Even for scholars who have devoted their careers to the early modern theatre, the name John Lowin may not instantly evoke recognition-until now, the actor's life and contribution to the theatre of the period has never been the subject of a full-length publication. In this study, Barbara Wooding provides a comprehensive overview of the life and times of Lowin, a leader of the King's Men's Company and one of the greatest actors of the seventeenth century. She examines his involvement in the Jacobean/Caroline world as performer, citizen and company manager, and contextualizes his life and career within the socio-economic and political framework of the period. Although references to him in the archives are patchy and sporadic, information about his activities within the King's Men's Company is well documented. In the course of analysing less familiar plays of the period and the characters Lowin played in them, Wooding supplements critical understanding of the scope and range of Caroline drama. Because Lowin's career burgeoned after Shakespeare's and Burbage's death, his life in Southwark and his career with the same company furnishes the opportunity for an examination of the changing status of actors, and the exercising of their skills within the drama of the later playhouse period.
'Wooding’s study of John Lowin draws critical focus away from the dramatists who used to dominate theatre history and towards the company personnel who brought to life the plays we now study: in doing so it contributes to an ongoing emphasis in scholarship on the collaborative nature of theatre. It also provides an interesting example of how the history of a company as famous and well-researched as the King’s Men can be retold from the perspective of one of its key players. Though the book provides a wealth of biographical material particular to Lowin, it also offers a new lens through which to view the development of early modern drama upon the (still relatively underexplored) Jacobean and Caroline stage.' Around the Globe '… a remarkable book that fills a gap in the history of early modern drama while contributing to the intellectual history of Jacobean and Caroline England. … Wooding's John Lowin and the English Theatre, 1603-1647 will serve and delight generations of early modern drama and intellectual historians.' Sixteenth Century Journal 'John Lowin and the English Theatre, 1603-1647 offers scholars engaging insight into the activities of the King's Men Company, close critical readings of the plays foregrounding Lowin's characters, and his contribution to performance history. … [Wooding's] enquiry into Lowin's life deserves praise …' Seventeenth-Century News 'This book proceeds at a leisurely pace but is full of interesting material. It is readable, accessible, and infused with a sense of the pleasure of theater. It will be, for some time to come, the definitive biography ofJohn Lowin.' Comparative Drama 'Barbara Wooding’s John Lowin and the English Theatre, 1607 -1647: Acting and Cultural Politics on the Jacobean and Caroline Stage fills this niche and provides a fascinating case study about how the profession developed during this period.' Renaissance Quarterly
Contents: Introduction; From Cripplegate to Bankside; Pamphlets, plays, pageant and ’prentices; ’Bare ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang’; Parish and playhouse; We now touch the height of human glorie'; ’A Protean actor varijnge everie shape with the occasion'; Theatre, citizens and court; The Soddered Citizen: an investigation; John Lowin: an actor for all seasons; Bibliography; Index.