‘Why, sir, are there other heauens in other countries?’
The English Comedy as a transnational style
in Transnational connections in early modern theatre
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This chapter analyses the specifics of the English Comedy (Englische Comedie) as a genre practised by the popular travelling English troupes and their inheritors, during the century between the 1580s and 1680s. Most scholarship has assumed that English travelling actors exported English plays, and performed them on the Continent with necessary adjustments. This chapter elaborates a different perspective: the methodological discussion of historical theatre aesthetics presented here analyses the English Comedy in its specificity, born on the Continent from predominantly indigenous material (stories, motifs, symbols), and presented in the innovative theatrical style imported from England. As such, it existed in-between – as a paradoxically local, idiosyncratic amalgam of numerous cultural identities. More specifically, I trace the characteristics of what was known throughout the seventeenth century as the English Comedy, and argue a unique, recognizable, dramaturgical style that was in itself a nexus of transnational influences. Theoretically, the essay evidences and analyses a certain historiographic paradox: the available evidence (mostly of a textual nature) testifies to a rich circulation of material and personnel, while the resulting theatre performances adopt local tastes and, as it were, reiterate local cultural identities.

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