By Mark Hein
In the four centuries since Shakespeare wrote his plays, they’ve endured every imaginable kind of directorial and editorial treatment. For example, in Nahum Tate’s 1681 version of Lear, Cordelia doesn’t die but enjoys a love affair with Edgar, a happy ending grafted onto the classic tragedy. In an 1838 Antony and Cleopatra, her golden barge floated onstage bearing an orchestra, propelled by a wave machine. Also in the 19th century, a Dr. Bowdler surgically removed all the “nasty bits” from his best-selling edition of the plays. (Prudish editing is still called


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