The Business of Playing: The Beginnings of the Adult Professional Theater in Elizabethan London

The Business of Playing: The Beginnings of the Adult Professional Theater in Elizabethan London

The Business of Playing: The Beginnings of the Adult Professional Theater in Elizabethan London

The Business of Playing: The Beginnings of the Adult Professional Theater in Elizabethan London

Synopsis

A Choice Outstanding Academic Book for 1994

Possessing only quasi-amateur standing in the early 1500s, London's adult professional theater troupes became the basis for an enterprise that by the end of the century was to provide livelihoods for many stage players and businessmen and their families. William Ingram here reconstructs the economic and social history of this remarkable growth through the eyes of the participants themselves--actors, managers, and entrepreneurs, including such important figures as Jerome Savage, John Brayne, Henry Laneman, and James Burbage.

Excerpt

That it would not be possible to discover a passage like the one I have just quoted [from the Crying of Lot 49] in a genuine historical work is an indication that we mostly go about our business as if the contrary of what we profess to believe were the truth; somehow, from somewhere, a privilege, an authority, descends upon our researches; and as long as we do things as they have generally been done -- as long, that is, as the institution which guarantees our studies upholds the fictions that give them value -- we shall continue to write historical narrative as if it were an altogether different matter from making fictions or, a fortiori, from telling lies.

-- Frank Kermode

It may be true, to restate an old canard about scientists, that most of the theater historians who have ever lived are now alive. in the mid-nineteenth century, theater historians were not yet a distinct species; theater history was then an avocation, not a discipline. There was no methodology to speak of, and communication occurred primarily when selected individuals assembled in small learned societies to announce their privately reached conclusions to one another. the newness and singularity of the field in that distant time did not go unremarked, even by the early practitioners themselves: J. O. Halliwell, commenting in 1853 on some of John Payne Collier's forgeries, professed not to understand what purpose they served, noting that only in very recent times had "the slightest . . .

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