In the General Introduction, the editors of this collection explore court performance as a multimedia phenomenon. They address two crucial questions: how did early modern court shows shape dramatic writing, and what do they tell us of the aesthetics and politics of the Tudor and Stuart regimes? Chiari and Mucciolo remind the readers that Shakespeare himself was first and foremost a royal player – a status officially granted by James I. They also focus on the revision of plays for court as well as on the relationship between the commercial and court theatres. Royal patronage, they argue, ensured not only the best plays for the court revels, but also a viable commercial theatre. Finally, Chiari and Mucciolo underscore the fundamentally labile and hybrid nature of Tudor and Stuart drama which intertwined the textual and the visual on the one hand, the diplomatic and the aesthetic on the other. As they changed places, performances of early modern plays would acquire different meanings at different times in front of different audiences, and if they could become flattering spectacles, they were also likely to display a degree of impertinence which made them particularly appealing.