Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: https://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.773336
Title: The revolutionary theatres of Sir William Davenant, 1650-1667
Author: Watkins, Stephen David
ISNI:       0000 0004 7960 7496
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2018
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Abstract:
Scholars of the seventeenth-century theatre frequently cite William Davenant (1606-68) as an important cultural figure. Not only was he uniquely responsible for producing plays and musical dramas during the 1650s-a period in which commercial theatre was officially prohibited-but he also established the more successful of two theatre companies at the Restoration of Charles II in 1660. His achievements in revolutionising the English stage include introducing the proscenium arch, as well as painted, perspectival scenery to the public theatres. He employed the first professional actresses. Yet, Davenant's contribution to the political and intellectual history of his moment has proven less appealing to critics, who often account for his shifting allegiances by dismissing him as a self-serving turncoat. This thesis, however, argues that Davenant's engagement with revolutionary politics is inextricably linked to his theatrical experiments. Reading the key texts of the revolutionary period-from Gondibert (1650) to The Tempest, or the Enchanted Island (1667)-the thesis argues that Davenant staged a series of debates about the most pressing political issues of the period, and thus appealed to a wide range of constituencies, including the Republican authorities and the Carolean elite. By situating the works within their immediate historical and political contexts, each chapter will show how Davenant conceives of his theatre as a space for exploring questions and ideas about the nature of sovereignty, of power, and of loyalty and obedience, and of how the theatre as a civic institution might serve as 'collateral help' in examining these. Rather than dismissing Davenant's work as bland and unimaginative, this thesis reveals a body of work extremely alert to political and cultural change across the 1650s and 1660s, as well as a writer adept at negotiating with the authorities to rehabilitate the theatre as a viable cultural force after a period of trauma, dislocation, and upheaval.
Supervisor: Hunt, Alice ; Mcrae, Andrew Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.773336  DOI: Not available
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