J. A. B. Somerset
University of Toronto Press, Jan 1, 1994 - Performing Arts - 833 pages
The Records of Early English Drama volumes make available historical transcripts that provide evidence of early English drama, music, ceremonial, dance, and other forms of communal public entertainment in Britain before 1642, together with the necessary interpretive introductions and notes to explicate the materials for the reader.
Shropshire, in two volumes, is the eleventh publication in the series. In the introduction Alan Somerset surveys the social and economic history of each major borough and provides a commentary on the major issues raised in the documents. He discusses travelling performers routes, the places they performed, and the remarkable public exhibitions of high-wire artists, camels, bears, and giants. The records for this county are rich and varied, providing new detail about local playing and festivities. From Shrewsbury for example, comes the complete documentation of a unique, semi-circular outdoor amphitheatre. The documents reveal much - from robbery and riots - to the sometimes acrimonious disputes that show the growing Puritan opposition to sports, which attempted to combat an equally stubborn affection for traditional customs.
These records are an invaluable addition to the scholarship of early drama, establishing as they do part of the total context of the great drama of Shakespeare, his predecessors, and his contemporaries.
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