The recently built Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, VA, has renewed interest among Shakespeareans and theater historians alike in the playhouse to which Shakespeare's company moved late in his career. Inside Shakespeare: Essays on the Blackfriars Stage represents the first scholarly collection to address questions peculiar to the Blackfriars and indoor playing: Did the Blackfriars have its own repertory? What was the place of the Blackfriars in the urban economy? What qualities did the Blackfriars share with the long tradition of great-hall performances? Featuring essays by Andrew Gurr, Tiffany Stern, Stephen Booth, Roslyn Knutson, A. R. Braunmuller, Michael Shapiro, Alan Somerset, Virginia Mason Vaughn and others, the essays span a range of approaches from performative to historical to textual. Some focus quite specifically on the Blackfriars, while others use the theater as a springboard to related concerns. Culled from the first two Blackfriars Conferences in 2001 and 2003, all the essays help resituate the place of the Shakespearean stage.
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Paul Menzer is associate professor of English and director of the Mary Baldwin College MLitt/MFA Shakespeare and Performance graduate program.