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HUMANITIES 197 of inquiry, whether in itself or as a supplement to endeavours with a different primary focus. We can only wish that the continental series of the Index could be extended beyond Alciato to include some of the other especially influential or interesting European emblematists_ (KENNETH BORRIS) Scott McMillin and Sally-Beth Maclean. The Queen's Men and Their Plays Cambridge University Press. xviii, 254-$59.95 This book accomplishes a number of important goals, and does so brilliantly . It demonstrates beyond doubt how the Records of Early English Drama (REED), published in recent years with such intensive effort, are revolutionizing our understanding of that drama. It does so by making the case that provincial touring records of acting companies in the latter part of the sixteenth century in England are critical to our understanding of the development of Elizabethan drama. Case in point: the Queen's Men, here the subject ofa superb full-length study ofan Elizabethan acting company's personnel, repertory, dramaturgical style, political agenda, and place in history. The study is a model for others that should follow. The Queen's Men, the authors argue, were formed in 1583 for a number of reasons, mainly political. Queen Elizabeth's government was eager to restrict the number 6f plays in the interests of public order; at the same time, the regime wished to assure the success of the Protestant Reformation and burnish the image of England's virgin queen. To accomplish these goals, Elizabeth's secretary of state, Sir Francis Walsingham, plucked from the ranks of the existing companies (especially Leicester's and Sussex's Men) the verybest talent available, including Richard Tarlton, John Bentley, John Singer, Robert Wilson,John Adams, and John Lanham. Not all of these names are familiar today, but they were recalled with great fondness by English audiences in succeeding decades. Part of what is new in this book is the authors' explanation of why the Queen's Men, having been given such an enviable advantage in 1583 and having triumphed as the leading company of the decade, declined so rapidly in the 15905. The authors' answer is of a piece with their commitment to REED and all its good works: the Queen's Men were essentially a touring company. They enjoyed playing in London and at court, of course, but their charter was to address a nation, and they organized themselves as travelling players. In the provinces they could perform, again and again, a limited repertory before a succession ofnew audiences. Only in the 1590S did other companies learn how to play to London audiences with fullest advantage by locating themselves for the most part in a single playhouse where they could present a large number of new plays in rotating repertory. At the same time, the new companies and their playwrights - notably Marlowe and Shakespeare writing for the Admiral's and Chamberlain's 198 LETTERS IN CANADA 1998 Men -learned to produce plays of high literary quality well suited to the demands of an expanding print culture. Here the Queen's Men were at a marked disadvantage. Their plays were improvisational,with lots ofhorseplay ofthe sort that Tarlton did so well. Their plays were medleys, visually oriented, full of pantomime and processions. They did much to put the English history play on the boards, hut it remained for Marlowe and Shakespeare to discover the true genius of the genre. Shakespeare in particular rifled the warehouse of the Queen's Men's repertory for his own history plays to such an extent that we are obliged to wonder if he had been a Queen's man himself. The authors of this study explore that possibility with the judiciousness and insight that they bring to every issue they study. No quick sketch can begin to do justice to the riches of this fascinating book. It contains full analyses of playing spaces - some of them still extant - where the Queen's Men acted on tour. Itprovides maps of their peregrinations . It analyses the dramaturgy of their repertory, and argues the textual integrity of the versions too often dismissed as 'bad' quartos) that have come down to us. The argument is at times repetitious, especially...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 197-198
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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