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Secret Meanings In Shakespeare Applied To Stage Performance: The Practice of Esoteric Arcana exploring the Plays’ Mysteries

550 pages10 hours


“Here is a person who shares with me a love of Shakespeare’s mysterious depths of understanding. The ancient wisdom traditions underlie andsustain the incredible reflection of our souls in Shakespeare.” Sir Mark Rylance, first artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe, London (1995-2005).

Eight arcana – alchemy, Renaissance Platonism (including Divine Love), Renaissance magic, the Cabala, Celtic mysticism and Old World religion, initiation, theurgy and the Bible – are identified by the author inShakespeare’s plays as means to uncover long misunderstood mysteries and anomalies of his playwriting. Strange and unlikely events in the stage action of his plays are elucidated as metaphors of these arcana, all readily available to Shakespeare and other playwrights of his day. For example,in The Winter’s Tale Shakespeare tells of a seacoast of Bohemia on whichthe ship carrying the baby Perdita, mariners and the courtier Antigonus are wrecked in a storm, the latter being eaten by a bear. A reading of theplay as a metaphor of chemical alchemy, clearly identified by the namesof the characters and the stage action, shows how the scene is indicativeof the alchemical stage of Putrefaction taking place in a bear-shaped vessel. In As You Like It, the reported action in the Forest of Arden where Orlando rescues his brother from a lion and a snake is sourced from severaltransforming arcana leading to brotherly reconciliation.

SECRET MEANINGS IN SHAKESPEARE APPLIED TO STAGE PERFORMANCE is unique in that these meanings have been researched and developed specifically to inform stage performances by an international, professional theatre company – Theatre Set-Up ( For over thirty years the author’s esoteric interpretations have inspired and clarifiedthe company’s productions to widespread critical and audience acclaim.

About the Author
Wendy Jean Macphee (whose doctorate in arcana in Shakespeare was taken at the Shakespeare Institute of The University of Birmingham) was a teacher and lecturer in English, drama and music from 1960 to 2012and was founder, administrator, artistic director, actor and musician forTheatre Set-Up which toured Shakespeare’s plays in heritage sites in the UK and in mainland Europe from 1976 to 2011.

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