Category Archives: theatre history

Is Shakespeare’s World a ‘Hodgepodge’?

How does Clare’s intertextual approach of comparing Shakespeare’s work with his contemporaries alter our perception of his reputation?

Becky Callaghan, Elli Brown, Luke Mulligan, Kelly Corcoran, Sophia Kypriotis

Clare highlights that Shakespeare worked more within a realm of playwrights as opposed to as an individual; he drew inspiration for his plays from a range of sources, including other contemporary plays.

“Romantic comedy which Shakespeare had made his own throughout the 1590s, was evidently on the wane and losing ground to the acerbic plays produced by the children’s companies. These Shakespeare could not ignore, and the Jacobean comedies that followed are experimental, darker, and anti-romantic” (143).

Clare challenges the perception of Shakepeare’s literary genius by highlighting how many of his plays were merely a response to popular demand, whether that was as a result of audiences, or what materials his contemporaries were producing. However, despite this Clare does also draw upon how Shakespeare did in fact alter his plays according to his own literary style. Drawing upon how the likes of Lyly made the genre so versatile, Shakespeare was able to adapt his plays to suit the popular genre, whilst remaining within his own stylistic preferences.

“There is nothing in Lyly’s dramaturgy to compare with the nightmarish experience of the lovers as they lose their sense of self. The desires and passions that are released in the woods through the intervention of the fairies are destabilizing, disorientating, and highly disturbing” (121).

The cross-referencing of other plays and genres in Shakespeare’s own work adds to the theatrical elements within his plays. This is evident in A Midsummer Night’s Dream as the woods are associated with something entirely different to those in Lyly’s pastoral works; Shakespeare retains some sort of status, because he used the woods to symbolise something unique.

“Lyly’s plays are set up as inoffensive comedies of love, particularly fitting to allegedly female sensibilities.” (119)

“[…] the artisans are brought into A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but without any sense of social exclusion.” (121)

Lyly’s plays are catering towards a certain audience. Shakespeare also caters to specific audiences but in a different way. We disagree with Clare’s statement that it was done ‘without any sense of social exclusion’, because it appears Shakespeare is sustaining social hierarchies which would have been popular with the courtly audiences which he was appealing to.

The Golden Boys – Golden Age of Jacobean Era

Give a warm welcome tooo…  William Shakespeare (‘The Upstart Crow’), Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, Robert Greene, John Lyly, Beaumont&Fletcher, Thomas Kyd, John Webster et al.


Featuring TOP HITS: Dr Faustus, Tamburlaine, Volpone, The Alchemist, Sapho and Phao, Galatea, Knight of the Burning Pestle, The Scottish History of James the IV, Pandosto, The Spanish Tragedy, Duchess of Malfi, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, King Lear and SO much more!

Bringing you your Thematic favourites:

Supernatural: (spirits, fairies, witches, devils and ghosts) Think: Ariel in The Tempest; Ghosts in Hamlet, Macbeth (a double-trouble dose of witches too), Julius Caesar, Richard III, Cymbeline; Fairies in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Scottish History of James IV; Pretend Ghost in Knight of the Burning Pestle; seven deadly sins and Mephistopheles in Dr Fautus, Deities in Galathea (and ‘dancing fairies’) and, Sapho and Phao.

Meta: Prologue in Tamburlaine, Play-within-play of Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Revenge: (tall glass of bitterness and violence – delicious!) Volpone, The Spanish Tragedy, Othello, Titus Andronicus, Hamlet, The Duchess of Malfi and King Lear.

Deception: (secret affairs, hidden agendas and disguised identities), Othello, Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, Pandosto, Romeo and Juliet, Dr Faustus (honestly, who tries to deceive the ultimate deceiver Himself…), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (oh Puck, you mischievous thing!), Galatea, Love’s Labours Lost.

Deadly endings: (tragic suicides, mortal injuries and bloody murder) Titus Andronicus, Tamburlaine,  Macbeth, The Knight of the Burning Pestle, The Spanish Tragedy, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Othello, Duchess of Malfi — the list goes ON.

Serving us theatrical hit after hit !

They all have that golden Elizabethan theatre quality that is unlike any other found outside the Jacobean Era! They know their audience — if blood is what you thirst for Titus Andronicus will satiate! Feeling the spooky season upon you, have some Macbeth, The Duchess of Malfi or Dr Faustus — can’t go wrong with witches, ghosts or demons!

They know what sells and they have it in bucket-fulls! A variety of combinations through intertextuality to amuse, delight, fright or fascinate ! Plays with familiar aspects yet so singular as a whole, weaving together all the best titbits.

With their all time classics, these are our golden boys…

A Most Splendid and Educationall Blogg Concerning Those Things Of Theater Historie; Wherein All Things Written Shall Be Deserving of a Terrifick Mark

Dost thou wish to be a learned person? Dost thou wish to learn of those things concerning theater historie? Then hurrah! For thou hast found the right place, dear scholar! (But seriously, read on for this week’s blog – it’s guaranteed to be a thrilling experience).

Continue reading A Most Splendid and Educationall Blogg Concerning Those Things Of Theater Historie; Wherein All Things Written Shall Be Deserving of a Terrifick Mark

Theatre History: Contemporaneous documents and what they can reveal

That’s a long-winded title but bear with me, it gets more fun.

As a round-up on studying Elizabethan theatre history, we’re looking at 2 areas: How the nature of performances was shaped by rehearsal practicalities (Harriet) and what we learn about Shakespearean theatre from contemporaneous documents (Lucy). In this post I’ll be touching on the latter topic.

Continue reading Theatre History: Contemporaneous documents and what they can reveal