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date: 24 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines how the experience of poverty followed players wherever they travelled, furnishing the European theatre with some of its most popular tropes while at the same time persisting as a raw, brute reality throughout all of its formal translations and displacements. The chapter sets the drama of England, France, Italy, and Spain against the backdrop of the new modes of capitalist accumulation that were beginning to transform European society, including the commercial theatre itself, in order to demonstrate the omnipresence of poverty as theatrical energy in early modern theatre in the form of hunger, physical degradation, begging, charity, and economically induced crime. It shows how poverty functioned as a fertile source for actor’s gags and authors’ conceits and considers the different ways in which the themes and energies of poverty are staged in plays and performance, namely: marginalization, fictionalization, carnivalization, criminalization, repression, and vestigial presence.

Keywords: poverty, drama, early modern theatre, hunger, begging, charity, crime, plays, performance, marginalization

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