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date: 27 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines early modern theatricality through the lens of skill. It seeks to reclaim a positive account of the skill and expertise of early modern players, arguing that attention to skill has the potential to reorganize the categories through which we view the early modern theatre. It considers how feats of skill inform our understanding of specific plays by describing an ‘ecological’ model of theatrical skill. It contends that theatre must be relocated onto a continuum with other occasional public games and entertainments, all of which required special combinations of physical, verbal, and cognitive abilities. By attending to the traces, gaps, and fissures in playtexts that open a space for embodied performance practices, the chapter shows that the theatrical experience can be apprehended and evaluated in ways that are quite different from those of much twentieth-century criticism and that require a more complex cognitive and environmental approach to the theatrical event.

Keywords: theatricality, skill, early modern theatre, plays, ecological model, public games, entertainments, performance

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