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News Drama: the Tragic Subject of Charles I

  • Barbara Ravelhofer
Chapter
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Part of the Early Modern Literature in History book series (EMLH)

Abstract

The execution of Charles I solicited dramatic responses both in England and abroad. In the second half of the seventeenth century, Continental school plays rehearsed Charles’s fall as de casibus spectacle. English compositions on the subject of murdered majesty were not granted a legitimate forum on stage, given the closure of the theatres between 1642 and 1660, but they still appeared in print, as the anonymous The Famous Tragedie of King Charles I (1649) and The Tragical Actors, or The Martyrdom of the Late King Charles (1660) attest.1 The shift from dramaon-stage to drama-on-the-page in the literary landscape of the 1640s and 1650s has been explained as the result of the work of playwrights who, unemployed in those years, turned their talent to alternative modes of public expression.2 Many publications of the Interregnum period were advertised in dramatic terms even though they had little or no connection with theatrical performance. Between 1642 and 1660, at least 188 works bore the title ‘play’, ‘theatre’, ‘droll’, ‘(tragi)comedy’, or ‘masque’. ‘Tragedy’, a very popular choice, was often used in a metaphorical sense, but it also referred to various kinds of drama primarily enjoyed through reading.3 The Famous Tragedie of King Charles I and The Tragical Actors belong to this latter group. Both works have attracted various labels such as ‘dialogue playlet’,4 closet drama, pamphlet play, and indeed ‘pamphletheatre’, fresh from the ‘acting press’.5

Keywords

Title Page Oxford Dictionary Anonymous Author Stage Direction Historical Drama 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Barbara Ravelhofer 2008

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  • Barbara Ravelhofer

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