What's Missing in Sleep No More


  • Sophia Richardson Oberlin College
  • Lauren Shohet Villanova University


Macbeth, Performance Studies, Dialectics


This essay explores dialectics of absence and presence in Sleep No More, considering how the production plays with fullness and vacancy in its source, its audience, its theatrical space, and its program book. Inverting the tradition of masked performers by instead masking the audience, Sleep No More thematizes the obscuring and revealing inherent to performance and particularly to adaptive performances. Insofar as Macbeth itself is a play haunted by absence, Sleep No More multiplies the resonant echoes of what is not quite there in ways that illuminate larger operations of adaptation and of drama.

Author Biographies

Sophia Richardson, Oberlin College

Sophia Richardson studies comparative literature (English, French, and German) at Oberlin College and has done coursework in literature and sociolinguistics at Swarthmore College and the Albrecht-Ludwigs Universität in Freiburg, Germany. She is particularly interested in questions of gender, literature and related art forms, and literature and science. She has studied opera — including with the Washington National Opera's Young Artist summer program — and has written about Madama Butterfly and Eugene Onegin.

Lauren Shohet, Villanova University

Lauren Shohet is Luckow Family Professor of English at Villanova University (USA). The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment of the Humanities, the Shakespeare Association of America, the Folger Library, the Huntington Library, the German Academic Exchange Service, the Fulbright Foundation, and the Bogliasco Foundation, she is the author of Reading Masques: The English Masque and Public Culture in the Seventeenth Century (Oxford University Press, 2010) and numerous articles on Renaissance poetry and drama, adaptation, and genre studies. Her recent work on adaptation and/of early-modern texts include contributions to Milton and Popular Culture, edited by Knoppers and Semenza (Palgrave, 2006); "Medusa's Shield: Adaptation and the Lightness of History" (Western Humanities Review, 2011); "Teaching Paradise Lost through Adaptation," for Approaches to Teaching Paradise Lost, edited by Herman (MLA, 2012); and "Macbeth: The State of the Art," for the Continuum Renaissance Drama Macbeth, edited by Drakakis and Townshend (Arden, forthcoming 2013). She is currently editing an Othello iPad app for the Luminary Shakespeare.