Location of Repository

Marlowe on the English stage: 1588-1988 : a stage history of three Marlowe plays Dr. Faustus, Edward II, and the Jew of Malta.

By Rima Hakim


This study attempts to follow the stage history of three of Marlowe's plays, Dr. Faustus, Edward II, and The Jew of Malta, from Marlowe's own time to our own time. It also attempts to discuss changes in critical attitudes to these plays in particular, and to Marlowe in general, and to relate these to the plays' theatrical fortunes.\ud \ud Each of the first and last three chapters is devoted to one play. The first three deal with the early stage history of the three plays under discussion. Chapter One discusses that of Dr. Faustus, Chapter Two discusses that of The Jew of Malta, and Chapter Three, that of Edward H. On the basis of what is known with reasonable certainty, and of what can be deduced from a general knowledge of the Elizabethan theatre, the first three chapters explore dates, places and circumstances of the performances of these plays. They also attempt to reconstruct the stage action of major scenes in the plays and to investigate what theatrical techniques were available or were made exclusively available for staging these scenes. In the light of the social, political,\ud and cultural climate of the sixteenth and seventeenth century, there is also an attempt to study what the thematic issues in each play represented for Elizabethan audiences, and this is juxtaposed in the three last chapters with what they now represent for modern audiences. This juxtaposition hopefully illuminates our understanding of the plays in their own time and shows how some aspects of these plays which do not appeal to modern audiences and directors were, in fact, of great significance to their\ud first audiences.\ud \ud Chapters Six, Seven and Eight deal with the twentieth-century stage history of the plays in the same order as that of the three early chapters. The large number of\ud performances in the twentieth century made the approach to these chapters inevitably selective. Therefore, in each chapter a certain number of performances have been chosen for detailed analysis, some of which have been seen; other performances have been discussed more briefly and only with a view to their effect in the stage history of the plays. For the productions discussed in detail, promptbooks and reviews have been examined, and, where possible, directors have been interviewed.\ud \ud Together, the early and the modern period seem to exhibit two peaks of Marlowe's popularity on the stage. These are bridged by Chapters Four and Five, where the lack of Marlowe performances formed a kind of valley between two\ud mountains. Thus these two middle chapters, as it were, provide the stepping stones between the first and the last three chapters. Chapter Four deals with the period between 1642 and 1800, reviewing the prevailing critical attitudes to Marlowe, and their relation to his absence from the stage. Chapter Five opens with a study of Edmund Kean's revival of The Jew of Malta in 1818 and of how the play was adapted to the social and theatrical climate of the time. The Chapter also reviews the critical attitudes to Marlowe's plays in the nineteenth century, as seen in editions of, and essays on, the plays; and it ends with a study of William Poel's revivals of two of the plays under discussion, Dr. Faustus and Edward II, in 1896 and in 1903, respectively.\ud \ud All the eight chapters attempt to discuss the stage history of the plays in the light of the theatrical conditions of the times, and the ways in which these influenced the staging and interpretation of the text. There is no claim that it is possible to reconstruct the effect of a certain performance or how words were spoken, but, where promptbooks are available, there is a fair degree of certainty concerning what was spoken in the production. Thus, a study of cuts and additions made by actor-managers\ud and directors proved necessary. In cases where further extracts from the promptbooks may be helpful to the reader, such extracts have been provided in appendices. There are also lists of dates and places of modern professional and amateur productions of these plays, which are useful though by no means exhaustive. Illustrations have also been provided, to illuminate points made in the discussion of particular productions.\ud \ud The conclusion sums up the reasons why Marlowe's plays were popular only at certain times and in certain climates, discusses how certain difficulties experienced in staging them are still seen as major obstacles in productions. It finally focuses on Marlowe's position in the theatre of today

Publisher: School of English (Leeds)
Year: 1990
OAI identifier: oai:etheses.whiterose.ac.uk:255

Suggested articles



  1. 1896, reprinted in Marlowe: The Critical Heritage 1588-1896, edited by Millar MacLure doi
  2. (1966). 87-105 -"Marlowe as Provocative Agent in Shakespeare's Early Plays",
  3. (1963). Antithetical Balance in the Opening and Closing of Doctor Faustus", doi
  4. at the Aldwych, London (the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in 1975), Shakespeare Memorial Library, Shakespeare Centre, Stratford-upon-Avon The promptbook and programme of Mark Brickman's adaptation and production of Dr.
  5. (1946). Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine,
  6. (1988). edited by Kenneth Friedenreich, doi
  7. (1912). Englishmen for My Money (1616), Malone Society Reprints (Oxford,
  8. (1987). Faustus for the Actors Touring Company,
  9. (1973). Faustus, or The Necromancer (London, 1723) 302 Rowland, Samuel, The Knave of the Clubbes (1609), in The Complete Works of Samuel Rowlands: 1598-1628, printed by the Hunterian Club, 3 vols. (New York and London,
  10. (1969). Faustus: A Collage Version of Shakespeare's Play and A Free Adaptation of Marlowe's Play (Harmondsworth,
  11. (1953). Heroical Epistles (1597), The Poems of Michael Drayton, edited by John Buxton, 2 vols.
  12. (1971). History in Marlowe's Jew of Malta", doi
  13. (1970). Machiavelli and Marlowe's the Jew of Malta",
  14. (1937). Mad Mullinix and Timothy" (1728), The Poems of Jonathan Swift, edited by Harold Williams, 3 vols.
  15. Money is an Asse (London,
  16. (1964). Nottingham Evening Post,
  17. (1986). Poet for the Stage, edited by Anne Lancashire (New York, doi
  18. (1975). Richard Southern, Frederick and Lise-Lone Marker and Robertson Davies (London, doi
  19. (1986). South London Press,
  20. (1962). The Arden Shakespeare (London,
  21. (1953). The Barons' Wars, in The Poems of Michael Drayton, edited by
  22. (1910). The Best Plays of the Old Dramatists, Mermaid Series (London, 1887; rep ' ted London and New York, 1893) The Works of Christopher Marlowe, edited by
  23. (1969). The Complete Plays, edited by
  24. (1964). The Damnation of Faustus", doi
  25. (1975). The Devil's Charter (1607), edited by Sybil Rosenfeld, Old English Drama, Fascimile Student Editions
  26. (1959). The Discovery-space in Shakespeare's Globe", doi
  27. (1943). The Early Date for Marlowe's Faustus",
  28. (1952). The Honour of the Garter, in The Life and Minor Works of George Peele, edited by David H. Home (New Haven,
  29. (1981). The Privileged Playgoers of Shakespeare's London: doi
  30. (1964). The promptbook, programme, and photographs of Clifford Williams's production of The Jew of
  31. (1968). The Theology of Marlowe's Doctor Faustus", Renaissance Drama,

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.