Documents of Performance in Early Modern England

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Overview

As well as 'play-makers' and 'poets', playwrights of the early modern period were known as 'play-patchers' because their texts were made from separate documents. This book is the first to consider all the papers created by authors and theatres by the time of the opening performance, recovering types of script not previously known to have existed. With chapters on plot-scenarios, arguments, playbills, prologues and epilogues, songs, staged scrolls, backstage-plots and parts, it shows how textually distinct production was from any single unified book. And, as performance documents were easily lost, relegated or reused, the story of a play's patchy creation also becomes the story of its co-authorship, cuts, revisions and additions. Using a large body of fresh evidence, Documents of Performance brings a wholly new reading of printed and manuscript playbooks of the Shakespearean period, redefining what a play, and what a playwright, actually is.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...essential reading for theater historians, critics and editors alike"
-Ross King, TLS

‘Very occasionally a book comes along which should have a significant revisionary effect across a number of academic areas of study. Documents of Performance is such a book … Tiffany Stern calls into question many of the assumptions behind current early modern scholarship on authorship attribution, editing theory and practice, paratextual materials, playhouse performance, and play interpretation … Stern's important arguments on the patchiness of plays […] all early modern theater scholars will now have to take into account’.
-Anne Lancashire, Renaissance Quarterly

‘a major contribution to our understanding of early modern theater practice … required reading’.
-Alan Dessen, Shakespeare Studies

‘a wealth of intriguing insights … teaches us more about [documents’] use and importance than we thought could be known‘.
-Lukas Erne, Around the Globe

‘an important and fascinating book … challenges many misconceptions and sheds new light on the personnel and practices of early modern theaters and on the fragmentary character of the texts they required, produced, used, … Documents of Performance is … constantly enlightening … lively … impressive …’.
-C. E. McGee, Shakespeare Quarterly

‘outstrips the magisterial E. K. Chambers’.
-Katherine Duncan-Jones (book of the year, TLS)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521842372
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 11/30/2009
  • Pages: 376
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Tiffany Stern is Professor of Early Modern Drama and Fellow of University College, Oxford.
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Table of Contents

Introduction: playwrights as play-patchers;
1. Plot-scenarios;
2. Playbills and title-pages;
3. 'Arguments' in playhouse and book;
4. Prologues, epilogues, interim entertainments;
5. Songs and masques;
6. Scrolls;
7. Backstage plots;
8 and 9. The approved 'book' and actors' parts; Conclusion: repatching the play.
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