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University of Toronto St. George
Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies
Alan Ackerman

Nov 5 th Dr. Faustus What about my needs? What about me? Dominant theme. Renaissance means rebirth. It was a time when people started to see themselves as individuals and produce art and music, etc. because of this rebirth. There were new discoveries about the solar system and astronomy. It’s a return to the classic, with a heavy influence on the Greeks. Art was reinterpreted. The individual did not have much importance except as a tiny cog in the great wheel that moved according to God’s will. The basic question arises now: where to turn for guidance and purpose? “Nothing is of less sacred than the integrity of your own mind”. We observe the facts that are observable, we reason towards them, and we need to test our suspicions. God was now made not so relevant. The pope imprisoned Galileo for blasphemy. What is humanism?-A term that is applied to the predominant social, philosophical mind frame from 1400-1600ish. It stimulated the philosophy of secularism, of worldly pleasures, appreciation of humanism philosophy, individual expression and started a new excitement about the classics. Men are still governed by theological decree. The renaissance embraced the pursuit of beauty and pleasure as a legit human endeavor. This pursuit was not restricted to arts, but clothing, language (more poetic), handwriting, design &decoration of objects and architecture. What is the self? It is a sense of personal order, characteristic mode of addressing the world. There is now a change in the social order of governing identities. The people before this period didn’t even have last names. Dr. Faustus is obsessed with naming himself. A stress on the power of individual will as well as paradoxical assault on the will. They were totally aware of this shift on self- definition. The church was burning and killing people. It was very evident that they were at a vital and dangerous moment in time, and they were now aware of what is now important. The cosmos themselves were changing. The fashioning of human identity is an artful, manipulable process. Self-fashioning developed a new range of meaning, the role of parents and teacher, and the people who can mold you. It makes the creation of self like a work of art, or an act in theatre. Acting is a mode of fashioning self. It leads to an uneasy sense for villains like Iago, who don’t seem to have a core self at the center. Machiavellian is a bad verb, used to describe a politician who manipulates other in an opportunistic and deceptive way for self-interest. “I count religion but a childish toy and hope there is no sin but ignorance.”- Machiavelli (Christopher Marlowe). He is a combination of evils- still evokes a sense of deceptiveness- a ditto who can shape themselves. The essence of politics is that you can get away with murder, than no divine thing will come to punish you. No more rules that aren’t made by men. The end justifies the means, in Machiavelli’s view. Protestants insisted there was no purgatory. There’s no point in praying to the dead, whether to heaven or hell. Suddenly there was a new queen that believed something other than you, and if you didn’t agree with her, she’d fucking kill you. Spain and England were the leading places for renaissance drama. In these places, they were able to transform these classical notions, while infusing native ideals. The English drama of the 16 th century, refused to be bounded by classical rules. Elizabethan drama is in the age of Elizabeth (hur hur) and continuity into King James after her death. Central to this period is, in 1576, James Burbidge built the first free-standing playhouse in England and called in The Theatre. Until that time, Drama had been performed in the streets, palaces, etc. After the first one, other
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