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Certain less "literary" plays provide an informative picture of the place of the performer in Early Modern drama. Works like John a Kent and John a Cumber and The Blind Beggar of Alexandria were both wildly popular and dependent on the appeal of a kind of virtuoso impersonation routine, which this essay compares to John Woo's 1997 thriller Face/Off. Just as that film's stars trade off of their established characteristics, it seems likely that Edward Alleyn parodied his own roles in Tamburlaine and Doctor Faustus in the aforementioned plays. The image that emerges, of an Elizabethan theatre that exploited popular trends and actors' established reputations, is at once familiar to modern-day consumers and indicative of an area in desperate need of exploration, if we are to understand the material conditions of Early Modern performance outside of canonical texts.
Identity,Acting,Impersonation,Performance history,Anthony Munday,George Chapman,John Woo,Edward Alleyn,Parody,Star theory