The Ignorant Elizabethan Author and Massinger's Believe As You List

David Bradley

Abstract


My purpose is to explore the evidence of the management of the acting cast offered by one of the surviving manuscript plays of the Caroline theatre and to defend its author against the charge of theatrical ineptitude. The manuscript is that of Massinger's Believe as You List (MS Egerton 2,828) 1 prepared for performance in 1631. It is in Massinger's hand, but has been heavily annotated by a reviser whom I propose to call by his old theatrical title of Plotter. I am aware that this is to beg a question at the outset, for we really do not know how many functionaries were involved in the preparation of a seventeenth-century play or on what order they worked upon the' dramatist's script.

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