Postlewait1 - Theater Events and Their Political Contexts:...

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Unformatted text preview: Theater Events and Their Political Contexts: A Problem in the Writing of Theater History Themes Postleweit The primary task "for; all. histgrians, once they have finished their reg afidhegun to write, is to describe and interpret the relations be eventslllfii.11..possibléffilfiféfifi‘l‘lieahiding pihblem'is-tovspe ‘ only the defining traits of any context but also the causal features that g? tribute to the making of the event. With this task in mind, I want to sider how theater historians use the concept of politics to define an this topic is far too complex to cover in a single essay, so I will illustr- the problem with one specific event: the 1624 production of Thomale dleton's A Game at Chess, the anti-Spanish play staged in London at Globe Theatre by the King’s Men. The production took piece from Aug 6 (Friday) to August 16 (Monday), nine continuous days, not countin two Sundays when theaters were closed.2 It was the longest—running- during the English Renaissance. This play, which T. S. Eliot called perfect piece of literary political art,” can serve as a touchstone for: __ analysis of the relation between theater and politics (or event and ' text).3 I also take it up because, as R. C. Bald noted, "more is known abo A Game at Chesse [3112} than about any other pre~Restoration play.”4 Middleton’s play is a political satire, written in the allegorical m ‘ The allegory is based upon the game of chess. The play pits the wlfj players, representing England and Protestantism, against the black pl ers, representing Spain and the Catholic Church. The White King is Jam 1, the Black King is Philip IV of Spain. The white players also feature; White Knight, who is Charles, the Prince of Wales (who would beco king in 1625), and the White Duke, who is George Villiers, the Duke Buckingham. Buckingham was the lord admiral and the “favorite” a viser of King James I. In addition, the white pieces feature a treas01 White King’s Pawn who represents the Earl of Middlesex (Lionel Cr field).5 Middlesex had served as lord treasurer and advocated a policy: accommodation with the Spanish, especially the marriage of Prii Charles to Donna Maria, the lnfanta of Spain.6 Another key character purity and innocence under the assault of Jesuit deviousness and lust b also the Protestant forces in the Palatinate region of the German states tha the I-lapsburg armies, both Austrian and Spanish, had recently invade The major characters among the black pieces include the "Fe Bishop” who represents Marc Antonio de Dominis, archbishop of Spala~ tro. When de Dominis came to England in 1616 he had converted t0 THEATER EVENTS AND THEIR POLITICAL CONTEXTS 199 ('1 L. ‘ - "15m and was taken up by James, who put him in charge of the ring of . . . - fifthe Savoy, which he administered with severe austerity. But in ' ing opportunities for himself in the papal state, he reverted to ., ha 'm and returned to Italy. In consequence, by 1624 he was de- file ' many people in England, inside and outside of the government. x. Omjnant black player, however, is the Black Knight, a Machi- "figure who represents the Spanish envoy Don Diego Sarmiento .wna.(1567M1626), who became conde de Gondomar in 1617.7 Be- H'5'1'3—18 and 1,620~22 Gondomar was the resident Spanish ambasw . finished their ' ' and, exerting considerable influence over Eames and his for~ the relations --1icy',8. From 1618 forward Gondomar had encouraged a marriage Eblem‘isde-s n' .rince Charles and the Spanish Infanta. Appealing to Iames’s de— tausal features-t , keep England out of the continental wars, Gondomar tried to ma- t'e 'ames into a marriage agreement that wouid, at the very least, military battle against the Spanish troops in the German states and th rlands. Gondomar even hoped that eventually England, with a ssay, so I wi ueen and the possibility of Catholic children, might one day re- ' I the Catholic fold. James, for his part, hoped that a marriage agree" eu'id induce Spain to withdraw its troops from the German states , s son-in~iaw, Frederick of Bohemia, and his only daughter, Eiiza— ; _ struggling unsuccessfully to defend Protestant causes. Ost- Protestants in England feared and hated Gondomar. They s‘oopposed to the marriage negotiation. Indeed, in February 1623 as a touchstq M ince Charles and Buckingham went to Madrid in order to negoti~ tics (or even r- 'riage contract and to convince Spain to withdraw its military “more is kn