The Shakespearian Playing Companies (Hardback)
  • The Shakespearian Playing Companies (Hardback)
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The Shakespearian Playing Companies (Hardback)

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£210.00
Hardback 492 Pages / Published: 25/04/1996
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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 Parliament they 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 the plays 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.

Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780198129776
Number of pages: 492
Weight: 844 g
Dimensions: 242 x 160 x 32 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
This is one of those monumental works that will last for many generations. ... , he retains in his accounts of the history of playing a lively sense of interdependence of plays and players. ... The lists and statistics are as full and as accurate as current research permits. At that level, this book is uniquely valuable. But it is much more than a compendium of known facts. ... It is a significant aspect of this important book that it carries the story through to its conclusion in the 1642 closure of the theatres. Vivid towards the end of Gurr's narrative, and vital to it throughout, is his feeling for the impact on the entertainment industry of the struggles for power and salvation that divided the nation. The playing place is always social space./Peter Thomson, University of Exeter/ Theatre Research International Vol 23 No 1
an attempt at the largest context, a comprehensive history of the companies which generated the London plays and first put them on stage. /Around The Globe/ d 01/01/98
outstanding new study ... his magisterial new book is his most important contribution yet to our understanding of Renaissance theatre activity, the first volume ever devoted to providing a general history of the London theatre companies ... in this rich work, it is his identification of the creation of London theatre culture that is most significant. As the Royal Shakespeare Company changes its working patterns, abandoning its London "home" to tour for six months each year. Andrew Gurr's charting of an earlier change seems remarkably timely. * Times Literary Supplement *
outstanding new study ... Scholars and students working on theatre history have long had reason to be grateful to Andrew Gurr. But his magisterial new book is his most important contribution yet to our understanding of Renaissance theatre activity, the first volume ever devoted to providing a general history of the London theatre companies ... although The Shakespearian Playing Companies looks like, and will be used as, an assemblage of the state of scholarly knowledge about the theatre companies accumulated over the course of the century, it is much more than that ... in this rich work, it is his identification of the creation of London theatre culture that is most significant. * Times Literary Supplement *
a "comprehensive history" of the eighty years of London playing companies ... Gurr's effort to apply his research to the plays themselves and their "highly mobile social and political concerns," makes the book especially useful for students of early modern drama ... this book represents a major contribution to our knowledge of the London stage, and is destined to remain the authoritative study of its subject for many years to come. * Douglas Brooks, Columbia University, Sixteenth Century Journal XXVIII/1 (1997) *
an attempt at the largest context, a comprehensive history of the companies which generated the London plays and first put them on stage ... no single individual or company did much entirely on their own to shape the major changes that this history of the companies and their products reveals ... It is a story without heroes. * Around the Globe *
Gurr's wide knowledge of the field makdes the book fascinating reading.../ an interesting, vastly learned book .../ The 'Shakespearean Playing Companies' will undoubtedly become an ubiquitously cited tool in scholarship.../ ... the many brilliant and broad ideas that appear in 'The Shakespearean Playing Companies'./ Mary Bly, Medieval and Renaissancedrama in England, Vol . II, 1999.
The prospects opened by this book are always enlivening, for this is the kind of work that rewrites the major issue itself. It now seems necessary to write early theater history along the lines Gurr has laid out, with the companies at the center and with his argument as the magnet which brought them there. I can think of no more exciting and far-reaching challenge for the next generation of theater historians. * Scott McMillin, Cornell University, Modern Philology *
A huge and exciting topic... focus on playing companies is... for the theater history of this period, refreshing and useful. * Anne Lancashire, Shakespeare Quarterly *

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