1st Edition

Unruly Audiences and the Theater of Control in Early Modern London

By Eric Dunnum Copyright 2020
    272 Pages
    by Routledge

    272 Pages
    by Routledge

    Unruly Audiences and the Theater of Control in Early Modern London explores the effects of audience riots on the dramaturgy of early modern playwrights, arguing that playwrights from Marlowe to Brome often used their plays to control the physical reactions of their audience.

    This study analyses how, out of anxiety that unruly audiences would destroy the nascent industry of professional drama in England, playwrights sought to limit the effect that their plays could have on the audience. They tried to construct playgoing through their drama in the hopes of creating a less-reactive, more pensive, and controlled playgoer. The result was the radical experimentation in dramaturgy that, in part, defines Renaissance drama.

    Written for scholars of Early Modern and Renaissance Drama and Theatre, Theatre History, and Early Modern and Renaissance History, this book calls for a new focus on the local economic concerns of the theatre companies as a way to understand the motivation behind the drama of early modern London.

    Introduction: The Alterity of Early Modern Audiences

    Chapter 1: Audience Response to Performance: Fear of Riots, Closures and Unruly Playgoers

    Chapter 2: Performance’s Response to Audience: The Relationship among Audience, Performance and Reality

    Chapter 3: Fictional Audience’s Responses to Fictional Performances: The Didactic Role of Metadrama

    Chapter 4: Unstable Texts, Active Readers; Stable Performances, Non-Reactive Playgoers

    Chapter 5: Anti-Mimetic Drama: Performance’s Relationship to Reality and the Playgoer’s Interpretive Agency

    Coda: Return to Malfi: The Secrecy of Performance and the Consequences of Constructing Playgoing


    Eric Dunnum is an Assistant Professor of English at Campbell University.

    'Eric Dunnum’s Unruly Audiences and the Theater of Control in Early Modern London is an interesting and informative read. [...] his dissenting voice is worth being noted, while several of his close readings contribute to present-day scholarly discussions of early modern drama in a meaningful way.'

    Natália Pikli, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungarian Journal of English and American Studies

    'learned, lucid, and original'

    Chris Fitter, Modern Philology, vol. 121(4)