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Introduction

In England, during the middle of the sixteenth century to late seventeenth century, the relationship between the Puritans, the government, and actors was extremely volatile; the Puritans believed that actors were heathenish devils set out to destroy the world, while actors believed that the Puritans were just overreacting. To add to this theatrical battle, the British government was stricter in their regulating of plays and the content that was performed on stage. These events culminated with Parliaments decision in 1642 to ban acting as a profession and close all play houses. Thus, with such a contentious relationship amongst the three groups, it was obviously nearly impossible to have a rational dialogue occur between the Puritans, the government and actors. Until now, thanks to the publication of this anthology. For the first time in scholarly history, three texts representing this tumultuous time in British theatre are appearing in one edition: Histrio-mastix: The Players Scovrge or Actors Tragaedie, by William Prynne (1633), The Actors Remonstrance, or Complaint: For the Silencing of their Profession, and Banishment from their Severall Play-houses, by Anonymous (1643) and An Ordinance of the Lords and Commons Assembled in Parliament for the Utter Suppression and Abolishing of All Stage-Playes and Interludes, by John Brown (1647). Certainly, each text is important because each represents its social groups viewpoint on theatre. Histrio-mastix represents the Puritan viewpoint of theatre and actors, The Actors Remonstrance, or Complaint represents the actors feelings on their profession being banned and An Ordinance of the Lords and Commons represents Parliaments vie ws on theatre and actors. When republished together, these texts become a powerful discourse between the Puritans, actors, and the government. No longer is each text just a representation of their social group. Instead, each text acts as a call and answer to the other texts in this collection. Histrio-mastix calls for an abolishment of everything theatre and demands that actors and theatre patrons be strictly punished for their sins. The Actors Remonstrance, or Complaint responds to these allegations brought against them by defending their profession and denying any heathenish wrongdoing. Finally, An Ordinance of the Lords and Commons delivers the final answer to both texts by ordaining that acting is illegal and that all theatres must be closed. Thus, this republication is significant for theatre and history scholars as the dialogue provides a personal view into the relations between the Puritans, actors and the government: a provision that allows scholars to better understand and conceptualize the reasons and motives behind the societal uprising against British theatre in the mid seventeenth century. In order to fully understand the texts, the purpose of this introduction is to first orient readers with the historical background surrounding these texts before finally providing textual background information on each text. Historical Background In 1529, King Henry VIII decided to divorce his wife, Queen Katherine of Aragon, so he could marry Ann Boleyn. What King Henry did not realize is that his divorce and subsequent remarriage in 1533 would provide fodder for playwrights and actors: Writers and actors discovered that religious plays especially Moralities, Moral Interludes and Saint Plays could easily be adapted for polemical use as weapons with which to advance or to oppose the reformation of the Anglican Church. (Wickham, Berry, and Ingram 17) Obviously this use of plays infuriated King Henry. So, in a bid to regain control, Henry VIII decided to have the government regulate the content of religious plays. This was the first time in theatre history that the government tried to intervene in the affairs of playwrights and actors. The regulation of plays began in 1530 and lasted until his death in 1547; specifically, King Henry was only concerned about suppressing any expressions of religious opinion, [that was] contrary to those laid down by the government, presented in emotive rhetoric and inflammatory spectacle on stages in public places and likely to lead to breaches of the Ki ngs Peace (Wickham, Berry, and Ingram 17-18). Even though this suppression is minor compared to the total suppression of all plays that would occur in 1642, this moment in history signals the beginning of an era that would be difficult at best for actors and

playwrights. In May of 1559, under the reign of Elizabeth I, the restriction on plays became stricter. After a series of anti Catholic performances at the Twelfth Night festivities, Queen Elizabeth issued a theatrical policy . . . that requi red local authorities to review in advance all maner Interludes to be played eyther openly or privately (Manley 534). No longer was the government monitoring only religious plays: now the government was monitoring all plays, a mandate that would shape the conditions of theatre for the 1560s and beyond (Manley 534). In 1603, Queen Elizabeth died and King James succeeded her. This succession signaled a change in British culture: the population of London was increasing rapid[ly], which in turn made London the main centre [sic] of the commercial theatre (Heinemann 3-4). But with such prominent changes for theatre came other changes too: England was in a process of [societal] change[:] . . . one based more directly on wealth and property; and thi s meant a shake-up of social and moral codes (Heinemann 3). Specifically this change in morality was evidenced in the plays that were being performed: the Jacobean period, in particular, was characterized by the surprising prominence of religious themes and properties on the public stage (Williamson 119). Consequently, the theatres depiction of religion made the Puritans extremely anger. This anger is evidenced in the 1606 Acte to Restraine Abuses of Players, an ordinance that declares a fine will be issued to anyone who is involved in plays of religious nature (Williamson 119). In turn, this ordinance provided a stronger basis for the Puritans and the government to speak out against acting: with many more detractors [of the theatre] . . . on record [than supporters], the social status . . . [of] plays and players was at its lowest (Dillon 113). Preachers spoke out in their sermons, declaring that the theatre was demonic in origin and that the theatres depiction of love on stage . . . [would] have immediate effects on the conduct and mood of the audience (Lake and Questier 427, 448). As the status of actors and playwrights decreased, the status of the Puritans increased, resulting in a Puritan revolution that would target everyone from King Charles I to the actors and playwrights. In 1640, the Puritan Revolution began and by 1642, the Puritans had control of Parliament. Thus, on September 3rd, 1642, the House of Lords approved an ordinance by the House of Commons to suspend t he performance of stage plays and close all theatres (Wiggins 93). In 1647 this suspension was further reiterated with the release of another ordinance titled: An Ordinance of the Lords and Commons Assembled in Parliament for the Utter Suppression and Abolishing of All Stage-Playes and Interludes. This ordinance restated what the 1642 one stated in regards to actors and playwrights, but also implied harsher penalties to theatre patrons as well. With these ordinances in effect, the theatre world would remain silent for twenty years, except for a few citizens who were brave enough to participate in underground plays. Finally, when the Puritan Revolution ended in 1660, theatre was lawfully restored, allowing actors and playwrights to have their professions back.

