Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-5d59c44645-jb2ch Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-02-27T11:36:00.620Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

6 - Bowling Alone, or The Whole Point of No Return

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 October 2021

Get access

Summary

Abstract

The anonymous Look About You of 1600 calls for a game of bowls that dilates upon the sport's propensity to run away with itself. In the midst of a game at bowls played in prison, one character excuses himself for a moment. At that point the other borrows his clothes and escapes in his guise, leaving his competitor “bowling alone,” a victim of social isolation. This chapter argues that bowling offers early modern theatre a theory of isolation but also proximity, velocity, and writing. Indeed, bowling materializes theatre's sense of its proxemics and ultimately theatricalizes the relationship between dramatic fiction and space, and even offers a plangent metaphor for the role of the writer and his hopes for a return.

Keywords: bowling; Look About You; velocity; proxemics

To give you the moral of [bowling], it is the emblem of the world.

‒ Charles Cotton

“Thus far, with rough and all-unable pen,/ Our bending author hath pursu’d the story,” writes Shakespeare—the least sincere line of his most insincere drama, Henry V. But how far is “thus far”? Is it a time or a place, a duration or a location? Shakespeare is definitely thinking about space since the Chorus complains about close quarters—“In little room confining mighty men” (epil.3). “[L]ittle room” is clear enough, then—the place, elsewhere, of “great reckoning[s]” (As You Like It, 3.3.15). It's the cramped quarters of the “cockpit” (Henry V, prol.11) into which the writer has confined his work. Maybe that's why he's bending.

“Thus far” is a place, then. The line's a workplace gripe about a tiny office. But an instant later the epilogue mentions the “[s]mall time” in which this “star of England” lived (epil.5, 6). “Small time”? Like you could slap a handle on time and stow it in the overhead. “Brief” would have scanned, but here the temporal duration of this history play is deliberately spatialized, and vice versa. The notion, at the end, is that you’ve come along way without getting anywhere. Little room, small time: “thus far” is both a geographical and chronological span, the one the other in a form of theatrical synesthesia.

In a marginally less well-known history play, James IV, Robert Greene has King Arius announce that “thus far the English peeres have we displayed/ Our warring ensigns with a happy warre.”

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Amsterdam University Press
Print publication year: 2021

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×