The development of early English playhouses, 1560-1670

Harper, Lana Marie (2018) The development of early English playhouses, 1560-1670. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This thesis presents a study of playhouse spaces and the theatre industry in early modern England, and how they developed from 1560-1670. The period considered spans the English civil wars and Commonwealth to complicate the notion of a cessation of theatrical activity in 1642, and argues against the division of theatre history into distinct Renaissance and Restoration periods. The study builds on recent scholarly trends which have productively read early modern playing companies as consistent cultural entities with individual identities, by extending and applying this methodology to playhouse spaces. As such, this thesis proposes that all early modern playhouses had unique identities, and suggests that the frequent division into amphitheatre and indoor playhouses can produce an oversimplified binary with homogenising consequences. Moreover, it argues that a problematic, undertheorized hierarchy of playhouses exists; a key factor being the strength of the playhouse’s connection to Shakespeare, which has led to the prioritisation of the Globe in particular. This thesis problematises the metrics which have been used to assess the importance of playhouses; it offers alternative factors but also suggests it is more important to ascertain unique aspects of playhouse identities than to create a hierarchy between them.
Case studies of the Curtain (c.1577-c.1625), Salisbury Court (1629-1666) and Gibbons’ Tennis Court (1653-c.1669) demonstrate how distinct aspects of playhouses’ identities can be established by proposing dimensions of their unique reputations based on their known repertories. Collectively, these studies also demonstrate how playhouse space developed over time. This study concludes that each of these playhouses have been undervalued in scholarly narratives. By producing substantial accounts of these neglected spaces this thesis contributes towards a rebalancing of emphasis in early modern scholarship, and it also demonstrates that a wider reappraisal of early modern playhouse space is necessary in the future.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of English > English
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR0161 By period > PR0401 Modern > PR0421 Elizabethan era (1550-1640)
P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR0621 Drama
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 29 May 2018 10:42
Last Modified: 29 May 2018 10:42
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/76206

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