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Home > Catalog > The Cambridge Introduction to Early English Theatre
The Cambridge Introduction to Early English Theatre


  • 23 b/w illus. 4 tables
  • Page extent: 312 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.42 kg
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 (ISBN-13: 9780521542517 | ISBN-10: 0521542510)

  • Also available in Hardback
  • Published June 2006

Manufactured on demand: supplied direct from the printer

$31.99 (P)

This introduction offers an overview of early English theatre from the earliest recorded vernacular texts in the late medieval period to the closing of the theatres in 1642. Where most existing studies focus on one side or the other of an imaginary boundary between 'medieval' and 'early modern' or 'Renaissance' drama, this book examines the theatre of nearly three centuries in a way that highlights continuities as well as divisions. The study is organised into five subject-based chapters: Place and space; Actors and audiences; Writers, controllers and critics; Genre and tradition; Instruction and spectacle. It includes full chronologies, helpful text boxes and over twenty illustrations.


1. Places of performance; 2. Actors and audiences; 3. Writers, controllers and the place of theatre; 4. Genre and tradition; 5. Instruction and spectacle; Appendix 1. Select chronology of plays and other performances; Appendix 2. Chronology of events; Appendix 3. Dimensions of playing spaces; Bibliography.


"I cannot name a better one-volume historical overview of the medieval and Renaissance st age in England than Janette Dillon's Cambridge Introduction to Early English Theatre....[the book] makes excellent background reading for undergraduate-level courses in Tudor or early Stuart Drama." - Bruce Boehrer, Studies in English Literature

"...the book offers a comprehensive history and guide to early English theater...Dillon includes helpful tables offering information on plague-related theater closings, feast days and festivals, and playing excellent resource for classroom intruction"
Susan Kendrick, Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Teaching

"At last, the book early theater historians have been waiting for: an introduction that responds to the archival and scholarly work of the last twenty years, work that has transformed our understanding of early English theater but has been frustratingly slow to make its way into introductory texts aimed at a broad readership, many of which remain riddled with misconceptions and outdated information. Now, however, we have Janette Dillon's thoroughly new overview, one that sets the record straight about the nature, scope, cultural meanings, and significance of early performances...By focusing on plays in English from their earliest instances up to the closing of the theaters in 1642, Dillon is able to stress continuities and shared trends, while still leaving room for innovations. Such a broad scope brings with it a heavy demand for expertise in four centuries' worth of theater history, but Dillon ranges with seeming effortlessness over these years...a highly readable, up-to-date, and well-organized volume. As a guide, Dillon is authoritative yet accessible, opinionated yet balanced, lively yet erudite...the book handily meets the needs of both experts and novices: the former will enjoy the cogent discussion of material they already know and are almost certain to be surprised by something they don't (as I was), while students and general readers will appreciate the clear introduction to a large and complicated subject. This book deserves a spot front and center on the shelf of every scholar of early theater, and it should be in the hands of all serious students and of the general reader as well. " -Clare Sponsler, Shakespeare Quarterly

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