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The ‘jest unseen’ of love letters in Two Gentlemen of Verona and El perro del

This chapter explores the transnational use of a theatregram in an English and a Spanish play, in which a woman of higher rank instructs her ‘servant’ to write a love letter for her which she in fact intends for the writer himself, unbeknownst to him. Through this ruse, Silvia (of Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona, c. 1593) and Diana (of Lope de Vega’s El perro del hortelano, c. 1615) get around the limitations that should prevent them, as women of high rank, from courting men of lower standing. This essay looks at the way such a theatrical scenario transports within its own structure and aesthetic logic a disruption to the play’s aristocratic hierarchy, and argues that a parallel critique of social hierarchy, aristocratic distinction, and of ‘hierarchical service’ (Schalkwyk) is embedded in the theatregram. This theatrical dynamic suggests a different way in which radical political ideas may have travelled in early modern Europe through dramatic scenarios. This transnational theatre practice also challenges notions of the purity of national literary traditions, and suggests that the canons of Spanish, English or European drama in this period cannot be truly separable or national.

in Transnational connections in early modern theatre

This chapter investigates what a single, unpaired shoe uncovered by the Museum of London’s archaeological excavation of the Rose theatre might tell us about Thomas Dekker’s The Shoemaker’s Holiday, and about treading the boards of the early modern stage. Through a re-examination of stage-directions, playtexts and documents of theatre history from a variety of theoretical vantages, the chapter seeks to reanimate the shoe not as a static historical artefact paired with or fit to its proper historical context, but rather as a thing that reorients theatregoers towards their everyday contact with the world from the ground up.

in Transnational connections in early modern theatre
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An introduction to the volume, outlining the methodologies and the conceptual framing. The essay addresses issues of theatre historiography, the material evidence, the historical fact, and the theoretical and historical views of interpreting them. The introduction is divided into three sections: (1) Maps and Theories, reflecting on historiographical attempts at offering views and portrayals of early modern theatre history; (2) Contexts and Connections, itemizing the types of connections that are drawn by individual contributions, theorizing their implications for a contextual understanding; and (3) Theater Without Borders, capitalizing on the interdisciplinarity of the volume and rethinking the concepts of transnationality, early modernity, and the culturally conditioned concepts of theatre and performance.

in Transnational connections in early modern theatre
Transnational versions of cross-class desire in Cardenio and Mujeres y criados

This chapter explores connections between lost and/or rediscovered texts of Shakespeare, Cervantes and Lope de Vega. Beyond the actual similarities between the recreated Cardenio that brings together the first two authors, on the one hand, and Lope’s Mujeres y criados, on the other, I analyse the parallels and divergences in their performance, as they are mobilized to promote particular versions of Spain. A more precise understanding of these connections, I argue, allows us to consider how evolving class dynamics enable or complicate erotic rivalries in the texts.

in Transnational connections in early modern theatre
Performing quacks at court

The final tournament entry of a court festival of February 1638 at The Hague: ‘The knights of the dromedary and alchemists’, features actual farces and plays performed by a genuine troupe of street charlatans, and noblemen disguised as named healers, including two well-known quacks of the time, Mondor and Braguette. Drawing on English and Dutch images, and influences from London court masques and other European court festival, the Parisian stage, Spanish literature, and Italian commedia dell’arte, many previously disregarded in this context, this essay considers the itinerant charlatan, quack or street healer as a theme in early modern court festival, with particular reference to medical and theatrical influences on the stage names of the six courtiers of the 1638 tournament entry.

in Transnational connections in early modern theatre
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Amsterdam 1617

From a cultural, political and literary perspective, the Low Countries have a claim to be the major cultural entrepôt of early modern Europe, part and parcel of the global mercantile pre-eminence of the United Provinces. Migration from the southern Netherlands into the Dutch republic in the north, and from elsewhere in northern Europe was extremely high at this time. This essay explores the treatment of migration in one of the most famous comedies of a reformed Dutch theatre, G. A. Bredero’s Spaanse Brabander (1617), an adaptation of the Spanish prose fiction Lazarillo de Tormes (1554), showing Bredero’s theatre as an analytical microscope of migration as dominant cause of city formation. Further comparison is made with Bredero’s Terentian play Moortje (1615), in which the presence of a southern African is related to the early activity of Dutch merchants in that region, and the presence of an African community in seventeenth-century Amsterdam. Bredero’s powerful insights into the nature and consequences of migration in his world of linguistic and racial confusion, hunger, bankrupt merchants, beggar boys, prostitutes and sex offenders puts his drama in the first rank of any literary canon, national or international.