v ames faced growing resistance to his foreign policy. Even key storation play" ‘ l “ ' tiers. of the Privy Councii expressed their concerns over Catholic in~ in the alieg ri , ‘" mas and their anger about the military assaults on the Protes- 'he play pits r is in Germany. Thus, when Prince Charles and Buckingham re- against thebi v " 0111 Madrid in October 1623 without a Spanish bride, the c0untry he White Kin ed'in pubiic celebratiOns. Bonfires, church bells, and large crowds flayers as {ea « ed arles along his route from Portsmouth to London. The city he- ,5 (who wou \k stival of happy citizens, shouting “Long live the Prince of ;e Villiers’ t‘ ‘ ' ables of food and wine lined the streets, candles burned in win- and the "fa"; over one hundred "blazing piles were counted in the short dis— 35 feature a fi fi etween St. Paul’s and London Bridge/’9 ‘ "arles and Buckingham immediately shifted to the anti-Spanish I I ereby aligning themselves with the prowar campaign both inside 1e marriage ‘_ . tSide of the central government. Their new position helped to gal— nother key Ch the Parliament, which James had caiied into session in February 1 _ May 1624, after severai months of struggle between Parliament Iking (with Charles and Buckingham often acting as mediators), _ greed to support a war effort if Pariiament voted him a series of had recently 111' d- ‘ :2 91‘9st pay for both the war and his debt-ridden government. Thus, eces includ n18h influence on James and his foreign policy subsided. For a few 5, archbisho 9 ' during the summer of 162.4 the country was in a frenzy of anti- 3 he had can finish Campaigns and prowar preparations. When the Earl of Oxford, .-J t 1 (=1, ant as those that had upon his return from Spain?" Quite explicitly, then, A Gmne at Cties 1623 and 1624. Despite the fact thatlames had issued stage representations of living royalty and goverm King’s Men obtained ‘ progress to country estates). Observers at the time h political significance of the play and production. John Woolley, w the day after it opened, was amazed by how explicit it was in diapl'a the "devilish plots and devices” of Count Gondomar. Woolley " mented that “assuredly h every man been hanged for it. ” Sir George Lowe, two days after the duction opened, noted that the play "describes Gondomar and all Spanish proceedings very boldly and broadly, so that it is thoug will be called in and the parties punished.“2 11 Spanish ambassador, offended by the 5 scene of the production: “The Prince of Wales heartily beat and kicked . . . Gondom ' great hole with hideous figures.“3 In its nine days of performance, A Gameat Chess attracted at least 0’ tenth of London’s population. Many people were turned ' r n offici traordinary, Don Carlos C0101 He also demanded an inquir aveling Sir Edward Conway, secretary of state, wrote to the L members of the Privy Council on August 12. He expressed the king’s pleasure and charged the council members to begin an investigation and alsoe that it hath ben p and that the first notice thereof should be? a forraine Ambassador; while soe inanie Ministers of his owne are thereaboutes and cannot but haue heard of it.” boldnes nowe taken by th mitted to bee soe acted, brought to him, by THEATER EVENTS AND THEIR POLITICAL. ' wrote to Ambassador Coloma, assuring hiin th m this matter with the proper publicity."16 rdared ”severe punishment" of the apparently surprised - ' y ‘ i « 'hich aspect of the event most concerned him: the subject ina t— ’ay, the stage representation of living royalty and governmen- he Playwrights audacity in ignoring-edicts against such rep~ Gris and topics, the audacity of.his own King’s Men in staging the Spanish complaint and his need to address it, the embarrassment n that he felt over his own theater company being the guilty 0 face more public controversy or the need to contend with yet another political and religious ersy' over foreign relations. Any one or all of these factors might "ffi'b'uted to his demand that those responsible should be pun- 'e_'thing was obvious: he was frustrated that his own governmen- people, including the players . 