The Shakespearian Playing Companies

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Clarendon Press, 1996 - Drama - 483 pages
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The Shakespearian Playing Companies is the first history of the professional acting companies who brought drama to London in Shakespeare's time. Andrew Gurr's ground-breaking book draws on the most up-to-date research to provide a general history of company development from the 1560s, when the first of the major companies belonging to great lords began regularly to offer their plays at court and in London, to 1642, when by Act of Parliamentthey were closed down. Only in London were the playing companies able to secure purpose-built premises (such as The Globe or The Fortune), and to foster a thriving theatrical and literary culture (in direct contrast to much of the rest of England, which was overtly hostile to professional theatre). In the second part of the volume, the reader will find detailed and fascinating accounts of each of the forty companies that played in London during the period, including Shakespeare's company, The Chamberlain's/King's Men. Although professional playing was very much a collective endeavour,remarkable individuals emerge, from impresarios such as Philip Henslowe, Christopher Beeston, Richard Gunnell, and Richard Heton to stars like Richard Burbage and Edward Alleyn. Thoroughly grounding his discussion in the highly mobile social and political historical context, Gurr focuses on theplays themselves and the distinctive repertory traditions that led the different companies to stage them. These companies, and the growth of the London theatrical culture, are the factors which helped produce Shakespeare and to put into practice Shakespearian conceptions of drama. This fascinating and authoritative volume will take its place as an indispensable reference work and the authoritative history for all scholars and students of Renaissance - and Shakespearian - drama.

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About the author (1996)

Andrew Gurr has been deeply involved in the efforts to reconstruct Shakespeare's Globe theatre on Bankside in Southwark, London. He is Chairman of the Academic Advisory Committee, of Globe Education, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Shakespeare Globe Centre.Andrew Gurr's publications include: The Shakespearean Stage 1574-1642 (CUP, 1970; 3e 1992); Playgoing in Shakespeare's London (CUP, 1987); Studying Shakespeare: An Introduction (Edward Arnold). Most recently he has edited Henry V for CUP (1992).

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