Community-Making in Early Stuart Theatres: Stage and audience

1st Edition

Anthony W. Johnson, Roger D. Sell, Helen Wilcox

Published January 17, 2019
Reference - 432 Pages
ISBN 9780367140502 - CAT# K410237

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Twenty-two leading experts on early modern drama collaborate in this volume

to explore three closely interconnected research questions. To what extent did

playwrights represent dramatis personae in their entertainments as forming, or

failing to form, communal groupings? How far were theatrical productions likely

to weld, or separate, different communal groupings within their target audiences?

And how might such bondings or oppositions among spectators have tallied with

the community-making or -breaking on stage? Chapters in Part One respond to

one or more of these questions by reassessing general period trends in censorship,

theatre attendance, forms of patronage, playwrights’ professional and linguistic

networks, their use of music, and their handling of ethical controversies.

In Part Two, responses arise from detailed re-examinations of particular plays

by Shakespeare, Chapman, Jonson, Beaumont and Fletcher, Cary, Webster, Middleton,

Massinger, Ford, and Shirley. Both Parts cover a full range of early-Stuart

theatre settings, from the public and popular to the more private circumstances

of hall playhouses, court masques, women’s drama, country-house theatricals,

and school plays. And one overall finding is that, although playwrights frequently

staged or alluded to communal conflict, they seldom exacerbated such divisiveness

within their audience. Rather, they tended toward more tactful modes of

address (sometimes even acknowledging their own ideological uncertainties) so

that, at least for the duration of a play, their audiences could be a community

within which internal rifts were openly brought into dialogue.


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