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date: 22 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter locates festivity within the early modern theatre. Through an analysis of Thomas Dekker’s The Shoemaker’s Holiday, it considers how holidays functioned not as communal rituals but as commodified entertainments; how one-off experiences tied to the cyclical rhythms of the seasons came to be understood as performances that could be enacted year-round—that is, rendered intelligible as theatre within linear models of historical time; and how playing came to be imagined not only as a mode of sociality but also as a vendible commodity. The chapter shows how the commercialization of theatre altered the economic exchanges at the heart of traditional festivity and argues that the professional stage was engaged in a complex project to situate its own performances in relation to existing festive practices. By focusing on early modern contexts, it highlights the ways in which theatricality serves and produces multiple—and, from a modern perspective, often unexpected—cultural functions and effects.

Keywords: festivity, early modern theatre, Thomas Dekker, The Shoemaker’s Holiday, holidays, entertainments, performance, commercialization, professional stage, theatricality

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