English drama between the late fifteenth century and the late sixteenth centuries is as diverse as it is engaging; this anthology brings together eighteen of the most interesting and important dramatic works from the period.
The plays have been chosen to give a broad view of the drama produced in Tudor England. They testify to the eclectic tastes of sixteenth-century audiences, ranging from morality plays (Mankind, Everyman), to comedies inspired by the Roman plays of Terence and Plautus (Ralph Roister Doister), to tragedies inspired by the plays of Seneca (Gorboduc, Cambises). In later plays, morality plots rub shoulders with slapstick comic business (The Longer Thou Livest The More Fool Thou Art, The Three Ladies of London), and classical gods intervene in the affairs of England’s regions (Gallathea). While some of the plays offer pure entertainment, others have a clear political agenda. King Johan is presented as a prototype for English resistance to Rome’s Catholicism; Gorboduc’s decision to abdicate and divide his kingdom highlights the vexed question of the English succession under a childless queen. Other plays comment more obliquely on contemporary events. Play of the Four Elements reflects on England’s nascent maritime expeditions to the New World, while The Three Ladies of London comments topically on immigrant overcrowding in England’s port towns, and the dangers of England’s trade in the Mediterranean. Some plays push the boundaries of what the theatre can do in staging violence (Cambises) and questioning gender roles (Gallathea).
Designed for undergraduate use, the anthology includes extensive explanatory annotations and a substantial introduction to each play; spelling and punctuation have been partially modernized in the interests of making the texts more accessible to students. In all this, the anthology follows principles similar to those developed for Christina M. Fitzgerald’s and John T. Sebastian’s Broadview Anthology of Medieval Drama; several of the plays from that anthology are also included here, while the rest have been newly edited for this volume, under the supervision of General Editor Alan Stewart.
“This is a superb teaching resource, opening up the study of Tudor drama through modernized, lightly annotated editions of eighteen well-chosen plays, ranging from the late fifteenth century to the late 1580s and encompassing a variety of genres (‘morality’, ‘interlude’, comedy, tragedy). Scholarly, but accessibly pitched, introductions situate each text, paying attention to performance and original audiences as well as textual and contextual issues. Notes on the texts, preceding each play, provide clear explanations of editorial policy and the source of the text on which the edition is based. The editors are also impressively attuned to shifts in pronunciation, using annotations to highlight where rhyme or meaning is obscured by changes to how words are sounded.” — Cathy Shrank, University of Sheffield
“Interest in that curious creature, ‘Tudor literature,’ has grown enormously in the last several decades. But accessible and readable editions of Tudor writings have lagged behind. In the important case of drama, The Broadview Anthology of Tudor Drama completely changes the landscape. Alan Stewart and his excellent team of editors have put together an immensely readable collection, with brief and knowledgeable introductions, thorough glosses, and helpful explanatory notes, focused on a perfect selection of plays. The collection showcases the fascinating range, experimentalism, and vitality of Tudor drama: morality plays, humanist comedies, court farces, Protestant history places, Romanesque school comedies, political tragedies, coterie satire, and much more, from the household drama of Henry VII’s reign up to the foundational early playhouse drama of the Elizabethan years. This anthology will become the new standard. If you want to take up the pleasures of studying, teaching, or just reading Tudor drama, this collection is for you.” —Kent Cartwright, University of Maryland
“The Broadview of Anthology of Tudor Drama is essential reading. Generously annotated and contextualized, it enriches our sense of performance culture in sixteenth-century England. Its contents demonstrate the eclecticism and variety of this performance culture; staples in theatre history (Mankind and Everyman) and plays that have garnered new scholarly interest (Gallathea and Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay) rub elbows with less well-known titles and examples of under-studied genres, including the proverb play. The result is a textual electricity that proves a dramatic companion to the conflicts and debates about government and society which typify Tudor England.” — Vin Nardizzi, University of British Columbia
“A splendid anthology that shows the range and diversity of English drama from the late Middle Ages to the rise of the commercial theatres in London. This expertly edited work contains a variety of comedies, tragedies, moralities, allegorical plays, and interludes to give any reader a proper overview of English theatre during the transitional dynasty of the Tudors. There are relatively familiar plays such as Everyman and Gorboduc, as well as a number of lesser-known gems such as Like Will to Like and The Longer Thou Livest, The More Fool Thou Art as well as a vital work, The Three Ladies of London, by one of the first stars of the public theatre, Robert Wilson. The anthology will be a great asset for teachers and students, and also for general readers and scholars eager to have a readily available guide to the theatre of the long sixteenth century.” — Andrew Hadfield, University of Sussex
“With its breadth of coverage, concise and informative introductions, and accessible texts, The Broadview Anthology of Tudor Drama makes an ideal textbook for teaching English drama from 1485-1603. This volume showcases a range of dramatic materials, from medieval morality plays to Elizabethan interludes, both highlighting and questioning their importance to the history of English drama. Alan Stewart and the contributing editors judiciously modernize spelling, offer helpful glosses and explanatory footnotes, and, in their introductions, synthesize scholarship to date while positioning the works in larger historical, cultural, religious, literary, and performance traditions. This volume is a valuable contribution to scholarship about Tudor Drama that will, in turn, surely precipitate further study.” — Laura Estill, St. Francis Xavier University