The Children's Troupes and the Transformation of English Theater 1509-1608: Pedagogue, Playwrights, Playbooks, and Play-boys, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Children's Troupes and the Transformation of English Theater 1509-1608

Pedagogue, Playwrights, Playbooks, and Play-boys, 1st Edition

By Jeanne McCarthy


252 pages

Look Inside
Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Hardback: 9781472487797
pub: 2017-01-24
SAVE ~$31.00
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315390826
pub: 2016-11-25
from $28.98

FREE Standard Shipping!


The Children’s Troupes and the Transformation of English Theater 1509–1608 uncovers the role of the children’s companies in transforming perceptions of authorship and publishing, performance, playing spaces, patronage, actor training, and gender politics in the sixteenth century.

Jeanne McCarthy challenges entrenched narratives about popular playing in an era of revolutionary changes, revealing the importance of the children’s company tradition’s connection with many early plays, as well as to the spread of literacy, classicism, and literate ideals of drama, plot, textual fidelity, characterization, and acting in a still largely oral popular culture. By addressing developments from the hyper-literate school tradition, and integrating discussion of the children’s troupes into the critical conversation around popular playing practices, McCarthy offers a nuanced account of the play-centered, literary performance tradition that came to define professional theater in this period.

Highlighting the significant role of the children’s company tradition in sixteenth-century performance culture, this volume offers a bold new narrative of the emergence of the London theater.


"McCarthy’s study remains an important intervention in the scholarship on early modern children’s performance, offering a series of insights into sixteenth century theatrical practice, a number of new avenues for future scholarship, and an insight into the ‘rich conjunction of oral and literate modes’ on which theatre depended."

- Lucy Munro, King’s College London, Early Theatre

Table of Contents


List of Illustrations


Preface. Schooling the Drama

Chapter One. Playbooks and Playtexts: Literacy, Education, and Printed Drama

Chapter Two. Playbooks in the Henrician Era: Test Cases for a School and Chapel Auspice

Chapter Three. Playing I: Literacy and Oral Performance Practices

Chapter Four. Playing II: The Power of Performance in the School Tradition

Chapter Five. Patronage in the Tudor Era

Chapter Six. Playwrights I

Chapter Seven. Playwrights II: Literary Playwriting and Ben Jonson

Epilogue. Jacobean Reactions and Afterlife

Appendix 1: Earliest Editions of Printed Plays in English 1512-1550

Appendix 2: Earliest Printed Plays in English 1550- 1594



About the Author

Jeanne H. McCarthy is Associate Professor of English at Georgia Gwinnett College. She has published extensively on patronage, authorship, and performance in the boy company playing tradition.

About the Series

Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama

Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama
This series presents original research on theatre histories and performance histories; the time period covered is from about 1500 to the early 18th century. Studies in which women's activities are a central feature of discussion are especially of interest; this may include women as financial or technical support (patrons, musicians, dancers, seamstresses, wig-makers) or house support staff (e.g., gatherers), rather than performance per se. We also welcome critiques of early modern drama that take into account the production values of the plays and rely on period records of performance.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PERFORMING ARTS / Theater / General