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542Comparative Drama The grace and lyricism—indeed the wit and elegance—of this statement are characteristic of the writing throughout this stunning collection of essays, surely among the best assembled on Shakespeare and his epoch. Barton's breadth and depth of learning and insight are transmitted with clarity, eloquence, and sometimes painful understanding . On Shakespeare and his connection to us. there is simply no one better. GRACE TIFFANY University of New Orleans John H. Astington, ed. The Development of Shakespeare's Theater. New York: AMS Press, 1992. Pp. 208. $34.50. This collection of essays about "Shakespeare's Theater" might just as aptly be called "The English Renaissance Stage." for it covers a span of time from the establishment of the Red Lion at Mile End in 1567 to the building of the Phoenix or Cockpit in Drury Lane in 1616. These dates correspond quite closely with the lifespan of Shakespeare, but the theaters extend more widely into varying kinds of theatrical enterprise. The essays of this volume originated in a meeting of the Shakespeare Association of America in Montreal in 1986. They reflect the tenor of the scholarship that continues to be upheld by the theater historians who meet at the SAA: archival, positivist in a search for verifiable and detailed historical knowledge about Elizabethan theaters and acting companies, intentionally oblivious to what many of these scholars regard as the siren call of postmodernism . Some in this group are Canadian or are associated with the Records of Early English Drama (REED), the project that is systematically locating and transcribing, county by county, every archival record of dramatic activity of the medieval and Renaissance periods that it can find. At the same time, this distinguished group of researchers is not supinely following the lead of E. K. Chambers and G. E. Bentley; well aware of the hazards of too complacent a view of evolutionary growth, these scholars are discovering and reexamining evidence with an investigative scrutiny that is at once empirical and skeptical. John Astington, at Toronto, has edited these essays in a way that emphasizes the complex historical development of acting companies and theatrical buildings, especially the Globe and its predecessors. We begin in mid sixteenth century with an essay distilled by William Ingram from work he has more fully published in The Business of Plaxing: The Beginnings of the Adult Professional Theater in Elizabethan London (Cornell University Press, 1992). Ingram's contention is that the Red Lion was a more or less inevitable phenomenon when the Reviews543 governmental authorities, concerned about the power of dramatic representation in the polemical disputes of the Reformation, moved decisively toward licensing. Once this had begun to happen, players who did not belong to companies under influential patronage, and who lacked a permanent acting location, were at a severe disadvantage . The Red Lion, then, takes on a significance heretofore unknown in historical accounts of the drama: some nine years before the building of The Theater in Shoreditch in 1576 (the date we all tend to remember), we appear to have a fixed stage designed perhaps for special days rather than year round. Richard Hosley has been urging 1567 rather than 1576 as a symbolic starting date for Elizabethan theater history; Ingram takes us back further still, to some time around 1550. From that vantage we learn that dramatic activity in midcentury London was widespread and increasingly subject to disapproving civic scrutiny. Patronage was the key, entrepreneurship was the means, and the Red Lion turned out to be the place, as acting companies learned to cope with governmental restrictions. The boys' companies faced similar attempts at suppression, though, in the case of Paul's, the discouragement may have come from the governors of the grammar school. Anne Lancashire presents a number of documents suggesting that the lively dramatic activity we find in early and mid century gave way to difficulties shortly before 1580. Alan Nelson tackles a cherished commonplace about the staging of plays in great halls at the lower end against the hall screen by presenting documentary evidence showing that "at Cambridge, college plays were always played at the upper end of the hall, never against the screens" (p. 59). His dates are...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 542-545
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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