Textual Background I. Histrio-mastix: The Players Scovrg or Actors Tragaedie, by William Prynne Histrio-mastix: The Players Scovrge or Actors Tragaedie was written by William Prynne and was published in 1633. The text, which is over 1,000 pages long, condemns both the profession of acting and actors in general. A Puritan, Prynne was known for his controversial writings; as Kishlansky explains, Prynnes writing style was distinctive. He was a master of vituperation, of unqualified condemnation and unadulterated contempt (605). In the past, Prynne had written attacks upon Arminians, challenging Charless ban on the public discussion of the doctrine of predestination (Kishlansky 605) and attacks on the Church itself (Rowse 135). In terms of the texts genre, this was not the first text written attacking the stage; opposition to the stage . . . persisted through the first four decades of the seventeenth century and Histrio-mastix was the compendious capstone of this discourse (OConnell 116). Histrio-mastix was so controversial that it took Prynne a long time to find someone who would publish the book.

When it was finally published it was viewed as quite seditious as the text was considered a libel against general classes of English society; so many high society people, including the Queen herself, were patrons of the theatre . To condemn the theatre was to condemn high society and the Queen (Kishlansky 607). But now in contemporary times, Histrio-mastix is viewed by scholars as an example of the governments ability to censor fre e speech. After Histrio-mastix was published, both the text and the author were censored by the government , with Prynne put on trail and found guilty of seditious libel (Kishlansky 606-07, 623). Prynnes punishment: life imprisonment, 5,000 fine, [and] his ears . . . clipped (Rowse 136). As of this publication, there are three known copies of Histrio-mastix: two of the copies are located on the Early English Books Online database (EEBO). Both of these copies have been scanned from the Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery. The third copy is located on the Princeton Theological Seminary electronic database. All three copies have a copyright date of 1633. Moreover, after reviewing in all three copies, the portion I chose to include in this edition, I found no differences between the copies. Thus, I elected to transcribe the copy from the Princeton Theological Seminary electronic database, as the two copies from the Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery had specific restrictions that the copy may be used for reference use only and not for reproduction. II. The Actors Remonstrance, or Complaint: For the Silencing of their Profession, and Banishment from their Severall Play-houses, by Anonymous The Actors Remonstrance, or Complaint was written anonymously either by an actor or [a group of] actors (Bawcutt 188) and was published in 1643. This text, which comes on the heels of the Puritans shutting down the theaters in 1642, details the actors complaints in having their theaters shut down. This text is significant, because as Bawcutt points out, it was prophetic in its concerns that the 1642 closing of the playhouses would not be brief, but would be long and damaging to the profession of acting (188). In addition, this text was published during what was the height of the Puritans opposition to the theater; (OConnell 18) after copious amounts of texts written against the profession of acting, the closing of the theaters was the next big step in the Puritans movement. In addition to complaining about their profession being banned, this text provides insight into how the actors were affected on a personal level and the struggles they went through with their profession taken away. As of this publication, there are three known copies of The Actors Remonstrance, or Complaint. The first two copies are located on EEBO; one copy has been scanned from the Harvard University Library, while the other copy has been scanned from the British Library. I have reviewed both copies and have found no differences between either edition. Moreover, both copies have the same copyright date: 1643. The third copy comes from the digitization of an 1872 book entitled The Old Book Collectors Miscellany Vol II and is edited by Charles Hindley. The digital copy is located on Google Books while the print copy is located at the library of the University of California Los Angeles. In this book, Hindley has modernized all the spelling and claims it is strictly just a satirical Tract. For these reasons, I have chosen to transcribe the copy from the Harvard University Library, strictly for these reasons: it is the earliest edition (1643) and it was the first in the listing on EEBO. However, because Hindley has annotated his version in a thorough and scholarly manner, the majority of my annotations will come from Hindleys edition. III. An Ordinance of the Lords and Commons Assembled in Parliament for the Utter Suppression and Abolishing of All Stage-Playes and Interludes, by John Brown An Ordinance of the Lords and Commons Assembled in Parliament for the Utter Suppression and Abolishing of all Stage-Playes and Interludes was written by John Brown a member of Parliament and was published in 1647. This is technically the second ordinance declaring the abolishment of theatre; the first ordinance was issued in 1642, but as Jenkins suggests, there must have been many infringements of the original edict making this 1647 ordinance necessary (85). The difference between the 1642 order and the 1647 order is t hat the later order was harsher: in addition to demanding that all theatres be destroyed, players [were] to be seized and whipped as incorrigible rogues, and anyone caught attending a play [was] to be fined five shillings (Jenkins 85). Essentially, this document is the culmination of the Puritan/theater turmoil that led up to this moment, thus becoming an example of how the stringent control exercised over the English stage . . . was consequent on political and constitutional changes in the sixteenth-century (Horner 52). As of this publication, there is only one known copy of An Ordinance of the Lords and Commons. This copy,

located on EEBO, was scanned from the British Library. It is important to note that the copyright date on the e-copy says 1647, but EEBO has the date listed as 1648 and in the abstra ct of the text, adds the phrase [i.e. 1648] after the date, 1647. Because the text itself lists only 1647 as the date and because my research refers to the ordinance as 1647, I will refer to the ordinances date as 1647. This is the only difference between the text in this book and the EEBO copy: the rest of the text is an exact transcription of EEBOs copy.