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Chapter 10 - ‘[T]hough Ram Alley Stinks with Cooks and Ale / Yet Say There’s Many a Worthy Lawyer’s Chamber / Butts upon Ram Alley’: An Innsman Goes to the Playhouse

from Part III - Playhouses

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 March 2022

Simon Smith
Affiliation:
Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham
Emma Whipday
Affiliation:
University of Newcastle
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Summary

Lording Barry’s play, Ram Alley, is a sensory mêlée, written for performance in 1608 and staged by the Children of the King’s Revels company at the Whitefriars playhouse. This chapter explores the world of ‘Ram Alley’, both the area staged in the play, and the real alleyway of that name, a short distance from the playhouse. Using recent scholarly work on the early modern senses, it connects the physical and imagined worlds through an exploration of the perception of a significant segment of the contemporary audience – the men of the Inns of Court whose rooms abutted on the real Ram Alley. Barry shifts our understanding of sensory hierarchy from the supremacy of the visual – an ocular centricity which has classical antecedents and becomes the dominant ideology emerging from the Renaissance - to the olfactory. This chapter demonstrates how the play’s challenge to dominant sensory theory reflects Ram Alley’s wider transgressive intersensoriality.

Type
Chapter
Information
Playing and Playgoing in Early Modern England
Actor, Audience and Performance
, pp. 205 - 222
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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