This is my MA thesis in English Literary Studies, completed with a concentration in Early Modern and Renaissance Studies, at the University of York, UK. The full thesis is available here. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Abstract: “‘A good broken music’: Shakespeare, Marston, and Dramatic Experimentation in the Repertory Companies, 1599-1604” builds on recent performance criticism to propose the interaction between repertory companies as a framework for the interpretation of early modern plays. Such a method focuses less on an author’s work in isolation than on the complex dynamics between playwrights and performers in the theatrical community of early seventeenth-century London. Within this paradigm, the concepts of mimetic desire and anti-character function are synthesized in order to read the dramatic experimentation of John Marston’s Antonio plays (Children of Paul’s, performed 1599-1601) and William Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida (Lord Chamberlain’s Men, performed 1601/2) as case studies of a unique moment in early modern English theater when dramatic experimentation with representation, language, and performance styles was not only a practice, but a self-consciously radical project. Perspective on the play texts is drawn from contemporary evidence of the conditions of performance and the performers’ unique onstage personas. The study concludes by meditating on the implications of the repertory company paradigm and these case studies for our conception of dramatic authorship, concluding with a call for a vision of early modern dramatic authorship and tradition not as individual or static, but as communal and continuing cultural processes.