Chapter

1642: Closedown

Martin Wiggins

in Drama and the Transfer of Power in Renaissance England

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199650590
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741982 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199650590.003.0006
1642: Closedown

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This chapter argues that the Long Parliament did not close the theatres in 1642 for Puritan ideological reasons, as is usually supposed. The evidence of prior parliamentary activity suggests that policy was initially to allow the theatres to remain open as a legitimate business enterprise. What we know of the plays and other dramas being staged at the time suggests that they were not likely to be considered politically dangerous, whereas the only obviously subversive dramatic (or semi-dramatic) form, the pamphlet dialogue which flourished after the suspension of press censorship, was unconnected with the theatre. The closure of the theatres was the result of a government U-turn taken in a particular and strikingly contingent set of circumstances involving the revelation of the royalist loyalties of the master of the revels and the specific tenor of one of the sermons preached to the House of Commons on the day the closure was decided; the ideas and words of the sermon are traceable in the text of the closure order which was drafted immediately afterwards.

Keywords: Long Parliament; John Pym; censorship; pamphlet; dialogue; royalist; press

Chapter.  9281 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights)

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