The reign of James I was one of extraordinary vitality and richness in English drama. Not only was Shakespeare producing his mature masterpieces, but he was surrounded by a dazzling company of talented playwrights whom he often competed against or collaborated with, as well as being significantly influenced by some of the things they did. Far from being pale shadows of the man from Stratford, figures such as Jonson, Marston, Middleton, Ford and Webster all created work of strong individual character, across a wide variety of genres, that continues to be revived successfully on the modern stage. Thrilling tragedies of revenge, riotous comedies of city life and fascinating experimental romances, history plays, political allegories, city pageants and court masques all contributed to a literature of far greater range and diversity than is often appreciated.
Hoping to dispell some popular misconceptions, Robert Jones of Topping & Company – a lifelong enthusiast for the dramatic writing of this period – leads an afternoon’s exploration of the Jacobean theatrical world, sketching in its historical and literary context and looking in more detail at a few of its most remarkable plays, several of which he has experience of directing or acting in.
The day lasts from 11am till 4pm, with an hour’s break, during which a light vegetarian lunch will be served. Tickets cost £35 for the day, inclusive of lunch and a voucher for £15 to be spent in the bookshop.
Early booking is recommended, as places are limited.
No preparatory reading is required, but those attending might wish to look at some of the following plays, all of which are easily available in good modern editions –