In this book, first published in 1991, David Mann argues for more attention to the performer in the study of Elizabethan plays and less concern for their supposed meanings and morals. He concentrates on a collection of extracts from plays which show the Elizabethan actor as a character onstage. He draws from the texts a range of issues concerning performance practice: the nature of iterance; doubling and its implications for presentational acting; the importance of clowning and improvisation; and the effects of audience and venue on the dynamics of performance.

The author suggests that the stage representation of players is in part a nostalgic farewell to the passing of an impure but perhaps more vital theatre, and in part an acknowledgement of the threat the adult theatre’s growing sophistication offered to its institutional and adolescent rivals. This title will be of interest to students of Drama and Performance.

Preface;  Acknowledgements;  Notes on the Woodcuts;  1. Introduction: A Definition of the Context of Study  2. The Itinerant Player and Sir Thomas More  3. Evidence of Players in Hamlet  4. Kemp, Clowns, and Improvisation  5. Clown as Justice: The Mayor of Queenborough  6. Attacks on the Common Player  7. The Poetaster, the ‘War of the Theatres’, and the Children  8. University Drama and The Return from Parnassus  9. Histriomastix and the Inns of Court  10. Apprentice Drama and The Hog Hath Lost his Pearl  11. Heywood, Massinger, and the Defence of Playing  12. Ambiguities  13. Conclusion;  Appendices