0 had licensed the play. The "swore that "they added or varied from the same nothing at all.”18 lobe '3producti0n, they insisted ased upon the text that the an earlier, shorter version of the production ts report to the king, the council rebuked Herbert, but then left to " he tasks of reading the play, questioning Herbert, and admin- tpunishment. As far as we can tell, no such examination of Herbert re Whatever the case, he continued in his office without interrup- the King’s Men, though restrained from playing for ten days, re— ' business as usual by the end of August.19 Middleton himself ap- tly went into hiding. It’s possible that he was tracked down and :1; dried temporarily, but the evidence is quite sketchy Basically, no _ ived any significant punishment, despite assurances to the Span- _ asaador that justice would be done, with publicity o,'-;ibesides the obvious political satire, what is the political context play on because he was sympathetic “dangerous matter” in the manu- ‘But we do not have any evidence that he was motivated by politi- ___nsiclerations. Indeed, we must wonder why Herbert would open _ lf-to the possibility of the king’s anger and punishment, perhaps ert- ‘ string his owri position and income. He had just taken over as Master W918 a year before, when James had knighted him. By licensing the id he make a political mistake or a political calculation? :Various theater scholars, believing in the possibility of a political 1-2, dESpite its representation of royalty, message. He did not identify any CONTEXTS in (if)? hxtwl'l \ ii», i.,-.{.<, CRITICAL THEORY AND PERFORMANCE 2.02 intrigue, have speculated that Herbert was urged on by the anti—Spa faction in the Privy Council?0 If so, perhaps he felt that he had the probe tion of key people at court, including his distant relative William Herb-é third Earl of Pembroke, who was one of the richest men in England held the powerful position of lord Chamberlain.21 Also, though we h no direct evidence, Henry Herbert might have had the support 0ft Duke of Buckingham, and even the tacit sanction of Prince Charles,.}; example, John Woolley, in a letter to his friend William Trumbull (date August 20, 1624), speculates that the prince and duke "were all loat ' have it forbidden, and by report laughed heartily at it.”12 Both the pr and Buckingham are represented in positive terms in the play. If these key people supported and protected the Master of the Reve playwright, and the King’s Men, this could explain the light punishmen for all involved. So the argument goes. _ ' Andrew Curr, for example, argues that "the King’s Men Were .d loyal to James in 1624 with A Game at Chess, when they adopted the col" party line favoured by William Herbert, Lord Chamberlain and thir _ u of Pembroke. . . . The anti-Spanish faction at court must have backed ' play and protected Herbert as Well as the company from its co: queiices.”23 But as Curr acknowledges, the Earl of Pembroke ingly opposed to the Duke of Buckingham, whose growing p0 ' ' over James had begun to displease the lord chamberlain ( would Pembroke support a play that celebrated Buckingham’s triun' over the Spanish? Gurr admits that the historian Thomas Cogsweil ma “a very strong case against any direct court role in the piay’s producti (143). And Gurr acknowledges that "on paper, of course, [which i ‘_ only extant form of evidence, nobody was willing to admit that they been directly involved in the plot” (144—45). Perhaps, then, it might be dent to modify "must have backed the play” with a more tentative ’-’7 have backed the play.” In contrast to Gurr’s speculation, Jerzy Limon makes a case for co intrigues that approached the status of a grand conspiracy. Altho- Limon acknowledges that the evidence is sketchy or nonexistent, he: gues for "a consciOusly contrived campaign, initiated and sponsored’a: group of politicians, whose goal it was to use all means available to the support of both nobility and the commons.”24 Specifically, L credits the Duke of Buckingham and Prince Charles with orchestratin' the "war party,” the theaters, the playwrights, and the Protestant pa phleteers. Given this control from the top, "the players and playwrig felt secure enough to engage themselves in what seemed to be anti~r .al ist campaign initiated. by the new court party of Prince Charles an Duke of Buckingham."25 Thus, behind the scenes, Charles and Bucking ham instigated and carefully controlled the production of A Game at Che This circumstantial argument, freed from the need of collaborating e dence, allows Limon to posit that the playwright and players were 5 servient to a powerful faction of like—minded people within the ce government. \ ed on by the an felt that he had 3th: treiative Willia ‘- :hest men in Bn 1 " 1.21 Also, thongg m 9 had the sup 9.23150 possible to argue, by contrast, that A Game at Chess re- tics of subversion rather than the politics of control. That is, s the supposed subversive aims of the piaywright and .0 