‘Now mark that fellow; he speaks Extempore’: Scripted Improvisation in <em>The Antipodes</em>
Improvisation played a significant role in both early English theatrical performance and early English dramatic texts. Renaissance playwrights such as Marston and Jonson create fictions of spontaneous speech in their scripted drama, writing a kind of scripted improvisation. Richard Brome references both his background as a student of Jonson and contemporary performance repertory in his own scripted improvisation in The Antipodes. Designed to perform in repertory with Francis Beaumont’s The Knight of the Burning Pestle, The Antipodes reveals Brome referencing and playing off of the strengths of the other play, while at the same time highlighting his own outstripping of Beaumont’s work. The investigation of improvisation in The Antipodes and the play’s continued pointing to the subject of improvisation serve to underscore Brome’s careful crafting of the sounds and rhythms of spontaneous speech.
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