41)Otherwise, much of the critical reaction was nearly identical: a somewhat muted version of the same antipostmodern rhetoric. The primary objects of scorn, predictably, were the production's apparent lack of coherence and its apparent lack of seriousness, two qualities that seemed to the critics to go hand in hand. As Rich wrote:

Since Pericles is a hodgepodge, there is nothing wrong in principle with Greif's own leapfrogging, or if you will, post-modern approach. But the . . . constant about-faces in tone tell the audience early on that there is no blazing passion underlying the director's conceits, no personal vision that might weave the loose threads into a magical, dreamy tapestry.

John Simon also made the facile equation that anachronism and change of tone equal parody (he called the former "the easiest theatrical jape") and complained that "you do not save a romantic yet serious play, flawed as it may be, by camping it up." Howard Kissel, whose New York Post review was entitled "More Parody Than Pericles," attacked both director and audience by declaring that Greif,s discordant style "is probably a logical choice for the T.V. generation, for whom coherence is not a priority. Accustomed to the disjointed style of sitcom, they are contented to settle for a few yocks and not worry too much about how it all fits together."42 Even some of the show's supporters proceeded on the assumption that Greif's approach was intentionally tongue in cheek. Michael Feingold, after spending several paragraphs mocking the kind of academic solemnity that could have produced the Pericles of Terry Hands, congratulated Greif for taking "this overladen tale in the playful spirit in which it was intended." David Sheward opined that "director Michael Greif has wisely decided that the only way to go with material like this is to stage it as a joke, since it is impossible to perform with a straight face."43

Greif, who felt he was taking the play very seriously, was surprised by the charges that he had directed a parody. And he was equally puzzled by the notion that he had intentionally rendered Pericles incoherent. In a recent interview, he said, "I didn't set out to create a 'postmodern' Pericles. I was simply trying to bring out what I saw in the play."44 What he saw in the play, deep down, was something vaguely approaching unity: "My approach was to take each scene at its own face value and play it for all it was worth, but at the same time the whole play represents the journey of Pericles. It is an oblique journey—it doesn't move in a straight line—but there is a mythic journey which runs through all of the scenes." Greif's invocation of the word "myth" is surprising, but his preparatory reading included large doses of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell, and several of the conclusions he reached regarding the play were not much different than those of his modernist predecessors. For instance, Greif saw woven into the play the same counterpoint of contrasting characters that Daniels had identified, and like him, he chose to accentuate this pattern with the use of thematic doubling. Greif had followed Daniels in casting the same actress (Martha Plimpton) as both Marina and the Daughter of Antiochus, but he even came up with some interesting new combinations, with Bobo Lewis playing both the Lychorida and the Bawd, and Byron Nelson doubling as Antiochus and Simonides.

This last contrast was especially important to Greif. Like a number of structuralist critics, he saw the "bad father" Antiochus and the "good father" Simonides as perfect reverse reflections of each other, polar opposite guideposts on Pericles' journey, and he tried to emphasize that both in his casting and his staging. It was perhaps the slapstick "tomfoolery"45 at Pentapolis that had been seized on most frequently by detractors, but Greif argued that the broad comedy of the scene was not intended as diversion but was in fact thematically essential. It is not uncommon to hold up Pentapolis as the counterreflection of Antioch. In this scene, both Hands and Daniels played up the sense of chivalry, honor, and human kindness that were so noticeably absent in the opening scene. But Greif went much farther. Taking the idea that the tournament the audience sees could be one that is totally colored by Pericles' imagination, Greif presented it as an idealized vision of the tournament. In other words, in order to banish the shadows of the first scene, his Pericles conjured up "an adolescent cartoon fantasy,"46 a Pentapolis which in its total buffoonery, its complete lack of seriousness, existed as the ultimate remedy for the gloom of Antioch.

