Drama and Religion in English Provincial Society, 1485 - 1660

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In this book, Paul Whitfield White examines the interplay between theatre and religion in provincial England from the early Tudors to 1660. In challenging the critical narrative of secularization, suppression, and demise, he recasts the history of that drama in the light of fresh sources and scholarship. The project engages with recent interests in Shakespearean criticism concerning the theatrical culture of the north of England, where a documented contemporary touring troupe performed Shakespeare's plays in Catholic households. Defying the 'medieval/renaissance' divide of past drama/literature scholarship, the book begins in the early Tudor period, when parish revels flourished as part of a nationwide surge in religious fund-raising and charity. It proceeds with the argument that the history of early modern theatre in provincial society, as in London, remained vibrant and diverse for popular audiences in many parts of the country, and that religion contributed to that vitality and variety.