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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: June ::
Re: Plays and Literature
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1360  Monday, 4 June 2001

From:           Steve Roth <
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 >
Date:           Monday, 4 Jun 2001 07:56:05 +0200
Subject: 12.1313 Re: Plays and Literature
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1313 Re: Plays and Literature

Steve Urkowitz <
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 > wrote:

>A society which in earlier times
>supported day-long or even three-day-long Corpus Christi plays, and had
>in what may have been a professional repertory in the fifteenth century
>_the Castle of Perseverance_ running over 3600 lines can't be said to
>have bred audiences with short attention spans.

Another example is Richardus Tertius, Legge's monumental three-night
drama played at St. John's, Cambridge in 1579 (with revivals in the
1580s). This latin blockbuster ran 10,000 lines.

It's probably worth highlighting that many/most of Shakespeare's plays
had multiple venues:

Globe/Curtain
Court
Provinces
Universities (Yes, enjoined, but per Q1 Hamlet title page...)
Noblemen's houses
Inns of court

And that the scripts would be amended--cut/revised/expanded--for those
venues. Also that multiple potential venues/audiences would be in the
playwright's mind when creating.

I also believe that readers were in the playwright's mind during
creation. By the end of the 1590s, at least, he was well aware that
people bought and read his plays--whether authorized editions or not.

Those readers, of course, were from the educated classes, who
constituted his best customers--whether in the higher-ticket galleries
or at private/court performances. And though he was certainly a populist
playwright, he was clearly not immune to the yearning that animated
Jonson and others--for social distinction and recognition among the
upper classes.

viz. the Cambridge writer's parody of Burbage, speaking in Return to
Parnassus, Part II: "for honor, who of more report than Dick Burbage &
Will Kempe? He's not counted a Gentleman that knows not Dick Burbage and
Will Kemp."

Steve
http://princehamlet.com

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