In Greif's judgment, however, this concept was only partially successful. Just as many people had a hard time adjusting to the multiple viewpoints and subjectivity of Akaliatis's Victorian kaleidoscope, many of the audience and critics of Pericles were thrown by the farcical treatment of the scene. "I don't think the audience really got the connection [to the earlier scene]," admitted Greif. Part of the problem, he felt, was the fact that Antioch had not been made nearly sinister enough to justify the extremity of its antidoteits menace was no competition for the delirious comedy that followed a few scenes later. The other problem was that the scene at Pentapolis was "too funny—it kind of overwhelmed the production. The audience thought they'd caught the tone of the whole production, and they just expected to laugh after that scene." Such a reaction from the audience then made it difficult to lure them back into the scenes that he wished to treat more seriously. Rich agreed with Greif's assessment, blaming the "unmoving" reconciliation scene on "the jokey tone of the sequences preceding this reunion," which "make it impossible for the actors to raise the production's emotional temperature at that late juncture, no matter how hard they try."

Greif's use of film clips during the latter portions of the play also provoked controversy. During Marina's kidnapping, an old black-and-white movie showing pirates swarming onto a galleon was projected onto the back wall, and the dumb show in which Pericles reacts to the news of his daughter's death was treated as a silent film, with an overly made-up Campbell Scott (the actor who played Pericles) shown soundlessly wailing and tearing his hair. Greif conceded that the first clip was unnecessary and "gimmicky" but defended the dumb show as an integral part of another throughline in the production. Like Sellars, Greif endowed his production with a certain postmodern self-referentiality, asserting that "Pericles is a story that is partly about the act of storytelling, and I was interested in looking at the different ways we have of doing that." To that end, he had Don R. McManus, as Gower, explore a variety of different styles of delivery as he moved through the ages. "When we got to this particular dumbshow," said Greif, "we realized that we were at the point in history—early Hollywood—where we really had dumbshows. [The silent movie] was one of the most important ways we told stories."

Though some of Greif's throughlines remained obscure—either through audience misperception of his ideas or uncertain execution of them—for many the journey of Pericles did seem to chart a coherent course through the rapidly changing styles, settings, and periods, thanks largely to the performance of Campbell Scott. Scott (the son of George C. Scott and Colleen Dewhurst) brought a combination of gentle intelligence and boyish charm that was admired by nearly all the reviewers. For Feingold, he was the production's "constant still center of virtue and integrity." Robert Simonson wrote that "Scott's steady-as-he-goes performance provides the center that holds this capricious dramatic universe together."47 David Richards echoed these sentiments, noting that "without Mr. Scott's solid and reliable performance, the production would be doomed by its determination to go off in a dozen different directions."48

Not all of the actors fared as well with the critics, most of whom found the general performance level to be as diverse as the rest of the production. Richards declared that "in keeping with Pericles' peregrinations, the acting is all over the place," while Clive Barnes complained that the performances "veered narrowly between the painlessly mediocre and the painfully inadequate."49 The most intense criticism was saved for the Marina of Martha Plimpton. Greif consciously chose "to defy the cliché that says she is a passive, demure creature." Instead, he and Plimpton strove to find the edge to Marina, "the anger and spirit of an adolescent who has just been deprived of the closest thing to a parent she has ever known."50 The choice was a risky one, and not many critics were pleased to lose the traditional angel of innocence. Jan Stuart noted that "the bullish Plimpton tends to browbeat others into virtuosity [sic] rather than win them over to it," though she did, he added, "save the character from blandness."51 Richards called her "a frightful scold, for a creature whose purity is supposed to speak for itself," while Feingold was harsher still: "Martha Plimpton's Marina is nothing but a shrill, streetwise tramp—unfortunate, since the script spends so much time praising her demure behavior and silver-voiced musicality." Plimpton did have at least two defenders in John Michael Koroly, who felt that her "gutsy, fiercely confident interpretation of her character saves it from becoming just another virtuous maiden,"52 and Mimi Kramer, who welcomed the idea of "a beautifully pissed-off Marina."53