hallenged the central government. Margot Heinemann, for as daimed that A Game at Chess served as a catalyst to the "op- ” of the court and Parliament.26 She contends that “in its -_religious radicalism,” the play goes “well beyond what its 115 would normally have COuntenanced.”27 A Game at Chess, aft]! of other plays in 1623—24, was "critical of the policy of the n 'houtd be seen as nothing less than “a turning-point in relaw I n=the government and the nation” (237). It thus fueled "a post«Ref01‘mation crisis of authority, in which the theatres O-rméthe ’rnentalities’ to which they will later appeal, not only at d. thong the political elites but more Widely among London citi- d es” (238} " brewer, the anti-Catholic plays at the theaters in the 16203 con— , fie subsequent Puritan resistance to Charles 1, who would lose Menty—five years later. By so arguing, however, i—Ieinemann is of the common fallacies in argument: post hoc, ergo propter hoe. theseiconjectures, it is impossible to establish a cause~and—effect ' hip etween A Game at Chess and the beheading of Charles. The point" that she discovers is located in her assumptions, not in ' e. Nor is it possible to demonstrate that Middleton’s satire had nee-upon political developments in the 16308 and early 16405. pansive argument allows us to believe that the Renaissance the» eel-shaping beliefs and guiding actions, was a decisive polit— 'the era. emann’s argument flounders because (1) she presents a reduc~ 'ecurate conception of “Puritan” ideology and identity; (2) de— an overly neat formula that reduces 1624 politics to a battle yal-authority and Puritan opposition; (3) misreads or ignores is evidence, which suggests that a number of contending po- ‘ agendaswere operating at the time; and (4) wishes to grant to the— it s a political influence on governmental policy and public cannot be demonstrated conclusively.28 hrprisingly, several scholars, including T. H. Howard-Hill, kitten, and Thomas Cogswell, reject conspiratorial and subver- etures.29 In his study of the Office of the Revels, Dutton writes: nnot rule out the possibility of a conspiracy behind A Game at law evidence for it, and it remains an unnecessary conjecture. {self is reaily no more inflammatory than many others of the pe- e circumstances of its presentation, heightened by the ’person— _ Dildomar,’ made it so conspicuous and created a furore.”0 H. Howard-Hill, who has spent a fair part of his scholarly career hid. and editing of this play, is even less committed to any argu— ut-the conspiratorial or oppositional nature of the play and pro rgues that there are three levels of allegory in the play: moral, William Trumb'_ id duke "were a arms in the play Master of the Re lain the light 'the King’s Men ten they adopted Ihamberlain and- )urt must have company from :- _ of Pembroke w se growing poll hamberlain (141 ed Buckingham n Thomas Cogs" e in the play’s_:prti r, of course, ing to admitt haps, then, it with a more tentafi mon makes a c and conspirac tchy or nonexis't itiated and s on all means ava _ ms.” Specific Charles withorcli ;, and the Prot' at .e players and-p .at seemed to 1b of Prince Chai‘l nes, Charles an" Iduction OfA It need of colla. _ ght and playe s people within til THEATER EVENTS AND THEIR POLITICAL CONTEXTS CRITICAL THEORY AND PERFORMANCE latédultidsely to..contempora_ry political circumstances tl sation of specific__p9l_itic_al“enteritis/31Howard-Hill’s dis ineaninfishihaymbe too guarded, for the Spanish amba demonstrates that the contemporary references were perceived as p caily insulting. Moreover, political motives and religious motives c be neatly separated into two distinct aSpects of behavior in an era ofire gious wars. Still, Howard-Hill does put us on guard against court intri ' and conspiracies. And he reminds us that by nation, including James, had taken an anti—Spanish, prewar position, '- play was basically in accord with the new national policy. What, then, are we to think? Here we have the most famous and portant case of a political drama in Renaissance England, but we calm agree on even the basic features of the political context for the product“) its reception, and subsequent events. Indeed, We cannot even agree that had a specific political context. The evidence is open to a wide rang interpretations. It is possible, of course, to construct the political context 0 the basis of a series of suppositions, but these kinds of arguments are lie- together with standard rhetorical tropes and weasel words ("it see likely,” "it is plausible that,” "surely