in Transnational connections in early modern theatre
Transcultural encounters in early modern Italian theatre

Drawing on comparative and imagologist methodologies, this essay assesses how Italian playwrights and actors represented Germans, Scandinavians and English people in ways that often modified and sometimes challenged ethnic stereotypes. Analysis of playscripts in relation to their specific historical contexts, such as the influence of Erasmus and of the Grand Tour, reveals the ambivalent fascination that Northern European culture held for early modern Venetians, Sienese and other Italians. Material exchanges vis-à-vis figurative representations form the core of this chapter, drawing on examples from Tasso’s Il Re Torrismondo (1587), through satirical musical comedies (Banchieri, Fasolo), the comedies of the Accademia degli Intronati of Siena, to Goldoni’s La vedova scaltra (1748). This essay argues that the notable variety of tone and purpose in theatrical figurations of the cultural other calls for a nuanced reassessment that counters the assumed xenophobia prevailing on early modern European stages.

in Transnational connections in early modern theatre
Dramatic and civil logics of the European state-form

The familiar, deforming figure of the pirate knots together four sorts of lexicons whose relation determines how the so-called Mediterranean is imagined in British early modernity. These are the lexicons of theology, the law, logic and the theatre. Tracing out the translation-system; that is, the general system of relays or mechanisms of translation, determination and overdetermination at work between these lexicons and condensed within them, is the project of this essay. It asks what it meant to be a pirate, a Mediterranean pirate, a Ragusan pirate, the eponymous Ragusan pirate – what it meant to be Ragozine in Shakespeare’s time. The methodology is historical as well as philosophical; the primary texts considered are Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure; works in the legal tradition, like Anglicus Bartholomaeus’ De proprietatibus rerum, Coke’s Institutes, Matthew Tindal’s An essay concerning the laws of nations, and Charles Molloy’s De jure maritimo et navali; works in the philosophy of logic, from Porphyry, Boethius, and Richard Patterson. The chapter is a contribution to the historiography of piracy in the early modern period, and also to the philosophy of history (inasmuch as it provides a strong rebuttal to the so-called ‘secularization thesis’).

in Transnational connections in early modern theatre
Metamorphoses of early modern comedy in eighteenth-century bourgeois theatre

This chapter analyses the poetics and aesthetics of the ‘other theatre’ (Münz) in mid-eighteenth-century Vienna, on the example of Joseph Felix von Kurz’s medley Der aufs neue begeisterte und belebte Bernardon (1754). Inspired by transnational performative traditions (commedia dell’arte, English Comedy, Haupt- und Staatsaktionen), the Bernardonians experienced a shift in meaning in the context of the emerging middle class. This paper explores the role of popular theatre in the ideological construction of bourgeois ideals of emotional distance and decorum. By pushing the limits of theatre as play to the full, and by openly displaying a playful character through acting techniques rather than trying to hide it, popular performers such as Bernardon crossed the narrow borders of bourgeois notions of identity and gender roles.

in Transnational connections in early modern theatre
Musical spectacle at the Paris court of Maria de’ Medici, the Italian Minerva of France

Starting with Giambattista Guarini and Emilio de’ Cavalieri’s theatrical dialogue Giunone e Minerva, performed in Florence in 1600 for the wedding of Maria de’ Medici and Henry IV of France, this chapter analyses the Florentine-designed iconography adopted by Maria in her patronage of French court spectacle and her development of powerful personal representations using female imagery and the Astraean cult as part of a series of transnational exchanges and appropriations between Florence and Paris. Drawing on new archival finds (previously unknown eyewitness accounts of Maria’s 1609 Ballet de la Royne), this essay publishes the discovered documents and argues that Maria was highly active as a patron of court productions while deploying a personal imagery soon after her ascent to the French monarchy (1600) and throughout her regency (1610–17). The essay explores the inclusion of the avant-garde Florentine style of solo singing imported to Paris, showing that despite French preference for ballet de cour, Maria promoted imported Italian musical fashions. Maria’s court productions combined a transnational cultural heritage, including new musical forms (accompanied monody), theatrical models (commedia dell’arte) and prestigious Italian musicians and poets.

in Transnational connections in early modern theatre