Analyzing Elizabethan and Jacobean playtexts for their spatial implications, this innovative study discloses the extent to which the resources and constraints of public playhouse buildings affected the construction of the fictional worlds of early modern plays. The study argues that playwrights were writing with foresight, inscribing the constraints and resources of the stages into their texts. It goes further, to posit that Shakespeare and his playwright-contemporaries adhered to a set of generic conventions, rather than specific local company practices, about how space and place were to be related in performance: the playwrights constituted thus an overarching virtual 'company' producing playtexts that shared features across the acting companies and playhouses. By clarifying a sixteenth- to seventeenth-century conception of theatrical place, Tim Fitzpatrick adds a new layer of meaning to our understanding of the plays. His approach adds a new dimension to these particular documents which-though many of them are considered of great literary worth-were not originally generated for any other reason than to be performed within a specific performance context. The fact that the playwrights were aware of the features of this performance tradition makes their texts a potential mine of performance information, and casts light back on the texts themselves: if some of their meanings are 'spatial', these will have been missed by purely literary tools of analysis.
Tim Fitzpatrick co-founded the Department of Performance Studies at the University of Sydney. His research concerns the interplay between oral and textual elements in early modern performance: in the Commedia dell'Arte and in Elizabethan theatre.
'Playwright, Space, and Place in Early Modern Performance makes a substantial contribution to early modern theatrical history. It is carefully argued and meticulously documented. It will undoubtedly change the way that scholars and theatrical practitioners think about early modern staging and stagecraft.' Evelyn Tribble, University of Otago, author of Cognition in the Globe: Memory and Attention in Shakespeare's Theatre '... Playwright, Space and Place in Early Modern Performance is an extremely useful study that invites us to consider the complex and exciting ways in which the physical characteristics of stages during Shakespeare’s time both reflected and dictated the playwrights’ ability to guide their audience’s attention through a constantly shifting maze of geographical locations. Scholars, directors, actors, set designers, and others should find a great deal of helpful information in this thoroughly researched and carefully written book.' Comparative Drama '... [Fitzpatrick] conducts an original and interesting inquiry into the spatial conventions of the early modern playhouse.' Around the Globe 'Fitzpatrick assembles his copious evidence intelligently and cogently, providing tables, appendices and simple but well-devised diagrams. Though deeply interested in the physical reality of the theatre, this is not simply a book about theatre design: it is a book about how playwrights tell stories in space and time. Clear in its aims but far-reaching in its ambitions, it makes a significant contribution to the study of the early modern stage.' Theatre Research International '... presents some intriguing speculation surrounding spatial signification on the early modern stage...' Renaissance Quarterly 'Tim Fitzpatrick’s Playwright, Space and Place in Early Modern Performance: Shakespeare and Company is a remarkably thorough scholarly work and the author’s breadth of knowledge is impressive. It is based on well-established methodology, adopting which one