they intended,” “perhaps,” ” "this would seem to suggest,” "it must have been possible,” ” cidentai that," “common sense dictates that,” course, can avoid qualifying phrases; necessarily, return to the play itself? Obviously, topical references that spectators easi , _ nation at the times. It is quite appropriate, then and now, to identify political references ( . ., gham, Count Gondomar) and to interpr the satiric purpose of the political themes (e.g., anti~Spanish and an Catholic messages). But this kind of topical analysis fails to satisfy mo'st scholars today. We insist that the concept of “politics,” when applied theatrical events, encompasses more than mere topical references and m tits. The political context extends beyond such indexing. cholarship of the last few decades 0 I , d discourses of the controlling rulers. and social elites or the transgressive tactics and oppositional strategies the theater artists and their audiences. Whether the topic is public or couI‘ political is the least 3 till as a mop ll circumstances . isms aiflgious fl _ than as: toward-Hill’s diam" " ‘ . ISS " 1e Spanish ambass e Ishakespeare or Jonson, censorship or cross-dressing, the onélula for explaining the operation of politics gets reduced, far 0a basic binary of centralized power versus selective (even but-usually inconsequential) modes of subversive resistance.33 : ' 'I.th0ugh, politics can be understood in a more complex man~ these popular ideas on the dynamics of power. For example, (she's interpretive idea for constructing the overall context, the fiixteen factors that contributed to the politics of 1624 in En- g need to be considered: The-bake of Buckinglmrn’s campaign to hold onto power. After his pid rise as lames’s favorite, Buckingham carried out a series of o tical moves to consolidate and expand his power, including new position as lord admiral. For example, in 1624, following "e failure of the marriage negotiations, he shifted to the anti~ anish faction, for reasons of political cunning as Well as com- 'itrnent. Likewise, his simultaneous alignments with Charles James called for great political skill.34 m aissance En Ilitical cont and . rmce Charles’s growing sense of power. Upon his return from wgifel Words- " drid, the young prince began to assert himself against James, Iteiided, perhaps” ,, issfather; he emerged as a decisive voice in the government in 'iate.1623 and 1624. rmce Charles’s anger, even his sense of lnmiilz'ation. Charles was frustrated and embarrassed by the failed marriage negotiations Madrid in 1623; his pride was wounded, so he needed to emonstrate to the English and Spanish that he was more than a olitical pawn. Prince Charles’s concern for his sister. Worried over the fate of his Sister Elizabeth and her husband in the Palatinate wars, Charles 113 cl the prewar issues and factions in 1624 to address, perhaps 'eve, his sense of obligation and care. Personal feelings merged 'ith political events, if not religious commitments. His religious eliefs were less clearly articulated than his political agendas at ‘e been possible,” “it it,” and so on). News essarily, a histori lity. But when tent v nto apparent facts: ands in defeat? Ass rigue, Where, then, 11' y and production- icting the event, I y and its produc :nized, given the. hen and now, to id lGondomar) and e.g., anti—Spams. an inalysis fails to salts, “politics,” when The maneuvers of prewar aristocrats. A group of pOWerful prewar __r:stocrats, including Pembroke, Belfast, Nottingham, Oxford, and outhampton, played a major role in the changing politics of the early 1620s. James had held them at bay between 1621 and 1623, cl even imprisoned Oxford and Southampton after the 1621 Farm reasserted themselves in matters of national policy. The decreasing power of the pro-Spanish faction within the Privy Coun— C11. The miscalculations and lessening pOWer of a group of Privy _ Ouncil leaders who had been supporters of the Spanish policy, including the Earl of Arundel (Thomas Howard, who was a atholic) and the Earl of Middlesex (Lionel Cranfield, who had advanced under the patronage of Buckingham but had committed \ THEATER EVENTS AND THEIR POLITICAL CONTEXTS 205 CRITICAL 206 THEORY AND PERFORMANCE himself to an accord with Sp factions and for the shifting f Buckingham and Charles, 7, The general collapse ofthe Howard family. The Howards had gained great power after the death in 1612 of Robert Cecil, Earl of SaltsT bury and paramount statesman for James. As architects of James's governmental policy, the Howards controlled the Privy Council for several years. Henry Howard, Earl of Northampton, served as lord ‘of privy seal; Charles Howard, Lord of Effingham and Barf. of Nottingham, served as lord admiral until 1619; and Thomas; Howard, first Earl of Suffolk, served as Lord Chamberlain (1603" 1614) and lord treasurer (1614~18). They favored an alliance Spain and opposed parliamentary campaigns for the P causes. But because of corruption, incompetence, and fan ical decisions, they failed to halt the rise of Buckingham, displaced them by 1624. 