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Documents of Performance in Early Modern England

$124.00 (C)

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  • Date Published: October 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521842372

$ 124.00 (C)

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About the Authors
  • As well as 'play-makers' and 'poets', playwrights of the early modern period were known as 'play-patchers' because their texts were made from separate documents. This book is the first to consider all the papers created by authors and theatres by the time of the opening performance, recovering types of script not previously known to have existed. With chapters on plot-scenarios, arguments, playbills, prologues and epilogues, songs, staged scrolls, backstage-plots and parts, it shows how textually distinct production was from any single unified book. And, as performance documents were easily lost, relegated or reused, the story of a play's patchy creation also becomes the story of its co-authorship, cuts, revisions and additions. Using a large body of fresh evidence, Documents of Performance in Early Modern England brings a wholly new reading to printed and manuscript playbooks of the Shakespearean period, redefining what a play, and what a playwright, actually is.

    • Presents a large quantity of fresh research revealing new documents never written about before, demanding a rethinking of performance and theatre history
    • The fullest account of documents to date, with new information about their circulation and onstage manifestation
    • Brings together the disparate fields of theatre history, manuscript studies and bibliography, showing the overlaps between them
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    • Winner of the 2010 David Bevington Award for Best New Book in Early Drama Studies

    Reviews & endorsements

    "… essential reading for theater historians, critics and editors alike."
    Ross King, The Times Literary Supplement

    "Very occasionally a book comes along which should have a significant revisionary effect across a number of academic areas of study. Documents of Performance is such a book … Tiffany Stern calls into question many of the assumptions behind current early modern scholarship on authorship attribution, editing theory and practice, paratextual materials, playhouse performance, and play interpretation … Stern's important arguments on the patchiness of plays […] all early modern theater scholars will now have to take into account."
    Anne Lancashire, Renaissance Quarterly

    "… a major contribution to our understanding of early modern theater practice … required reading."
    Alan Dessen, Shakespeare Studies

    "… a wealth of intriguing insights … teaches us more about [documents’] use and importance than we thought could be known."
    Lukas Erne, Around the Globe

    "… an important and fascinating book … challenges many misconceptions and sheds new light on the personnel and practices of early modern theaters and on the fragmentary character of the texts they required, produced, used … Documents of Performance is … constantly enlightening … lively … impressive …"
    C. E. McGee, Shakespeare Quarterly

    "… outstrips the magisterial E. K. Chambers."
    Katherine Duncan-Jones (book of the year, The Times Literary Supplement)

    "The exciting thing about Tiffany Stern’s widely acclaimed book, Documents of Performance in Early Modern England, is that it made me look again at familiar literary and theatrical material that I had long taken for granted … Stern’s reading is staggeringly wide and her book - besides being both easily readable and entertaining - is full of pertinent illustrations of her various conclusions … I was excited by all that I was learning … This is an important study, stimulating and riveting to read, exhaustively well-researched and clearly organized. I heartily recommend it."
    Mary Rosenberg, Shakespeare Newsletter

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2009
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521842372
    • length: 378 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 160 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.73kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: playwrights as play-patchers
    1. Plot-scenarios
    2. Playbills and title-pages
    3. 'Arguments' in playhouse and book
    4. Prologues, epilogues, interim entertainments
    5. Songs and masques
    6. Scrolls
    7. Backstage plots
    8 and 9. The approved 'book' and actors' parts
    Conclusion: repatching the play.

  • Author

    Tiffany Stern, University of Oxford
    Tiffany Stern is Professor of Early Modern Drama at Oxford University and the Beaverbrook and Bouverie Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at University College, Oxford. She specialises in Shakespeare, theatre history from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, book history and editing. Her previous publications include Shakespeare in Parts (co-written with Simon Palfrey, 2007, and winner of the 2009 David Bevington Award for Best New Book in Early Drama Studies), Making Shakespeare (2004) and Rehearsal from Shakespeare to Sheridan (2000).


    • Winner of the 2010 David Bevington Award for Best New Book in Early Drama Studies

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