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date: 21 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the historical intersections between theatre and games in order to understand the formal dimensions of spectatorship within the specific institution of the early modern theatre and the dramas staged within it. It considers how early modern card and board games would have trained theatre audiences in the performative conventions of a newly commercialized stage, and how theatricality itself becomes a kind of game whose rules are explored, modified, and constantly reinvented through their performance by actors and the audiences who watched them. It shows that staged parlour games in the plays A Woman Killed with Kindness and Arden of Faversham call upon audiences to participate in theatre in ways that are reminiscent of traditional and rival entertainment forms. It also argues that game scenes in drama do not simply theatricalize the everyday activity of playing games in a tavern or parlour. Rather, they take advantage of the fact that the experiences of gameplay and of theatre-going were commensurate on a number of levels.

Keywords: spectatorship, early modern theatre, card games, board games, theatricality, parlour games, plays, A Woman Killed with Kindness, Arden of Faversham, theatre-going

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