Offering evidence of women's extensive contributions to the theatrical landscape, this volume sharply challenges the assumption that the stage was 'all male' in early modern England.
The editors and contributors argue that the pervasiveness of female performance affected cultural production, even on the professional London stages that used men and boys for women's parts.
English spectators saw women players in professional and amateur contexts, in elite and popular settings, at home and abroad.
Women acted in scripted and improvised roles, performed in local festive drama, and took part in dancing, singing, and masquing.
English travelers saw professional actresses on the continent and Italian and French actresses visited England. Essays in this volume explore: the impact of women players outside London; the relationship between women's performance on the continent and in England; working women's participation in a performative culture of commerce; the importance of the visual record; the use of theatrical techniques by queens and aristocrats for political ends; and the role of female performance on the imitation of femininity. In short, Women Players in England 1500-1660 shows that women were dynamic cultural players in the early modern world.