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

14 - Theatre and controversy, 1603–1642

Two kinds of theatre were in a state of abeyance during the first year of King James's reign. The first was commercial performance in London, the playhouses having been closed when Elizabeth was dying in 1603, and remaining closed on account of increased plague deaths following James's accession. The second was ceremonial theatre, in that James's coronation pageant had to be postponed until the following year. Under King Charles, it becomes more appropriate to speak of an oppositional drama, and theatre becomes an increasingly important forum for the representation of controversial issues. The position of women was an area of controversy that polarised views in very extreme ways. Public-theatre plays like The Roaring Girl, with its redefinition of the cross-dressed heroine, or The Witch of Edmonton, with its revisionist attitude towards women and 'witchcraft', are only two among many that stage debate about the place of women.
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The Cambridge History of British Theatre
  • Online ISBN: 9781139054058
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