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Title: On Being a Person: Elizabethan Acting and the Art of Self-Representation
Contributor(s): Bedford, RD (author)
Publication Date: 2006
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Abstract: In pursuit of what it might mean to be a person in early modern England -- and hence to understand how such personhood might be discursively expressed in autobiographical forms -- I begin with the suggestion that a member of an audience in an Elizabethan or Jacobean playhouse might have reacted as I can remember doing when, as a teenager obsessed with the idea of being a doctor, I emerged from a Surbiton cinema showing 'Not as a Stranger' (1955), for hours afterward rolling my shoulders like Robert Mitchum and convinced that I was wearing a surgeon's gown and not a duffle coat. I refer to the mimeness that occurs not when the dramatist or poet holds a mirror up to nature but when an audience member or reader is moved to imitate what is represented.There may be no documented examples from Renaissance playgoing of the sort that accompanied 'The Beggar's Opera' -- teenaged Macheaths hanged for highway robbery -- or of the alleged rise in adolescent suicide following Baz Luhrmann's 'Romeo + Juliet', but it is hard to imagine that the defiant swaggerers or the passionate heroes of the theatre had no would-be imitators among audiences. But what evidence there is tends to be partial, in the sense that it comes from dramatists hopeful of stirring spectators.
Publication Type: Book Chapter
Source of Publication: Early Modern Autobiography: Theories, Genres, Practices, p. 49-61
Publisher: University of Michigan Press
Place of Publication: Ann Arbor, Michigan
ISBN: 0472069284
Field of Research (FOR): 200503 British and Irish Literature
HERDC Category Description: B1 Chapter in a Scholarly Book
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