Gentlemen of a Company: English Players in Central and Eastern Europe, 1590-1660

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Cambridge University Press, 1985 - Drama - 191 pages
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This is the first book of its kind in English. It is a comprehensive and scrupulously researched account of the theatrical activity, of professional groups of players who left England for Central and Eastern Europe between the years 1590 and 1660. Touring on such a scale was an unprecedented phenomenon, and in an introductory chapter Dr Limon establishes its causes within the context of English acting traditions on the Continent in general. He describes its distinctive phases, examines the fortunes of particular companies, and stresses the significance of noble patronage which enabled the players to survive even the most severe times. The book's main chapters deal with English theatrical activities in various specific towns and regions: Gdansk, Elbing, Königsberg, Pomerania, Livonia, Warsaw, Bohemia and Austria. Additional sections discuss two key theatre institutions in Gdansk and Warsaw. With the current emphasis on contemporary conventions of Renaissance drama in performance, as a live and vibrant aspect of popular as well as aristocratic life certain areas of this field of study have been surprisingly neglected. Dr Limon's book not only remedies that neglect but also with its fascinatingly documented accounts advances evidence which enables him to distinguish Central and Eastern Europe as a separate complete region of English players' activity. Germany alone has provided the traditional focus of attention, whereas strolling in most parts of Germany became practically impossible during the Thirty Years War and the importance of an area further cast became clear. The author is Polish, and has drawn on a wide range of both original and scholarly material in several languages. His book is illustrated with seventeenth-century engravings of theatre sites in the relevant regions. It will be valuable to all scholars and students of English and Continental theatre and drama.

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