‘I will keep and character that name’: Dramatis Personae Lists in Early Modern Manuscript Plays
Keywords:play manuscripts, play printing, playbooks, dramatis personae, amateur playwrights
W.W. Greg’s claim that manuscript plays containing character lists were intended for publication (print or manuscript) and not playhouse use fails to account for all of the evidence in surviving manuscripts. Instead, as this essay demonstrates, a more significant variable in the inclusion of character lists in manuscript plays is the writer’s professional or amateur status. This article argues that amateur playwrights, influenced by their experiences as readers of printed plays, were more likely than professionals to include the 'readerly' device of a dramatis personae list in their manuscript plays, even in the case of playhouse manuscripts.
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