'What makes thou upon a stage?': Child Actors, Royalist Publicity, and the Space of the Nation in the Queen's Men's True Tragedy of Richard the Third

  • Jennifer Roberts-Smith University of Waterloo
Keywords: child actors, boy actors, Queen's Men, True Tragedy of Richard the Third, theatrical space, touring theatre, public, direct address, dramaturgy,


The Queen’s Men use the bodies of actors as the principal spatial medium of their plays; in the True Tragedy of Richard the Third, for example, the bodies of child actors playing representatives of the monarchy are the focus of their audience’s affective responses to the play. Consequently, the meaning of any individual performance of the play was not determined by the specifics of individual venues nor by the geographical allegiances of individual communities along the company’s touring routes. Instead, The True Tragedy created a stable, new, affective space for royalist publicity that transcended local politics and dissent. Rather than the proto-democratic space for voluntary engagement in public discourse that recent critics have seen in the Queen’s Men’s dramaturgy, this play created a conceptual space that more closely resembled a royal nation.

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