English Drama before Shakespeare surveys the range of dramatic activity in English up to 1590. The book challenges the traditional divisions between Medieval and Renaissance literature by showing that there was much continuity throughout this period, in spite of many innovations. The range of dramatic activity includes well-known features such as mystery cycles and the interludes, as well as comedy and tragedy. Para-dramatic activity such as the liturgical drama, royal entries and localised or parish drama is also covered. Many of the plays considered are anonymous, but a coherent, biographical view can be taken of the work of known dramatists such as John Heywood, John Bale, and Christopher Marlowe.
Peter Happé's study is based upon close reading of selected plays, especially from the mystery cycles and such Elizabethan works as Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy. It takes account of contemporary research into dramatic form, performance (including some important recent revivals), dramatic sites and early theatre buildings, and the nature of early dramatic texts. Recent changes in outlook generated by the publication of the written records of early drama form part of the book's focus. There is an extensive bibliography covering social and political background, the lives and works of individual authors, and the development of theatrical ideas through the period. The book is aimed at undergraduates, as well as offering an overview for more advanced students and researchers in drama and in related fields of literature and cultural studies.
Series List Editors' Preface Abbreviations Introduction 1. Historical Continuity and Development: The Scope of Drama, 1350-1590 2. Dramatic Practice, 1350-1590 Part One: The Medieval Drama: 3. Worship, Instruction and Entertainment Liturgical Drama 4. Texts and Mystery Plays and Moralities 5. Staging 6. Dramatic Values
Part Two: Humanism, Renaissance and Reformation 7. Education and Polemic Classical Comedy and Tragedy 8. Individual Dramatists up to 1555 9. Interludes 10. Other Dramatic Forms Part Three: Professional Theatre
11. Theatre and Companies The Context of the Professional Stage: James Burbage and John Lyly 12. Kyd and Marlowe 13. Greene, Peele and Other Popular Plays, 1580-95 14 Epilogue