From page to performance
essays in early English drama
Publication Year: 1995
Published by: Michigan State University Press
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The point hardly needs stating in the case of modern drama. The Importance of Being Ernest or A Streetcar Named Desire are stock repertory because of their proven appeal as theater, and more people are likely to have seen these plays than to have read them. The reverse is true of our knowledge of earlier drama. Generally...
1. The Mass as Performance Text
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Some ministers of religion who have seized on the dramatic possibilities of conducting services in order to win over the hearts and minds of their parishioners have attracted criticism. For instance, in a poem entitled "In Church" Thomas Hardy writes about a preacher who is seen by one of his...
2. From Mappa Mundi to Theatrum Mundi: The World as Stage in Early English Drama
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The continuity of the native dramatic tradition from its popular roots to the drama of Shakespeare has been given less theoretical attention over the years than the subject commands. In part, I believe, the problem has resulted from the narrow periodization and specialization that has drawn hard and...
3. Asleep Onstage
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Characters asleep onstage are not especially common in ancient and modern drama. The few examples one can find do not suggest a thematic or dramaturgic pattern. Strepsiades, in Aristophanes' The Clouds, finds his horse-loving son Pheidippides asleep one morning, farting happily under...
4. Acting Mary: The Emotional Realism of the Mature Virgin in the N-Town Plays
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The founding almost thirty years ago of the Poculi Ludique Societas, the medieval and Renaissance play group of the University of Toronto, can be attributed directly to the enthusiasm of Arnold Williams for the production of early drama. At a meeting of the seminar which he founded in...
5. The Performance of Some Wakefield Master Plays on the University of Illinois Campus
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As a student thirty years ago in Arnold Williams's graduate course in Middle English literature, I heard him discuss the performance aspects of cycle drama and moralities in a way that was quite unfamiliar to me and, I suspect, to the other members of the class. Although this class was...
6. The Problem with Mrs. Noah: The Search for Performance Credibility in the Chester Noah’s Flood Play
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Directors who approach the Chester Noah's Flood play may find themselves intimidated by the character of Mrs. Noah.� She sits at the very center of the play, apparently an implacable, sharp-tongued shrew. She disputes the judgment of her husband and abandons the family's boat-building labors...
7. The Theaters of Everyman
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Everyman occupies a special place in the revival of medieval drama in England in the twentieth century. The success it has enjoyed since the time of Edward Poel's revival of the play at London's Charterhouse in 1901 has not only made it, in the words of Arnold Williams, "the morality play best known...
8. “My Name is Worship”: Masquerading Vice in Medwall’s Nature
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Pride's assumption of the name Worship is only the first in a series of virtuous pseudonyms taken by the vice figures in this play in order to deceive Man or, as one of them says, "to blear his eye" (81). Pride's retinue, the rest of the seven deadly sins, all follow his lead. Covetousness misrepresents himself...
9. Plays, Players, and Playwrights in Renaissance Oxford
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The recent publication of the records of dramatic activity at Cambridge University by Alan H. Nelson has made available a large amount of evidence, much of it appearing in print for the first time, about the extensive part that drama played in the education of Cambridge students, particularly...
10. English Chronicle Contexts for Shakespeare’s Death of Richard II
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The murder of the king, weapon in hand, struck down (probably with a poleaxe) by Sir Pierce of Exton, in Shakespeare's Richard II (1595) is remarkable for several reasons. It shows a decisive aspect of Richard's character that is free of any sense of resignation or passive fatalism-in his...
11. Family by Death: Stage Images in Titus Andronicus and The Winter’s Tale
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Trained by productions and informed by dreams, we can find, in the images of Shakespeare's stage, emphases, patterns, and connections that reside deeper than words. Reading the stage images of Titus Andronicus and The Winter's Tale, for example, we realize that these plays are strange but not...
12. Bearing “A Wary Eye”: Ludic Vengeance and Doubtful Suicide in Hamlet
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Immediately before the start of fencing competition during which Hamlet will receive the wound that kills him, Claudius commands, "And you, the judges, bear a wary eye" (5.2.277).� 'The judges" to whom he speaks are onstage, but the call to "bear a wary eye" applies also, in ways I intend to explore in this...
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Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 1995