Kramer was one the production's few wholehearted advocates, one of the few who fully approved of both the play and Greif,s treatment of it. Fascinatingly, she identified this Pericles as a rare example of unobtrusive directorial handling. In Kramer's view, it was the director of unified Shakespeare who was guilty of the "sledgehammer" approach, as he tried to straitjacket all the parts of a play into a "self-serving conceit." Contrastingly, Greif's "idea seems to have been to direct each scene in whatever style or with whatever conceit would serve it best." For Kramer, Greif had managed to create a Pericles that was anachronistic yet serious, fragmented yet ultimately coherent:

The current production swings between broad comedy and wild histrionics without ever descending into . . . camp . . . Mr. Greif, who clearly knows what's poignant, what's witty, what's melodramatic, keeps us entertained while never letting us forget the darker strands of the play's fabric.

Gerald Weales of Commonweal was equally enthusiastic. Having attended the play with Theatre Week critic Elizabeth Osborn, Weales wrote that "the production confirmed both Osborn's faith in the play's essential coherence and my sense of its grand incoherence, and at the same time delighted both of us . . . with no mandatory tone to violate, it vacillates between excessive broadness and touching lyricism."54 After making note of the thread provided by the play's father/daughter theme (a theme pointed up for Weales by Greif's casting), he closed his review by saying, "Thematic coherence, after all, but that seems of much less importance than the theatrical vigor that Shakespeare and Greif gave to scene after scene."

In the eyes of a few commentators, at least, Greif's postmodern Pericles, like that of Sellars, achieved a "coherence of tensions, oppositions and flux."55 Though the success attained by both directors was mixed, their productions heralded the arrival of a new kind of Pericles: one that values the fragmentation of the text, not just as a problem to be "fixed" but as something that is interesting and exciting in itself.

It is, of course, difficult to predict the future of the postmodern Pericles, or the poststructural one. It seems fairly safe to say, however, that we have not seen the last of this kind of approach to the play, both on the page and on the stage. The various methodologies that comprise poststructuralism continue to thrive in the academy, and it is almost inevitable that more of its critics will eventually turn their attention to Pericles—perhaps when there are no more dominant traditions left to subvert or central plays left to decenter. The road is somewhat harder for postmodern Shakespeare performance. In the theater—particularly the classical theater—the grip of tradition tends to unclench more slowly. However, as the information age continues to exacerbate our sense of a fragmented world and as talented young postmodern directors continue to unveil their unique visions of that world, it is not hard to imagine that fractured, fragmented Shakespeare productions will proliferate, and even that fractured, fragmented Pericles will continue to assume a more prominent place among them.

Even though it is unclear what lies immediately over the horizon for Pericles, the distance it has traveled since the nineteenth century and the perils it has navigated along the way provide an intriguing narrative. It is a voyage filled with fierce battles, with wildly fluctuating fortunes, and at the beginning, even a bit of suspense. The late eighteenth century, where it reemerged into the public consciousness after over a hundred years of neglect, proved an unfortunate launching point, running the play immediately afoul of the influential George Steevens. During its tumultuous passage through the nineteenth century, where it was generally blasted for its refusal to conform to either Victorian morality or the realist aesthetic, it looked as though it might founder and sink before its journey had truly begun. Fortunately, in the closing years of the century, a hasty inclusion among Shakespeare's "Romances" provided Pericles with the hint of a reprieve, as did the miraculously successful stage production of Samuel Phelps.

In the twentieth century, however, the sailing has been considerably smoother, as Pericles has seen a remarkable reversal of earlier judgments. In the modern age, with the rise of a new breed of professional, "problem-solving" Shakespeareans capable of unifying absolutely anything (and resultingly, a new critical paradigm which stressed unity at all costs), the most challenging of Shakespeare's "problems" began to take on a new value. Eventually, the stage director (who has always been a problem-solving critic), inspired in part by critical reappraisals, began to fashion powerful and innovative productions that heightened profoundly the esteem of the play.