8. The patronage system of rewards and favors. This rew was distributed not only by James but ernmental leaders, such be brokered. Throughou tern of honors, titles, tr determined many of tl thereby setting up corruption.35 lty polit- '- who had ard system Tl also by the various gov~ u as Buckingham. Almost anything could t the reign of James this patronage sys~ ade monopolies, offices, and pensions 1e political alignments and obligations,- a political world of clients and a network 0 worth, the Commons wa Protestant assembly on and national honor.”36 Ii partnership with the Ho James on subsidies s able to unify thesley, Earl of South broke. They were within the divided y slowly shifting Jam _' away from Spain and the p ro~Spanish advocates. the country were strongl feelings were strong; ind tion in the Palatinate, ' against the Hapsbm'g pitch in 1624. 12. The loss of power 1 had been very influential in his d envoys in 1623 y anti—Spanish and anti-Catholic. Thef eed, the growing suppor the door for the pro“, ingham and Charles, ' re Howards had gained“. aert Cecil, Earl of Sahs As architects ofJamesl )llEd the Privy Counc l orthamp ton, served of Effingham and Ear ntil 2619,- and Thoma rd Chamberlain (16o vored an alliance with gns for the Protestant tence, and faulty pol' Buckingham, who had This reward system 3 by the various gov-I [most anything could as this patronage sys-' )ffices, and pensions. ants and obligations, "its and a network of'. is. Under the leadere _ and Thomas Wentfi ’an overwhelminglyf ; religious prejudice.--. ornmons, 1n uneasy 'ced the issue with .e Lords was guided uding Henry Wrio- erbert, Earl of Pern- ct political factions. i “<1 co LT H. E? 0% 3" B ates. saround the country. .stituencies around anti~Catholic. The pport for interven-- estant princes and- highest emotional I Count Gondornar James, the Spanish suggestive power _ 24 the Spanish en— 13. 14. 15. 16. voys attempted to slander Buckingham so that James would doubt his motives and loyalty, but their charges against him failed to convince James. With that, the Spanish envoys lost much of their substantial influence over James and his policies. The vociferous rhetoric of the pamphleteers. In 1623 and 1624, after years of tight control on publications, the pamphlets began to flow off the presses. Pamphleteers such as Thomas Scott, John Gee, and John Reynolds not only inflamed the “godly” congre- gations who supported the Palatinate venture but also supplied vital information, ideas, and rhetoric for the growing anti-Span- ish sentiment in Parliament and the country. For example, Gee’s anti~Spanish The Foot out of the Share sold over five thousand copies in March and April 1624. It was followed by a second edi— tion in early May. Then by late May he published New Shreds of the Old Snare, which also sold quite well. At this time a "culture of slander” spread through English society in speeches, gossip, pamphlets, plays, and books, filling—even overwhelming—4hr: courts with trials for libel, defamation, sedition, and blas- phemy.37 The systems of control, such as press censorship, could not silence the many voices. The pulpits as political and religious forums. Inside and outside of London, the pulpits, including the pulpit at court, served as communicative centers for commentary on political issues and national policy. Various sermons, some of highly inflamed rhet- Oric, presented critiques of James’s Spanish policy of neutrality and pushed for a Protestant confrontation with Catholic powers. A number of sermons focused on the religious war in the Palati- nate. Despite royal proclamations about what should and should not be said, the pulpits were often beyond the control of licensing and direct government supervision. Even governmen— tal reprimands of preachers for venturing into explicit political criticism failed to curtail the sermons. The distribution of political ideas and controversies. By 1623 political ideas and controversies were spread not only by the printing in~ dustry and book market, which