Post from the Past 1: Spying the Playhouses

Catlyn to Walsingham, 1587 This post is the first in a series that will share our work in the archive, including photographed images, transcriptions, and a brief discussion of some of the archival material we have been surveying.  While many libraries are strict on what can and cannot be shared online--particularly with photographs--the British Library permits controlled and … Continue reading Post from the Past 1: Spying the Playhouses

“Specially youthe”: Regulating London “Venues”

Social media has reacted with frustration and resentment at the news this week that one of London’s most famous nightclubs, Fabric, has had its licence revoked (#fabricreview). While I will avoid being overtly political, here, the closure of the nightclub inevitably prompts questions over responsibility for regulating such venues, the legitimacy of closing a popular … Continue reading “Specially youthe”: Regulating London “Venues”

Early Thoughts on the Archives

…and now for something completely different. After last week’s performance workshops, this post moves us from the rehearsal space back to the library; I have been revisiting archival documents associated with the rise of the commercial playhouses and getting a clearer sense of the context that surrounds extant references, restrictions, and correspondence about playing. The … Continue reading Early Thoughts on the Archives

News from the North

This month, in the wake of the Brexit vote, Adrian Chiles travelled around the country to speak to those—particularly those at one remove from London—who voted Leave. Whatever one’s political leanings and whatever one made of the Panorama programme itself, Chiles sought to bring “News from the Midlands,” representing the views of those underrepresented, infuriated with … Continue reading News from the North

“What is a house?”

Recently, I was lucky enough to attend the Before Shakespeare project’s first Advisory Board meeting. The above question, posed by Dr Andy Kesson, provides a good example of the project’s opening strategy. The board was keen to interrogate long-accepted terminology from the early modern studies toolbox, sometimes with disorientating effects (on this observer, at least) … Continue reading “What is a house?”

The Story So Far: First Advisory Board

The Before Shakespeare project held its first Advisory Board meeting earlier this month. These meetings offer the chance to hear thoughts on the project’s progress and to hear suggestions, comments, and advice (it’s in the name!) from the diverse and exciting array of people on the board—medievalists, an archaeologist, and a theatre practitioner and director, … Continue reading The Story So Far: First Advisory Board

An Elizabethan Haunting: Antitheatricality and Playgoing

A haunted theatre these days is a perfect premise for a horror film. It is also, apparently, a backstage reality at a prominent West End venue, the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane—perhaps because it is the oldest surviving and functioning theatre construction in England. There are, of course, old superstitions about the Scottish Play and worries … Continue reading An Elizabethan Haunting: Antitheatricality and Playgoing

Putting the Shh into Shakespeare

In our first blog post I raised the question of the defining characteristics of the sixteenth and seventeenth century playhouses: their sheer number, their architectural and performance function, their attempts to capitalise on the art of theatre, and most crucially the way they were the product of working people as financiers, artists and core audience. … Continue reading Putting the Shh into Shakespeare