In recent years, the paradigm of unity and seamless construction has weakened its hold, usurped to an extent by a new interest in fragmentation and deconstruction. Whether this trend holds great promise for Pericles is still uncertain. Critical consideration of the play has temporarily (one can only assume) slowed to a trickle, though a couple of recent productions have suggested that a deliberately fragmented approach can be a fruitful one. And alongside these "postmodern" stagings, more traditional productions continue to proliferate. During the winter of 1991-92, no less than four American regional theaters were offering nearly simultaneous productions of the play (Greifs was one), prompting Maggie Kramm of American Theatre to write an article on the phenomenon. "This convergence of Pericleses isn't really a coincidence," she ventured, "Pericles is seemingly a play whose time has come round."56 Whether this is true remains to be seen, but it is clear that the play has reached a level of importance and esteem that would have once been unthinkable. Not a bad achievement for a miserable fragment.


1 Channel surfing is one of the favorite time-wasting activities of MTV's Beavis and Butthead. Female comedians regularly lampoon the adult male's obsessive attachment to the television remote. I am unaware of any popular references to female channel surfers, although there is probably very little basis for ascribing the trait exclusively to males.

2 Channel surfing as a metaphor for and influence on postmodernism is, of course, not an entirely original concept. For instance, Raymond Williams makes a similar point in Television, Technology and Cultural Form (New York: Schocken Books, 1975), 87. Cited in Amy S. Green, The Revisionist Stage: American Directors Reinvent the Classics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 174.

3 Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology, trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976), 5. Quoted in Vincent B. Leitch, Deconstructive Criticism: An Advanced Introduction (New York: Columbia University Press, 1983), 24.

4 Howard Felperin, Beyond Deconstruction: The Uses and Abuses of Literary Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985). Cited in Grady, The Modernist Shakespeare, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991) 214.

5 As Hugh Grady writes, " . . . because Derrida has directed his primary attention to philosophical texts and issues, and because the Yale deconstructors had begun their carexers as specialists in the nineteenth century who had early been concerned with reversing New Criticism's valorization of the Renaissance over Romanticism, deconstructive close readings of Shakespeare are among the most prominent texts of neither deconstruction in general nor of contemporary Shakespeare criticism." In Grady, The Modernist Shakespeare, 214.

6 Mullaney prefers the term "cultural materialist" to "new historicist" (xi), and I am not one to question his preference. Grady, in Modernist Shakespeare; makes a reasonable distinction between the two schools, stating that new historicism, as typified by the work of Stephen Greenblatt, tends to be fairly apolitical, while cultural materialism is more Marxist inflected. Mullaney's work does seem to focus more on economic power structures than the more generic patterns of "subversion and containment" which characterize new historicism.

7 Dates given are those of English editions.

8 Steven Mullaney, The Place of the Stage (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1988), x.

9 Frederic Jameson, The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1981),148. Cited in Mullaney, The Place of the Stage, 140.

10 In Richard Trousdell, "Peter Sellars Rehearses Figaro," The Drama Review 35, no. 1 (Spring 1991): 83.

11 In Arthur Bartow, The Director's Voice (New York: TCG, 1988), 279.

12 Bartow, Director's Voice, 284.

13 Peter Seilars, quoted in Don Shewey, "I Hate Decoration Onstage': Peter Sellars Talks About Design," Theatre Crafts (January 1984): 24.

14 Amy S. Green, The Revisionist Stage: American Directors Reinvent the Classics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 149.

15 Bartow, Director's Voice, 277.

16 Shewey, "I Hate Decoration," 27.

17 Shewey, "I Hate Decoration," 27.

18 Elizabeth Hageman, "Shakespeare in Massachusetts, 1983," Shakespeare Quarterly 35 (1984): 224.

19 Quoted in Green, Revisionist Stage, 154.

20 Jack Kroll, "Daring to be Different," Newsweek, 14 November 1983, 83.

21 Hageman, "Shakespeare in Massachusetts, 1983," 224.

22 Kroll, "Daring to be Different," 83.

23 Kevin Kelly, "Pericles with Great Feeling," Boston Globe, 13 October 1983.

24 According to Sandra Shipley, the actress who played Thaisa, in telephone interview, 22 June 1995.

25 Kelly, "Great Feeling."

26 Webster A. Stone, "Beyond Interpretation," Harvard Crimson, 21 October 1983.

27 Kelly, "Pericles with Great Feeling."

28Pericles is, of course, Jacobean, if the most commonly held date of composition (1608) is correct, but it was performed in an "Elizabethan" manner: publicly, at the Globe.

