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.
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
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.
"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