About the Project
This project introduces the reader to research that I am synthesizing for my English M.A. thesis: “Lancastrian Drama: A Case Study of Acting Companies’ Visits to Stanley Households, 1587-1590.” This project offers a general reader an introduction to the history and research cited in my thesis and was created as part of the requirements for English 503, Web Design. Whilst this project is completed for the purposes of this assignment, the site functions as a space for synthesizing my thesis' ongoing research.
The project suggests that early modern drama should be considered outside of the more traditionally discussed London context. We know that the Queen's Men and Strange's Men visited the Stanleys frequently from 1587-1590. This project begins to explore reasons why these companies may have made the difficult journey to Lancashire. This re-evaluation of the companies' repertories in the Lancastrian Stanley Household challenges historical and contemporary perceptions of the north.
The Thesis Proposal
The research synthesized on this website is for my forthcoming thesis which is currently being written. I have outlined my thesis proposal below.
The Stanley household accounts show Lancastrian households functioning like courts with a constant stream of visitors and entertainment. From 1587 to 1590, these accounts – in a rare extant manuscript – detail that the Queen’s Men and Lord Strange’s Men visited the households with remarkable frequency. This thesis offers a repertory-based reading of these companies’ plays and considers the implications of their performances in Lancashire. The survival of the Stanley accounts, recently completed REED volumes, the new DEEP database, and Patrons and Performances website provide enough data to suggest that there was a strong dramatic tradition in Lancashire. The repertory-based approach has only recently begun to consider an acting companies’ corpus of plays prepared for performance in relation to provincial drama. I argue that the definition of “provincial” is too broad and that Lancashire’s dramatic activity merits its own study. There is a significant difference in how the two companies treat the topics of nobility, religion, and region. I ask how much the influence of both companies’ patrons affects their treatment of these themes. I also place both companies’ performances into the context of Lancastrian culture and ask how the portrayal of these themes would relate to the region directly. This study will be the first to offer a comparative repertory-based approach to drama in the north of England.
I would like to offer my sincere gratitude to my supervisor Dr. Erin E. Kelly. Without her patient understanding, admirable support, and unfailing encouragement, I would not have engaged and enjoyed writing my thesis even half as much as I do. Additionally, the support of Dr. Janelle Jenstad, and the involvement of Dr .Pablo Restrepo- Gautier has been invaluable. Thanks too are necessary for Dr. Arnold Keller; without his web mastery skills and patience I would not have been able to put this website together.
Additionally, my thanks are due to the scholars who have provided a model and inspiration for my work. Sally Beth MacLean and Scott McMillin's groundbreaking study The Queen's Men and their Plays (1998) inspired me to explore acting companies at the Stanleys and also gave me a superb model for the repertory approach. This model has been further encouraged by scholars' work in the wonderful Locating the Queen's Men, 1583-1603: Material Practices and Conditions of Playing (2009) edited by Helen Ostovich, Holger Schott Syme and Andrew Griffin, and by Brian Walsh's Shakespeare, The Queen’s Men, and the Elizabethan Performance of History (2009). Equally important is Richard Dutton, Alison Findlay, and Richard Wilson's Region, Religion and Patronage: Lancastrian Shakespeare. Manchester: Manchester UP (2003). Lawrence Manley, Sally Beth-MacLean, and Scott McMillin's work on Strange's Men and the Queen's Men continually feeds into my thesis. Additionally, the work of Elizabeth Baldwin, Lawrence M. Clopper, David George, Andrew Gurr, Christopher Haigh, David Mills, Barbara D. Palmer, Alan Somerset,and Paul Whitfield White, has encouraged me to pursue a provincial approach to both companies, and triggered my enthusiasm for this subject. Those scholars who delved into the Stanleys' history enormously inform my work: J.J.Bagley, Robert Barrett, Barry Coward, and F. R. Raines.
Without the incredible research of the REED volumes, particularly David George's volume on Lancashire; the Records of Early English Drama (REED) website; and REED Patrons and Performances website - my research would not have been possible. The DEEP database has enabled and supported my repertory approach. No less important, is the work by the SQM project in Performing the Queen's Men and the Queen's Men Editions website - which continually inspires me to research the Queen's Men. The research about both companies and Lancashire itself is continually ongoing and I have not been able to acknowledge all research here, but I am most grateful for work in the field.
Any missing names are only due to oversight. Any ommissions, mistakes or errors are entirely due to me and not the scholars referenced. Please do refer to my bibliography for more references. I would like to offer my sincere thanks to all of the above for setting examplary examples for my own research.
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