John Astington brings the acting style of the Shakespearean period to life, describing and analysing the art of the player in the English professional theatre 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 theatre at various times over the course of roughly one hundred years - 1558–1660. Perfect for courses, this survey takes into account recent discoveries about actors and their social networks, about apprenticeship and company affiliations, and about playing outside the major centre of theatre, 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.
This book presents a new approach to the relationship between traditional pictorial arts and the theatre in Renaissance England. Demonstrating the range of visual culture in evidence from the mid-sixteenth to mid-seventeenth century, from the grandeur of court murals to the cheap amusement of woodcut prints, John H. Astington shows how English drama drew heavily on this imagery to stimulate the imagination of the audience. He analyses the intersection of the theatrical and the visual through such topics as Shakespeare's Roman plays and the contemporary interest in Roman architecture and sculpture; the central myth of Troy and its widely recognised iconography; scriptural drama and biblical illustration; and the emblem of the theatre itself. The book demonstrates how the art that surrounded Shakespeare and his contemporaries had a profound influence on the ways in which theatre was produced and received.