Guest Post: Lawful Magic: Finding reasons for verse in theatre

Emma Lee's Blog

Because verse is so rarely used in contemporary theatre, it no longer feels – as it must have done in the seventeenth-century heyday of English verse drama – like ‘an art/Lawful as eating’. This quote from The Winter’s Tale springs to mind because, in Shakespeare’s anniversary year, I feel that today’s poets might justifiably wonder how and why the link between poetry and theatre has been so comprehensively severed. Shakespeare’s dramatic verse is highly artificial, but historically he has been greatly praised for his naturalness, especially in fitting speech into the structures of metre: what Milton referred to as his ‘easy numbers’. How could we, as poets, work towards making poetry feel equally ‘natural’ or ‘lawful’ in a modern script for theatre? And conversely, how can we channel the benefits of its unnaturalness? In this post I’m going to give some provisional responses based on my own experience, which I…

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