About the Journal

Focus and Scope

Early Theatre publishes original, peer-reviewed research on medieval and early modern drama and theatre history. We began as the REED Newsletter, a publication associated with the Records of Early English Drama project, and we continue to welcome submissions that engage documentary evidence pertaining to actors, theatres, music, dance, and entertainment of all kinds. We also publish critical studies of plays and performances. In particular, the editors encourage original discussions of underexplored plays, authors, or types of performance; arguments that challenge conventional assumptions about periodization, performance, or reception; and studies that bring new theoretical, critical, or performance approaches to bear on early texts.

Journal content includes full-length articles, shorter notes, review essays, and book reviews. Each year we also feature a guest edited Issues in Review forum. Issues in Review presents a set of related short essays that together highlight new research directions in order to shape the field for further study. Examples of past Issues in Review topics include Islam and English drama (12.2); new approaches to long-neglected earlier Tudor plays (16.2); and disability in early modern theatre (22.2).

Early Theatre occasionally publishes special volumes with sustained attention to particular topics, for example, women’s performance in early modern England, Italy, France, and Spain (15.1) and recent work on John Marston’s The Dutch Courtesan (23.1).

Support for Our Authors

Early Theatre’s submission, peer review, and editorial processes work to support and improve the new work that authors send to the journal. Early Theatre welcomes articles, notes, and ‘Issues in Review’ proposals by advanced graduate students and early career researchers as well as from established scholars. 

There are no article processing or submission charges for Early Theatre authors.

In order to ensure that we are creating space to include a wide variety of voices, Early Theatre generally encourages contributors to wait 18-24 months after any prior publication with the journal before submitting new work for consideration. 

The editors strive to communicate transparently and quickly with authors to ensure that the peer review process is expedient and professional. Normally, the time between original submission and editorial decision is four months. Authors can expect that a submission accepted for publication will typically be published within one year of acceptance.

Early Theatre secures a global audience for our contributors’ high-quality, original research. We publicize journal content on major listservs and via social media. The work of our contributors is also indexed in major databases (including the MLA International Bibliography).

Authors receive a .pdf copy of their published content for self-archiving to a repository where it can be immediately accessed by readers around the world. Journal content is also readily accessible on the Early Theatre website and via major aggregators (including JStor, EBSCO, Project Muse, and ITER). Through our adoption of Crossref's DOI citation system and our inclusion of contributor ORCiDs, Early Theatre ensures persistent, reliable links that help direct greater online traffic to contributors’ research in the journal and beyond.

In recognition of the excellent research published by our authors, including early career scholars, we issue biennial prizes in several categories. Please visit our Essay Prizes page for details.

Peer Review Process 

Early Theatre invites the open submission of original research. In keeping with the journal’s commitment to a rigorous review process that seeks to mitigate the potential effects of unconscious bias, acceptance for publication is based on a standardized, independent, fully anonymous peer-review process (both contributors and readers are anonymous).

Because of the considerable unremunerated work required for the peer review process, Early Theatre will not consider material that has been previously published, nor will we consider any submission that is being submitted to another journal simultaneously. 

All original contributions are first reviewed by the editors, who within two weeks of submission consult to ensure that the work is relevant to the journal’s mandate and meets the standards generally expected of academic research. Should a submission not meet these criteria, the editors seek to provide constructive suggestions for how the work might be revised for submission elsewhere. In all other cases, the editors work collaboratively to identify and recruit two or more arms-length external reviewers, including reviewers with demonstrated expertise in the discipline and field relevant to the manuscript’s content and framework. These peer reviewers are asked to report on originality, thesis development, argumentation, notes and references, and readability, and to advise the editors on the submission's suitability for publication. 

Final publication decisions are made by the editors based on information gathered from the peer reviews. When peer reviewers are split in their recommendations, the editors consult to determine whether to send to a third external reviewer. When submissions are rejected after having gone through peer review, the editors work to provide constructive feedback designed to help authors revise their work in preparation for submission elsewhere.

Copyediting and Production Process

Accepted articles, notes, and essays undergo careful copy-editing and formatting overseen by the editors and production team. We work closely with authors on the typesetting and presentation of their work, and are happy to consult regarding supplementary materials such as images, transcripts, charts, or multimedia files. We welcome queries about possible publication of transcripts, facsimiles, or mini-editions of unusual documents that would otherwise be inaccessible to our readers.


Authors retain copyright for their published research. We require all published authors to grant a limited exclusive license for publication to the journal, according to which authors agree not to publish their submissions elsewhere in the same form, in any language, without the consent of the journal for a period of one year, and without acknowledgment of its initial publication in the journal thereafter. We appreciate when Early Theatre receives acknowledgement as the original publication venue for work that is subsequently revised or republished.

Early Theatre's Open Access Policy

Early Theatre’s green open access distribution policy aligns with the UK Research Excellence Framework recommendations and Canadian TriCouncil requirements for open access. For more information, please click here.


The contents of Early Theatre are preserved through CLOCKSS (Controlled LOCKSS), a collaborative project of leading academic publishers and research libraries that provides a sustainable dark archive to ensure the long-term survival of web-based scholarly content.

Journal History

Early Theatre: A Journal Associated with the Records of Early English Drama (founded in 1998 by Helen Ostovich, McMaster University) evolved out of a newsletter at the Records of Early English Drama (REED) called the REED Newsletter. Issued biannually from 1976 to 1997, the REED Newsletter published documentary evidence of early drama, items on records research, and requests by scholars for information. It also listed calls for papers, conferences, and notices of recent publications. Please consult this table of contents for REED Newsletter back issues and volumes. 

The change to Early Theatre in 1998 reflected the growing stature of the earlier publication and the need for a scholarly journal in this field which would have a longer and more independent life than a newsletter attached to REED. Early Theatre began as an annual, with 6-8 peer-reviewed articles per year. Soon thereafter, we moved to bi-annual publication, with one issue in June and one in December (averaging 17 peer-reviewed articles and notes each year). 

Support for the Journal

Early Theatre is a member of the Canadian Association of Learned Journals (CALJ) and the Council of Editors of Learned Journals (CELJ) .

We gratefully acknowledge financial assistance provided by the dean of Human­ities and the department of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University, as well as the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.