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Titus Andronicus

Course Code
Elizabeth Harvey

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Theatrical Contexts
the texts we have are the traces of a fully embodied theatrical performance
deeply theatrical culture
civic and religious festivals, music and dance, court masques, jousts, tournaments,
entertainments, bear baiting, bull baiting, royal progresses, executions
court masques: royal performances, at court or aristocratic settings. precursor to opera,
spectacular, most were theatrical effects, moved from Elizabethan, to Jacobean and
Charles I reign. became more and more spectacular as time progressed, moves into
17th century, a lot of music, dance, elaborate costumes and machinery. deeply
parabolical, performed in presence of monarch, nobles watching, sometimes aristocrats
took part in, at end, the boundary between the spec’s and players was dissolved usually
through a dance.
textual inter text, other theatrical performances have things to say about the nature of
private courtly ent. vs. public theater
royal progress. there’s absence of media, ways needed of bringing image of monarch to
the people. this was a primary mode. in the progress the monarch would set out, often
with elaborate retinue of nobles around, move through the city and often country,
itinerary. crowds would gather
Stephen Orgel, R. scholar “The Illusion of Power,” Berkeley 1975
the theatricality of power/the power of theatricality
power had a potency and sway over the people by virtue of its theatricality. the very
nature of the progress was theatrical. queen had to put on lavish jewels, elaborate hair
clothing and litter, resplendence visible to the people. wearing of clothing still governed
by sumptuary laws. discipline the wearing of particular kinds of clothes. cloth with gold
only monarch or most powerful wealthy people could wear. Feather on hats or clothing,
birds class system. at the top were the noble birds of prey, analogically equivalent to eh
spectacular nature of punishment.
penalty for treason: hanging until not quite dead, burning only to hurt, disembowelment
and castration, drawing and quartering
michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish 1975 (tans 77)
power of sovereign written on the subject’s body
spectacle of punishment as mode of disciplining the subject’s body
first Globe burned down, performance of Henry VIII when ceremonial cannon shooting
caught the thatched roof on fire
diff actors and playwrights involved with diff companies
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