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This is a history of reception of Thomas Middleton. Literary critics and theater directors in the US and the UK have responded to a growing interest in Middleton by publishing and producing more Middleton-related work in the past 50 years. However, there is as yet no comprehensive stage history of his plays that is informed by the recent scholarship. My project, using archival production records such as video, photography, design sketches, prompt books, playbills, and reviews, fills this significant gap in current Middleton scholarship. I argue that, during the five decades that comprise Middleton's modern revival, theater companies respond to Middleton's texts in ways that strongly correspond with both social and artistic movements of their cultural moment. In the sixties and seventies, productions of Middleton's plays focused strongly on the female sexuality displayed in The Changeling, The Revenger's Tragedy, and Women Beware Women. In the eighties, directors utilized productions of these plays and The Roaring Girl to subvert other structures of authority beyond gender, such as class and race. In the last twenty years, the interest in recreating early modern staging has resulted in several Middleton Original Practices productions; I examine several OP productions of A Mad World, My Masters, A Trick to Catch the Old One, The Honest Whore, and A Chaste Maid in Cheapside. Finally, more recently, directors and playwrights have used Middleton's plays as springboards for adaptations and original works of their own, resulting in a musical adaptation of The Roaring Girl and a jazz opera based on The Revenger's Tragedy.
History, Modern, Performance, Reception, Stage, Thomas Middleton
Date of Defense
March 28, 2014.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of English in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Celia R. Daileader, Professor Directing Dissertation; Mary Karen Dahl, University Representative; Gary Taylor, Committee Member; Bruce Boehrer, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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