Skip to main content

Ontologies of Play: Reconstructing the Relationship between Audience and Act in Early English Drama

Wright, Clare (2017) Ontologies of Play: Reconstructing the Relationship between Audience and Act in Early English Drama. Shakespeare Bulletin, 35 (2). pp. 187-206. ISSN 0748-2558. E-ISSN 1931-1427. (doi:10.1353/shb.2017.0013) (KAR id:55648)

PDF Author's Accepted Manuscript
Language: English
Download (226kB) Preview
XML Word Processing Document (DOCX) Pre-print
Language: English

Restricted to Repository staff only
Contact us about this Publication
Official URL


This article examines the ontological relationship between audience and play in early English drama, a relationship often figured in terms of the distinction between a ‘play world’ and the ‘real world.’ Exploring a proposed disjunction between this modern concept and earlier understandings of dramatic ontology, it tests current paradigms against evidence from medieval and early modern playtexts and records, in particular those pertaining to late-medieval and early-sixteenth-century biblical plays. The article argues that current paradigms are rooted in post-nineteenth century, ‘theatrical’ aesthetics, highlighting key contexts that point towards an alternative relationship, in which characters and events occupy the same spatio-temporal location as the audience. It closes by suggesting some potential implications of such a model for early drama research and performance practice.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1353/shb.2017.0013
Uncontrolled keywords: Medieval drama; early modern drama; theatre history; ontology; play
Subjects: P Language and Literature
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN441 Literary History
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1600 Drama
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The theatre
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions: Faculties > University wide - Teaching/Research Groups > Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies
Faculties > Humanities > School of English
Depositing User: Clare Wright
Date Deposited: 20 May 2016 15:49 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 17:24 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Wright, Clare:
  • Depositors only (login required):


Downloads per month over past year