1st Edition

Playgrounds Urban Theatrical Culture in Shakespeare’s England and Golden Age Spain

By David J. Amelang Copyright 2023
    217 Pages 19 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    217 Pages 19 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book compares the theatrical cultures of early modern England and Spain and explores the causes and consequences not just of the remarkable similarities but also of the visible differences between them.

    An exercise in multi-focal theatre history research, it deploys a wide range of perspectives and evidence with which to recreate the theatrical landscapes of these two countries and thus better understand how the specific conditions of performance actively contributed to the development of each country’s dramatic literature. This monograph develops an innovative comparative framework within which to explore the numerous similarities, as well as the notable differences, between early modern Europe’s two most prominent commercial theatre cultures. By highlighting the nuances and intricacies that make each theatrical culture unique while never losing sight of the fact that the two belong to the same broader cultural ecosystem, its dual focus should appeal to scholars and students of English and Spanish literature alike, as well as those interested in the broader history of European theatre. Learning from what one ‘playground’ – that is, the environment and circumstances out of which a dramatic tradition originates – reveals about the other will help solve not only the questions posed above but also others that still await examination.

    This investigation will be of great interest to students and scholars in theatre history, comparative drama, early modern drama, and performance culture.

    List of Illustrations



    Chapter One: Cities

    • England and Spain’s Theatrical Capitals
    • Early Urban Theatre Districts
    • The Place of Theatres in English and Spanish Society
    • Playhouse Locations after Consolidation

    Chapter Two: Playhouses

    • Why did English and Spanish Theatres Look so much Alike? A Few Genealogical Conjectures
    • The Organic Corral vs the Immutable Theatre
    • Seeing and Hearing (and Being Seen) in England and Spain’s Playhouses
    • Beyond the Bare Stage: Machines, Candles, Multi-Platforms

    Interlude 1: Why did Madrid Not Have a Blackfriars?

    Chapter Three: Players

    • Professional Playmakers in Early Modern Society
    • Company Models, Structure and Organisation
    • Touring Practices
    • Who Played the Female Roles? Women and Children on the Commercial Stage

    Chapter Four: Dramatists

    • The Making of a Professional Playwright
    • Verse, Prose and Polymetry
    • Dramatic Genre(s)
    • Quantities of Writing and Notions of Artistry

    Interlude 2: Professional Actresses: To Have and Have Not (and How it Made a Difference)

    Chapter Five: Playbooks

    • Playbook vs Play: Printing Theatre in England and Spain
    • Publication Strategies, Licensing and Censorship
    • The Playbook in the Literacy Marketplace
    • Other Documents of Performance


    Works Cited



    David J. Amelang is an assistant professor in English Literature at the Department of English Studies of the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. He currently serves on the board of directors of the Madrid Institute for Advanced Study (MIAS) and of the Spanish and Portuguese Society for English Renaissance Studies (SEDERI).