Participation Type

Paper

About the Presenter

Beverly L. BraggFollow

Presentation #1 Abstract

I suggest there is a connection between Early Modern Theater and religious spaces as a result of the Protestant Reformation. A common setting for Early Modern Drama plays that addressed religious conflict was the monastery or convent. These buildings were a common sight in England in the early 16th century. However, as the Protestant Reformation began, Henry VIII and his primary advisor Thomas Cromwell began to dissolve England’s monasteries and by 1540, most of these religious structures were gone. During the 16th and 17th centuries, it was the secular space of the theater stage that allowed playwrights and actors to address religious concerns associated with the Reformation. Like the reformers who repurposed religious items and spaces for secular use, night after night the theater repurposed secular spaces into convents, brothels and romantic gardens as they performed plays that addressed religious matters, as well as secular matters. In the play The Jew of Malta (Christopher Marlowe), the convent is utilized to demonstrate the hybrid nature of space and identity in post-reformation England. This play addresses the use of the convent in nontraditional ways, and shows how religious spaces are compromised as a result. Furthermore, the hybrid nature of convent spaces calls into question the authenticity of Christian conversion within the text.

At-A-Glance Bios- Presenter #1

Beverly Bragg - I currently work as an independent researcher in Portland, Tennessee. Areas of historic interest / research include theater and religion in post-reformation England, post WWII educational spaces and family history.

Start Date

10-21-2017 10:15 AM

End Date

10-21-2017 12:15 PM

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Oct 21st, 10:15 AM Oct 21st, 12:15 PM

Convent Space and the Theater Stage in Early Modern Drama

I suggest there is a connection between Early Modern Theater and religious spaces as a result of the Protestant Reformation. A common setting for Early Modern Drama plays that addressed religious conflict was the monastery or convent. These buildings were a common sight in England in the early 16th century. However, as the Protestant Reformation began, Henry VIII and his primary advisor Thomas Cromwell began to dissolve England’s monasteries and by 1540, most of these religious structures were gone. During the 16th and 17th centuries, it was the secular space of the theater stage that allowed playwrights and actors to address religious concerns associated with the Reformation. Like the reformers who repurposed religious items and spaces for secular use, night after night the theater repurposed secular spaces into convents, brothels and romantic gardens as they performed plays that addressed religious matters, as well as secular matters. In the play The Jew of Malta (Christopher Marlowe), the convent is utilized to demonstrate the hybrid nature of space and identity in post-reformation England. This play addresses the use of the convent in nontraditional ways, and shows how religious spaces are compromised as a result. Furthermore, the hybrid nature of convent spaces calls into question the authenticity of Christian conversion within the text.