continued to grow, but also by the burgeoning school system that had created an educated gen- try who actively debated political issues and increasingly in— volved themselves in politics, both locally and in London.38 The thousands of alehouses. In England alehouses were everywhere, in great number. One existed for every one hundred people. in these alehouses, pamphlets were read aloud and discussions poured forth on current events. The alehouses provided forums for commentary on the collapse of the Spanish marriage, the daily debates in the Commons during the spring of 1624, the news from the Palatinate, the gossip about governmental divisions and pow litical struggles, and the new fascination with both Prince Charles and Buckingham as harbingers of England’s destiny. \ THEATER EVENTS AND THEIR POLITICAL CONTEXTS 207 CRITICAL TH EORY AND PERI? 208 ORMANCE Politics had many voices, many agendas, and many locations. From Privy Council to the alehouses and pulpits, voices were raiSed in dialog and dispute. And at the center of all of this activity the ki and pulled by the contending factions and factors, 1 to and carry out his political agendas. So must return to james, who, role in governance. At times the events seemed to control him. Yet h continued to direct many aspects of the foreign policy. And though the for a Spanish marriage had failed (for many reasons, including the poti- in Madrid and Rome), he was soon able to negotiate an alliance with French—«in part because of ti ie new poi/vet behind the Fre dinal Richelieu. This alliance woui ing Henrietta Maria, the French si nationalism in England, James w Catholic—~a marriage that Charles things, then, England’s political scene was being controlled, by a dead man. Thirteen years after the death of Cecil, his of playing France against Spain was still guiding the countr ng tried to rule. P as still able to neg accepted, whatever his misg Constructing Contexts for Theatrical Events As the preceding catal political event in 1624 ,' it was tied to these vario tributed to the sociOpolitical environment of the errand contradictory as they are—prov registers for the politics Of theati ds of actions, attitudes, events, knowledge that the‘lpoiitical dime in any and all of thediollow’i‘n; ,--. L.» L’Sfl'ipts and Texfhsxfi‘ nsions of these eventsrg‘ n be g en contextual locationsj specific manuscript and pub- _ have three published quartOS - '- THEATER EVENTS AND THEIR POLITICAL CONTEXTS 209 many locations. From Quarto r. was published in London {1624/25}. Quarto 2 is a as were raised ' - 9?. ay’ 1’51 dlangu tof quarto I, but quarto 3 (1624/25), published in Leiden (a Protes— ypfiénghold), is a new edition, based upon a manuscript different from she used for quarto 1. Besides the published quartos, there are six nt manuscripts, with one written in Middleton’s own hand and an— I'partially so. Three manuscripts are in the hand of Ralph Crane, the . énér of the King’s Men. He and Middleton had worked together be- 50'_.we can assume that Crane was a trusted scribe for preparing a text bduction and publication. And yet, as T. H. Howard-Hill notes, --é removed some of the sexual and scatological slander that Middle- “ ad directed at lesuitsfi'9 Richard Dutton also points out that Crane, ' -”extren1ely professional” in bringing order out of Middleton’s u ijpts, "became an editor of the text, as much as a copyist, and was homewin constrained by censiderations of what Middleton wrote.”0 se'idiolects in the manuscripts and the quartos suggest that Middleton ' rane viewed the politiCal meanings and functions of the play differ- fl A150, the manuscripts reveal that the play was changing and devel— op _g_during 1624. The earliest of the six manuscripts, probably writte ndgune 1624, is 310 lines shorter than quarto 3. Among other things, it I' he character of the Fat Bishop, who represented Marco Antonio de minus, former archbishop of Spalatro. This character, likely added dur- _ehearsal, was probably Written to accommodate the acting skills of lliam Rowley, a popular actor. He was also the coauthor with Middle— king tried to rule. Pus , he still attempted to he] log of political cond ntained a fairly vigor 3, control him. Yet he licy. And though the ins, including the tiate an alliance with i the French throne, :625 with Charles nia. ll. Despite the Prat, I egotiate a marriage. ver his misgivings, mtrolled, at least in- :ecil, his cunning poli' as country. :1 between March 99 was hardly a um rs conditions that government. More are motivated by iirections. Within? Jple were divided, T0111 religion, ma : foreign alliances Buckingham. So“ , 01' at least parts of it (yet another idiolect to be investigated). have not one but nine manifestatipnswofw the play, each of which re- gigsyngiLatic political intenti'oiis‘and meSanger!"nonmetal-ism 'ublished quailosithu—E'pro'fidsnot assessable registers of Middle— shifting political tactics and aims over several months but also signs ditional contributors who expressed their own political perspectives. the challenge we face is to figure out which of these versions were rn, we want to trace the chang- _‘ at emergervitlfea‘cl ,“Qn‘ef "1' , - ' r _, "I I ‘uflt‘r’hrqu ‘ r . 