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    Milling, Jane 2011. “FOR WITHOUT VANITY, I'M BETTER KNOWN”: RESTORATION ACTORS AND METATHEATRE ON THE LONDON STAGE. Theatre Survey, Vol. 52, Issue. 01, p. 59.

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  • Print publication year: 2004
  • Online publication date: March 2008

16 - Clowns, fools and knaves: stages in the evolution of acting

from PART III - JACOBEAN AND CAROLINE THEATRE
Summary
Distinct from the history of drama, the history of theatre is signposted by transcendent performers, and the first great artist of the English stage was a clown. Although the fool is culturally much older than the clown, he was a later arrival in the Elizabethan professional theatre. His contribution to seasonal celebrations, pastimes and parochial ceremonies is a central one: mock kings, boy bishops, players of May games and morris dancers need their fools. The clown of the play is a clown only insofar as he is a rustic simpleton. Elizabethan drama routinely separated its clowns and fools from its knaves, nor that Jacobean drama routinely replaced fools with knaves. There are knavish clowns and foolish knaves enough in both eras. The knave who is neither fool nor clown, and rarely 'heavy' enough to be a villain, operates in a moral and social isolation that is more Jacobean than Elizabethan.
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The Cambridge History of British Theatre
  • Online ISBN: 9781139054058
  • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521650403
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