Article Title

Damnable Deconstructions: Vice Language in the Interlude


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

Thinking about the sites chosen for permanent London theaters between 1567 and 1600, and the reasons for choosing these locations, naturally leads to considering the rise of Elizabethan opposition to the drama and the underlying motives for it. While Jonas Barish points out that "the antitheatrical prejudice" has existed since the days of Plato and Socrates, he also emphasizes that the flourishing of medieval Church drama resulted in very sparse and sporadic objections to playing. A tretise of miraclis pleyinge, a fourteenth- or early fifteenth-century Lollard tract, waxes indignant in its opposition to playing, but as Barish convincingly argues its writer was forced into some strange stratagems and illogicalities in trying to adjust the charges levelled against plays by the ancient Church Fathers (that plays were idolatrous encouragements to worship false gods) to fit the medieval Church drama, which strove to enhance worship of the one true God.1 The writer or writers of A tretise found few who agreed with this view, while the alliance of drama and doctrine continued well into the sixteenth century; Paul Whitfield White's Theatre and Reformation has shown how the religious reformers used the stage as a weapon of controversy between about 1535 and 1556 and how Protestant writers continued into the 1570s to use the drama for polemics and instruction.2 William Ringler reinforces the point by outlining how relatively infrequent were the published instances of disquiet about playing before the mid- 1570s. But suddenly, Ringler suggests, there occurred a paradigm shift, and an increasingly strident opposition to playing emerged after 1577.

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