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  • Cited by 1
Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
August 2022
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Book description

Boy Actors in Early Modern England: Skill and Stagecraft in the Theatre provides a new approach to the study of early modern boy actors, offering a historical re-appraisal of these performers' physical skills in order to reassess their wide-reaching contribution to early modern theatrical culture. Ranging across drama performed from the 1580s to the 1630s by all-boy and adult companies alike, the book argues that the exuberant physicality fostered in boy performers across the early modern repertory shaped not only their own performances, but how and why plays were written for them in the first place. Harry R. McCarthy's ground-breaking approach to boy performance draws on detailed analysis of a wide range of plays, thorough interrogation of the cultural contexts in which they were written and performed, and present-day practice-based research, offering a critical reimagining of this important and unique facet of early modern theatrical culture.


‘Brilliantly written and argued, Boy Actors in Early Modern England is a tour de force, transforming our understanding of the boy actor. Harry McCarthy's book is the first study to consider accomplishments of boy actors across early modern performance traditions. His close readings, archival work, and practice-based research together reveal the range of the physical, affective, and intellectual contributions of early modern boy actors. A major contribution to theatre history, performance-as-research, and childhood studies, this book will be a model for future research in the field.'

Evelyn Tribble - University of Connecticut

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  • Chapter 1 - ‘All Feats of Activitie, and Motions’
    pp 24-56
  • Rethinking Early Modern Boyhoods


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