Jacobean theatre refers to the sub-classification of English Renaissance theatre during the reign of King James I (1603-1625). It is a dark and disturbing literary form, spiritually gloomy, grotesquely violent and often shockingly obscene. History • This theatre style evolved from its preceding, more widely known predecessor called Elizabethan theatre. • Sexuality was very prevalent in Jacobean performances, along with a heightened sense of violence and general immoralities/perversities • As the economy declined, so did the delicacy of theatre – there was a “tendency to blame the audience for a decay of taste”. Brown, 194) • Performances moved from outdoor to indoor, because of the changeable weather• Boys’ theaters made a comeback • This is one of the roots of burlesque – back when burlesque still meant grotesque humour and not a classic type of strip teasing o Pipe-smoking, beer-drinking, entr’acte dancing, music, and tumbling accompanied the performances o The play was a prelude to further past time (kind of like a pre-drinking) Style • There are two main types of Jacobean theatre: o Revenge Plays o Tragicomedies Revenge Plays • Revenge plays were very obscene and violent • The main character was called the Revenger It is a hero avenging an unfair or cruel death – they are fueled by hatred and vindication Tragicomedies • Tragicomedies tend to fall under the grotesque side – it has dark humour and are very sexual in nature Important Plays and Playwrights• The two most produced Jacobean revenge plays are John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi and The White Devil • Other revenge plays include: o Ben Jonson – Every Man Has His Humour, & The Poetaster o Thomas Dekker – Lust’s Dominion, The Witch of Edmonton, ; The Virgin Martyr o William Shakespeare – Othello, Macbeth, King Lear (and many more) One of the most famous Jacobean tragicomedies is John Fletcher and Francis Beaumont’s Knight of the Burning Pestle o More collaborations between Fletcher and Beaumont include: ? Philaster; or, Love Lies A-Bleeding ? The Coxcomb ? The Maid’s Tragedy ? The Captain ? A King and No King • Other tragicomedies include: o Shakespeare’s Cymbeline and The Winter’s Tale o John Fletcher ; Philip Massinger – The Custom of the Country Vocabulary Burlesque – an artistic composition, esp. literary or dramatic, that, for the sake of laughter, vulgarizes lofty material or treats ordinary material with mock dignity.
Entr’acte dancing – dancing between intervals (perhaps during an intermission, etc. ) Revenge plays – a form of tragedy that revolves around the main character trying to exact revenge on someone Tragicomedy – tragedy and comedy; sort of like the satire of Jacobean theatre in which sexuality and violence are caricaturizedWokrks Cited “Jacobean Theatre. ” London, England: Edward Arnold, 1960. Print. Johnson , Christopher.
“The Duchess of Malfi. ” Jacobean Drama . Sydney Theatre Company , n. d. Web. 28 Sep 2010. .
Kay , Karen. “Study Tools. ” Elizabethan and Jacobean Revenge Tragedy. BritainInPrint, n. d. Web.
28 Sep 2010. .