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The Death of the Actor reveals the tragicomic impotence of the actor confronting Shakespeare's dramatic text. Because actors are absent from the site of Shakespeare's meaning, Buzacott argues, the illusion of their centrality is sustained only by a rhetoric of heroism, violence and imperialism. This book examines those myths through which Shakespearean actors sustain their authority, and launches an all out attack on contemporary performance and theatre practice. Contemporary studies of Shakespeare in performance are influenced, the author suggests, by the current vogue for identifying actors as respectable social and political figures, rather that thieves and vagabonds. In contrast he defends the Romantic critics like Lamb and Coleridge for their presumed preference for reading Shakespeare's plays rather than seeing them performed.