Actors and Acting in Shakespeare's Time: The Art of Stage Playing
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
John Astington brings the acting style of the Shakespearean period to life, describing and analyzing the art of the player in the English professional theater between Richard Tarlton and Thomas Betterton. The book pays close attention to the cultural context of stage playing, the critical language used about it, and the kinds of training and professional practice employed in the theater at various times over the course of roughly one hundred years - 1558-1660. Perfect for courses, this up-to-date survey takes into account recent discoveries about actors and their social networks, about apprenticeship and company affiliations, and about playing outside the major center of theater, London. Astington considers the educational tradition of playing, in schools, universities, legal inns, and choral communities, in comparison to the work of the professional players. A comprehensive biographical dictionary of all major professional players of the Shakespearean period is included as a handy reference guide.
with movement, pose, and expression only: raised arms, contorted facial mask, hands lowered to cover face, and so forth. The subtlety and force of such expressive movement is a challenge to the skill of the individual performer. One of the most celebrated moments in modern acting, after all, was the ‘silent scream’ produced by Helene Weigel in the role of Mother Courage in Brecht’s play named for the character. In Titus Andronicus the mutilated Lavinia (like the player Queen, an apprentice part)
of life. The contribution of all apprentices to the joint artistic effort of their colleagues would have been expected to be the same: full partnership in the fictional world of plays presented to a variety of audiences. The value of good apprentices in that respect also gave them cash value: not only did Henslowe buy James Bristow from William Augustine (a perfectly legal transaction under the terms of statute and custom), but Robert Armin seems to have passed on one of his own apprentices, and
understudy system in place. Two things are incidentally indicated by the Bath anecdote, first that experienced actors could perhaps learn even a long part in a day or so, and second that ‘parts’, the manuscript scrolls containing all the lines of a given role, must have been taken along by actors on the road. If Alleyn was sick enough not to perform, he would not have wanted to spend hours reciting his part for a colleague to learn by repetition. The unusual circumstances surrounding John
reputation, at least, was that he was known to the commedia dell’arte actors, and adopted some of their style. At the time of his ditch-ducking gag one of his identities was ‘Don Gulihelmo’, and in 1590 Thomas Nashe, writing of his own travels, recounts this anecdote: coming from Venice the last summer, and taking Bergamo in my way homeward to England, it was my hap, sojourning there some four or five days, to light into fellowship with that famous Francatrip Harlequin, who perceiving me to be
Rome from tyranny is tempered by the comic focus on erotic competition and jealousy; Domitilla, particularly, might in performance have hovered somewhere between the noble Roman and the jilted teenager. This short and relatively intimate scene is followed by a longer one including large stage groups: 3.2 once again brings torture and theatre together. Ignoring Parthenius’ advice, Domitian has Junius and Sura, ‘bound back to back’, dragged onto the stage and tormented by executioners, as