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Boys' Companies

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0305  Friday, 21 June 2013

 

[1] From:        John Briggs < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         June 20, 2013 10:55:24 AM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Boys' Companies 

 

[2] From:        Stuart Manger < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         June 20, 2013 12:43:45 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Boys' Companies 

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

From:        John Briggs < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         June 20, 2013 10:55:24 AM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Boys' Companies

 

Quoting a sensationalist article by one Sean Coughlan (not, it would seem a 16th-century specialist):

 

>Dr van Es says there also seems to have been sexual exploitation, 

>both in the staging of these children’s performances and how these 

>child actors were viewed by Elizabethan audiences.

>

>The academic says there are references by contemporary writers 

>to child performers in a way that is “clearly sexual”.

 

My recollection is that these “contemporary writers” were Puritan opponents of the theatre; people (then as now) more than capable of imagining things which their contemporaries fail to see.

 

John Briggs

 

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Stuart Manger < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         June 20, 2013 12:43:45 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Boys' Companies

 

Under the same 1597 licence and indeed as pretty widely documented before that date, the abduction of boys to sing in various collegiate and other foundations was not uncommon, as such foundations looked to better their profile and respect and thus patronage and thus income by finding the best voices available voices. 

 

It was a savagely competitive environment. The issue of children seen as commodities to be exploited is after all a feature of any community where poverty, the scramble to live in a hostile environment was / is intense and indeed child mortality distressingly high. Fine voices are gold dust in such circumstances. Boy actors likewise. Appalling though we may find it, sadly the practice was / is by no means rare either then or now. Do the ends—sometimes glorious—justify the means—very often shabby and abusive? 

 

Hmm. 

 

Stuart Manger

 
 

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