Published online by Cambridge University Press: 25 August 2022
The Introduction takes as its starting point the desire expressed in James Wright's Historia Histrionica (1699) to 'guess at the action' of early modern players, arguing that the 'action' of boy performers is partially recoverable from the texts that have come down to us provided that we are willing to read with physical skill in mind. It surveys the past century's critical fascination with boy actors, suggesting that a great deal of pre-existing work has neglected the embodied stagecraft required of these young performers. It additionally makes a case for the value of practice-based research in the study of early modern drama's corporeal dynamics, and maps out the book's integration of this method into its analysis of a wide range of plays from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Introduction ends with an outline of the book's structure, which explains how the chapters cumulatively build a more physically and theatrically sensitive picture of the work of boy actors in this period.