Drama and Politics in the English Civil War by Susan Wiseman

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By Susan Wiseman

In 1642 an ordinance closed the theaters of britain. Critics and historians have assumed that the edict was determined and inviolate. Susan Wiseman demanding situations this assumption and argues that the interval 1640 to 1660 was once now not a spot within the creation and function of drama. particularly, during the interval writers concentrated in its place on quite a number dramas with political views, from republican to royalist. In examining the various kinds of dramatic creation of the 1640s and 1650s, Wiseman deals new insights into the theater of the Civil battle.

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Sample text

However, as The Arraignment of Superstition (1642) shows, this was not always a process of caricature. 37 Actually set in a church, and structured as an argument rather than a small drama, this dialogue shows 'the good minde of the Protestant, the Indifference of the Glasier, and the puritie and zeale of the Separatist'. The point of contention is the stained glass in a church: 34 1642-1649- Cases in politics and drama Come honist Glasier, we must crave your ayde To helpe us pull these popish windows downe, And set new glasse for which you shall be payd, For sure the Lord on us for them does frowne And truely brethren should we let them stand, I feare 'twill bring a terrour to this land.

42 Playlets carve out an economic and intellectual position for themselves by mimicking other printed genres, especially news, in such a way as to 'be' both these things and a dialogue or playlet even, possibly, performed either in a private house or in the street. Thus the playlets (like other pamphlets but with the added dimension of dialogue and mimicry and therefore with a greater yield of pleasure to the reader) come into a new relation to the state, participating in creating the sphere of 'civil society' precisely separated from the state.

A few months later the stage was silenced. Thus, where the strictures of 1642 made the dramatic form implicitly political, the fall of Star Chamber made the printing of pamphlets, the critique of corruption and the elaboration of political theory easily available to a large audience. 21 Dramatic texts, previously the record of theatrical performances, had their context transformed and politicised by the closure and national events. They, like the dialogue, now offered a sequence of positions from which a topic could be debated, reframed scandalously, or satirised; and in compressed forms (reminiscent of the shortened romances of the chapbook) they could be marketed as news.

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