29 Amy S. Green, The Revisionist Stage: American Directors Reinvent the Classics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 177.

30 December 1989. The response came in the form of two full-length articles—Elinor Fuchs's "Misunderstanding Postmodernism" (pp. 24-31) and James Leverett's, "Why the Critics Turned Savage" (pp. 25, 63-65)—and two shorter commentaries—David Norbrook's "The Cold War Revisited" (27) and Nancy Graves's "Did Frank Rich Really Look?" (29).

31New York Times, cited in Fuchs, "Misunderstanding Postmodernism," 28.

32 Clive Barnes, New York Post, cited in Fuchs, "Misunderstanding Postmodernism," 28.

33 John Simon, New York, cited in Fuchs, "Misunderstanding Postmodernism," 28.

34 Fuchs, "Misunderstanding Postmodernism," 25.

35 Leverett, "Why the Critics Turned Savage," 63.

36 Michael Feingold, "By Fire and Water," Village Voice, 3 December 1991.

37 John Simon, "Prince of Tiresome," New York, 9 December 1991.

38 Feingold, "Fire and Water."

39 Ibid.

40 L. C. Cole, "The Prince and the Snooper," New York Native, 16 December 1991.

41 Frank Rich, "Pericles Hints at Shakespearean Things to Come," New York Times, 25 November 1991.

42 Howard Kissel, "More Parody Than Pericles," New York Post, 25 November 1991.

43 David Sheward, "Pericles, " Back Stage, 29 November 1991.

44 Telephone interview, 19 June 1995.

45 Simon, "Prince of Tiresome."

46 Telephone interview, 19 June 1995.

47 Robert Simonson, "Pericles, Prince of Tyre," Theatre Week, 30 December 1991.

48 David Richards, "The Perils of Pericles, a Serial Adventure," New York Times, 1 December 1991.

49 Clive Barnes, "The Perils of the Public's Pericles," New York Post, 25 November 1991.

50 Telephone interview, 19 June 1995.

51 Jan Stuart, "Pericles with Postmodern Spice," New York Newsday, 25 November 1991.

52 John Michael Koroly, "Pericles, Prince of Tyre," radio review for WRSU-FM, New Brunswick, New Jersey, aired 15-21 December 19.91. Transcripts in the archives of the Public Theater.

53 Mimi Kramer, "Mirabile Dictu," New Yorker, 9 December 1991.

54 Gerald Weales, "The Bard Lives: Pericles & Night's Dream," Commonweal, 14 February 1992.

55 Green, The Revisionist Stage, 177.

56 Maggie Kramm, "The Hero Nobody Knows: Five Actors Playing Pericles," American Theatre, (June 1992): 10-17.

Works Cited

Feingold, Michael. "By Fire and Water." Village Voice, 3 December 1991.

Fuchs, Elinor. "Misunderstanding Postmodernism." American Theatre (December 1989): 24-31.

Green, Amy S. The Revisionist Stage: American Directors Reinvent the Classics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Hageman, Elizabeth H. "Shakespeare in Massachusetts, 1983." Shakespeare Quarterly 35 (1984): 224-25.

Kelly, Kevin. "Pericles With Great Feeling." Boston Globe, 13 October 1983.

Leverett, James. "Why the Critics Turned Savage." American Theatre (December 1989): 25, 63-65.

Shewey, Don. "'I Hate Decoration Onstage': Peter Sellars Talks About Design." Theatre Crafts (January 1984): 24-27.

Simon, John. "Prince of Tiresome." New York, 9 December 1991, pp. 97-98.

Source: "Pericles Deconstructed," in Thwarting the Wayward Seas: A Critical and Theatrical History of Shakespeare's Pericles in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, University of Delaware Press, 1998, pp. 126-45.