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This is a thorough re-evaluation of the drama written and performed in the decade leading up to the Civil War, the most seriously neglected period of English theatre. Martin Butler overturns long-held assumptions about the nature of Caroline theatre, its playwrights, plays and audiences. The theatrical tradition that was cut short in September 1642 was neither exhausted nor in retreat. Far from being subservient to or dependent on the court, the theatres were expressing sharply critical points of view. Dr Butler makes a strong argument for the value and vitality of Caroline theatre by tracing a drama of political unorthodoxy at court, in the non-courtly indoor theatres, and especially in the open-air theatres which voiced grievances that anticipated the political radicalism of the 1640s. At the heart of the book is a complete re-evaluation of two neglected playwrights, Richard Brome and James Shirley, and a fresh examination of the late plays of Philip Massinger. As a piece of closely integrated historical and literary criticism, with implications for Renaissance drama in general, this is an important and challenging book which will be read by historians as well as scholars and students of seventeenth-century drama.
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- Date Published: April 1987
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9780521310499
- length: 356 pages
- dimensions: 203 x 127 x 20 mm
- weight: 0.39kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
List of illustrations
List of tables
Note on procedures
1. Some contentions
2. Drama and the Caroline crisis
3. Court drama: the queen's circle 1632–37
4. Lovers and tyrants: courtier plays 1637–42
5. Puritanism and theatre
6. The Caroline audience
7. City comedies: courtiers and gentlemen
8. The survival of the popular tradition
9. Concepts of the country in the drama
10. Some conclusions
Appendix I. Dramatic of semi-dramatic pamphlets 1641–42
Appendix II. Shakespeare's unprivileged playgoers 1576–1642
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