Welcome to Episode #025 of That Shakespeare Life, the podcast that takes you behind the curtain and into the life of William Shakespeare.
I believe that if you want to understand Shakespeare's plays, then understanding the life of William Shakespeare, the man, is essential. This podcast is designed to help you explore early modern England as Shakespeare would have lived it by interviewing the historians, performers, authors, and experts that know him best.
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Between 1590 and 1642, there were about twenty companies of actors in London and only 4-5 of them played in London proper at one time. In addition to these companies, there were more than a hundred provincial troupes. The fact that there were many more provincial troupes than city-playing companies demonstrates that for William Shakespeare’s lifetime, it was actually the purpose built theater which was new and different, while travelling companies were the traditional way to tell stories through performance.
Here this week to help us understand a bit more about travelling theater companies is our guest, Sally-Beth Maclean.
Sally-Beth is the REED Director of Research and General Editor of the Records of Early English Drama series at the University of Toronto. Her research project specifically into Early Modern Theaters started in 2011 focusing on 8 theatres north of the Thames and is currently exploring six theatres south of the Thames, which include Shakespeare’s Globe and the Rose. You can visit this website to learn more about her projects: http://emlot.cch.kcl.ac.uk/
Sally-Beth is the REED Director of Research and General Editor of the Records of Early English Drama series at the University of Toronto. Her research project specifically into Early Modern Theaters started in 2011 focusing on 8 theaters north of the Thames and is currently exploring six theatres south of the Thames, which include Shakespeare’s Globe and the Rose. You can find links to Sally-Beth’s work in here: http://emlot.cch.kcl.ac.uk/
In this episode, I’ll be asking Sally-Beth about :
- If the traditional model was for nobles to provide entertainment with their staff, why did travelling companies begin?
- How did the variation in format change the way the plays of Shakespeare were performed?
- Did music play a role for the travelling companies as well?
- …and more!
Resources Sally-Beth Recommends:
Sally-Beth graciously included a list of resources you can use to learn more about travelling companies and Shakespeare's involvement in Leicester's Men, among other topics we talked about in today's episode. I will include those resources here. Some of these links are affiliate links. Most of the notes here are directly from Sally-Beth, a few are from me. Mine are pink 🙂 Everything here is included because the purpose of what we do here is to help you, and encourage you–nay, to invite you!–to learn something new about the bard. I hope you will seek out these resources to enhance your exploration of Shakespeare.
Dutton, Richard, ed. Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Theatre (Oxford, 2009). Includes ‘Touring’ esay by Peter Greenfield, pp 292-306
Dr. Dutton is a guest of That Shakespeare Life inside Episode 16 which you can listen to here. https://www.cassidycash.com/ep16/
Greenfield, Peter. ‘Touring Companies and their Plays before 1570,’ The Routledge Research Companion to Early Drama and Performance, ed. Pamela King (London: Routledge, 2017), pp 259-74.
Gurr, Andrew. The Shakespearian Playing Companies (Cambridge, 1996).
Manley. Lawrence and Sally-Beth MacLean. Lord Strange’s Men and Their Plays (New Haven and London, 2014).
McMillin, Scott and Sally-Beth MacLean, The Queen’s Men and Their Plays (Cambridge, 1998).
Mulryne, R. ‘Professional Theatre in the Guildhall 1568-1620,’ The Guild and Guild Buildings of Shakespeare's Stratford (Routledge, 2012).
Palmer, Barbara. ‘Early Modern Mobility: Players, Payments, and Patrons,’ SQ 56 (2005), pp 259-304.
Records of Early English Drama print series: for details see http://reed.utoronto.ca
Patrons and Performances. https://reed.library.utoronto.ca
REED Online. https://ereed.library.utoronto.ca
Blog: Before Shakespeare. The Beginnings of London Commercial Theatre, 1565-1595. https://beforeshakespeare.com
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