Acting like Greeks
in Thomas Heywood and the classical tradition
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When Thomas Heywood reflects on the theatre, his thoughts turn to the classical tradition, and especially to its Greek roots. In keeping with his practice of transplanting elite classical literary material into popular playhouses, he focuses his theatre history on the ephemeral realm of performance rather than the more familiar textual record. In An Apology for Actors (1612) Heywood looks to Greece for the origins of acting, which he locates especially in the charged figure of Hercules. By turning his attention to embodied performance, Heywood alters a familiar account of theatre’s Greek origins into a strange and unsettling model of imitation and its consequences.


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