theater without boundaries

Theater Crossing Borders: Transnational and Transcultural Exchange in Early Modern Drama
Robert Henke and Eric Nicholson, Co-editors

The commedia dell'arte actor Tristano Martinelli on the road. From Compositions de Rhetorique, 1601.
This book examines early modern theater as an international phenomenon, considering in particular the exchanges that occurred across national and regional borders that demarcated political-linguistic-cultural entities. Early modern theater is remarkable both in the ways that it represented transnational exchanges and in the ways that it enacted them, by means of border-crossing acting troupes; the transmission of theatrical tropes and gags between actors and playwrights; the exchanges of actors, playwrights, and theatrical culture at the aristocratic and thus "supranational" level; the representation of "foreign" identity; the transmission and translation of printed plays across national borders; and by many other vehicles. Early modern theater was capable of generating "contact zones" that communicated across national and regional boundaries, and allowed for both material and symbolic exchange. In this volume we are more interested in cultural relationships of exchange and reciprocity (which can obtain even in asymmetrically political alignments) rather than in one-way encounters of hegemony and domination?which, to be sure, certainly also existed between nations and regions in the early modern period.


  • Introduction. By Robert Henke
  • Section One. Traveling Actors
    • Robert Henke (Associate Professor, Washington University), "Border-Crossing in the Commedia dell'Arte"
    • M.A. Katritzky (Research Fellow in Theatre Studies, The Open University), "English Troupes in Early Modern Germany: the Women"
  • Section Two. Transportable Units
    • Richard Andrews (Professor Emeritus of Italian, University of Leeds), "A Midsummer Night's Dream and Italian Pastoral"
    • Melissa Walter (Assistant Professor,Campion College, University of Regina), "Dramatic Bodies and Novellesque Spaces in Jacobean Tragedy and Tragicomedy"
  • Section Three. The Question of the Actress: Moral and Theoretical Transnationalisms
    • Eric Nicholson (Senior Lecturer, Syracuse University in Florence), "Ophelia Sings Like a Prima Donna Innamorata: Ophelia's Mad Scene and the Italian Female Performer"
    • Jane Tylus (Professor of Italian, New York University), "Theorizing Women's Place: Nicholas Poussin, The Rape of the Sabines, and the Early Modern Stage"
  • Section Four. Performing Alterity: Doubled National Identity
    • Christian Billing (Lecturer in Drama, University of Hull), "The Dutch Diaspora in English Comedy: 1598 to 1618"
    • Susanne Wofford (Professor of English, University of Wisconsin, Madison), "Foreign Emotions"
    • Jaques Lezra (Professor of English and Spanish, University of Wisconsin, Madison), "Translated Turks on the Early Modern Stage"
  • Section Five. Performing a Nation: Transregional Exchanges
    • Clare McManus (Lecturer in English, Roehampton University, London), "Epicene in Edinburgh (1672): City Comedy Beyond the London Stage"
    • David Schalkwyk (Professor of English, University of Cape Town, South Africa), "Proto-nationalist Performatives and Trans-theatrical Displacement in Henry V"
    • Shormistha Panja (Professor of English, University of Delhi, India), "Shakespeare on the Indian Stage: Resistance, Recalcitrance, Recuperation"
  • Epilogue.
    • Mace Perlman (Professional Actor and Mime), "Reading Shakespeare, Reading the Masks: Fixed Forms and the Breath of Life"
    • Select Bibliography.
  • Index.

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