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In this engaging text, Arthur F. Kinney introduces students to Shakespeare's plays in the context of Elizabethan and Jacobean theater. He focuses on the material conditions of playing and of playgoing in order to show how they both inspired and restricted Shakespeare's art. Subjects treated range from the venues where Shakespeare's plays were first performed and the practicalities of the acting profession to the composition of audiences and the cultural and regulatory contexts in which companies of players operated. Each topic is discussed in relation to a diverse selection of Shakespeare's plays as well as contemporary documents, so that the plays and the theatrical world in which they were produced constantly illuminate one another. A core of 22 plays is considered in total.
Arthur F. Kinney is Copeland Professor of Literary History at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Director of the Massachusetts Center for Renaissance Studies. He is the editor of
Renaissance Drama: An Anthology of Plays and Entertainments (Blackwell, 1999
), A Companion to Renaissance Drama (Blackwell, 2002) and of the journal
English Literary Renaissance. His other works include
Elizabethan Backgrounds (Second Edition, 1994),
Rogues, Vagabonds and Sturdy Beggars (Second Edition, 1995),
Humanist Poetics (1986), and
Lies Like Truth: Shakespeare, Macbeth, and the Cultural Moment (2001).