Early Theatre

Articles from Vol. 15, No. 1, January

Access and Contestation: Women's Performance in Early Modern England, Italy, France, and Spain
In the professional theatre of early modern England, with rare exceptions, boys and men played women's roles. The success of this theatre industry, both in its own day and subsequently, has obscured other forms and sites of performance, enabling the...
Between Courts: Female Masquers and Anglo-Spanish Diplomacy, 1603-5
The peace signed in London and ratified in Valladolid, bringing to a conclusion twenty years of war between England and Spain, began and ended with a court masque. The negotiations were protracted. James I acceded to the throne in March 1603, but plague...
'Cattle of This Colour': Boying the Diva in as You like It
Shakespeare may have written for an all-male stage, but his plays are full of women who relish acting. 'Bring us to this sight, and you shall say/ I'll prove a busy actor in their play' (3.4.54-5), says Rosalind, as eager as Bottom or Hamlet to get...
Conniving Women and Superannuated Coquettes: Travestis and Caracteres in the Early Modern French Theatre
In his 1651 Roman comique that depicts the adventures of an itinerant theatrical troupe in the French provinces, Paul Scarron describes a conventional representation of older female characters in French comedy: 'Au temps qu'on etait reduit aux pieces...
Editorial
The editor first met Peter Parolin several years ago when he was working with Pamela Allen Brown on what became Women Players in England, 1500-1660: Beyond the All-Male Stage (2005), their wildly popular collection of essays in the Ashgate series Studies...
'If I Had Begun to Dance': Women's Performance in Kemps Nine Daies Wonder
In The Travels of the Three English Brothers (1607) by John Day, William Rowley, and George Wilkins, the famous English clown Will Kemp meets an Italian actress. Kemp finds himself in Venice preparing to collaborate with an Italian harlequin on a play...
'In the Sight of All': Queen Elizabeth and the Dance of Diplomacy
In a well-known painting from the sixteenth century, a man and woman dance the volta, one of the most popular and energetic dances of the Renaissance (fig.1). Although it is unclear whether the picture is set in France or England, or whether the dancers...
Marie De Medici's 1605 Ballet De la Reine: New Evidence and Analysis
Scholars have known very little about the three French court ballets for which Marie de Medici (1575-1642), queen consort to Henri IV of France, was both patron and highest ranking dancer. (1) This gap in knowledge is especially pronounced for her...
The Spanish Actress's Art: Improvisation, Transvestism, and Disruption in Tirso's El Vergonzoso En Palacio
In the past two decades, feminist scholarship has demonstrated the magnitude and variety of women's participation as theatrical performers in early modern Europe, particularly in England, France, and Italy. (1) Similarly, scholarship has examined how...
Women and Performance in Medieval and Early Modern Suffolk
Ongoing archival research presents contradictory glimpses of women and performance during the early modern period. While a scattering of records confirms that women who were professional entertainers performed without recorded cultural or religious...
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