5M the politics mans oflndfvjduals j W's (an m“ LL. a! (mi l l s c t r. l 1ttitudes, events _ 'Ins, decisions, and actionsof the hp filoi‘inanceitext. In the theater the playwright but also the play- poses, values, needs, dispositions, 159C351 and programs contribute to the meaning of the production (and performanc ). Because the play was licensed by Henry Herbert, Ster of the Revels, on june :12, but not performed until August 6, it is it? likely that some or the revisions in the manuscripts and the quartos development of the Fat Bishop as a significant character), reveal con- . firms of the players, as Howard-Hill insists: “There is no reason to se published quart l5 CRITICAL THEORY AND PBRF 210 ORMANCIS doubt that the significant wrenching of the fundamental conception was inspired by the theatric Middleton had shown them his early script.”42 Besides the addition of the substantial role for Rowley, the plaYer' created a series of Visual codes that added specific political l neanings g, the production. For example, as Don Carlos Colorna noted i sadorial letter back to to look like the young Philip 1 : for our lord the King, because of h aintings of Velazquez (e ection} capture and express play from the pi is youth, dress, and other d .g., the ones in the Prado and th aspects of young Philip (including famous chin), so the actor who portrayed the king articulated his 0 sion of Spanish pomp and power. Likewise, gre senting Count Gondomar, t1 was responding to the politics of impersonation simply to the politics of the dramatic text itself. The nature 0 performance, with the necess fore the audience, can be seen years historians have begun t place within specific meanings. For exainpl cially interested in in WII ve at effort went into re re Black Knight. Clearly, Don Carlos Colom and representation, not», ary pre as part of the history of ti o pay attention to t systems of cultur e, scholars of Renaissance esp ' atters of gender represe nta tion and cross-dressing on y and proper}: r of August 11, 1624; ck doublet sign " spectators Were q costuining for their political meanings f A Gem only. the black and white costuming bu also the stag tures>iat were used to identify Cou ‘t 1, which represents the Fat Bisho e at Chess, we can discover political signs in no e properties and gas it Gondomar. The title page 0 p, the Black Knight (Gondoma represent major fi addition, the players enhanced the beginning of act 5 which was staged for a special entrance of the Black K night (Count Gone domar). The members of the King’s Men had acquired the special litter and the chair of Count Gondomar, the former Spanish- abnormal abscesses in the air is represented”- Vox Populi, pubj THEATER EVENTS AND THEIR POLITICAL CONTEXTS 211 The pamphleteer John Reynolds also identified Gondomar with his a: .- ile for Rowley, Cific political i ‘ ' L accurate detail, ding his bodily ailment and his ' ' neanin . - rloma noted 1‘] ' s, added special fical poignancy to the satire, over and beyond what the dramatic text ‘ . 1 an an f'}epre58nted. Textual references, such as Jokes about “buttocks” and m to Chess the Blae ' , i [- act 2 were thus played up. A ‘ ‘ cks has easil ' *m I and othei d the Fraud .1. Ight and the other black pieces were herded "d jcked into a large black bag that appeared on stage as a kind of Mouth for the Spanish. In this manner, the Black Knight, “the ‘ghfiest MaChiVaeI-politician / That e’er the devil hatched" (5.3.204h5) ' theatrically diseinboweledwto the delight of thousands of spectators. the visual codes of the production added their own political mean- the text. Gondornar’s fistula represented not only a flaw in his oral corruption of Spain, the Jesuits, night (Condom ble guide to- ...
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Postlewait1 - Theater Events and Their Political Contexts:...

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