1. In terms of this research project, what have you been thinking about this week?
This week, we have been primarily discussing Marlowe as a voice of resistance to the theo-socio-political norms of the Elizabethan Era. Many of the sources I ran into in my article search pin him as deviant dramatist who has made his mark in history and possibly met his end due to rubbing most other people the wrong way. (There is still uncertainty and lots of speculation on the precise motivation for his murder.) We've adopted the term "rebel" as a way to describe him due to his outright religious opposition to Protestant England and his audacity to pen a play that staged the taboo conjuring of spirits, devils, and the gates of hell before live audiences.
2. If you have undertaken any research, what did you discover?
In reading through Richard Dutton's Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe: Censorship and Construction, I have fortunately come across a great deal of valuable information on the censorship of theatre in Elizabethan times and the role of the Master of Revels in the staging of dramatists' work. This provides important details in the backdrop of Marlowe's story. If Marlowe really was such an irreverent rebel, how on earth did he ever get any of his plays produced to be seen by the Queen? He would have had to go through the Master of Revels to have his work approved. While most histories paint this role as one of an oppressive nature, Dutton reveals Edmund Tilney, the Master of Revels of Marlowe's time, as an ally, a partner without whom The Tragicall Historie of Doctor Faustus would never have been staged. So with this facilitation to the stage through Edmund Tilney, how rebellious was Marlowe's taboo and deviant play after all?
3. How might you relate this research to your work in other classes or rehearsal?
These discoveries I've made in studying the historical context of Christopher Marlowe has led me to consider more in-depth the power of state-mandated censorship and the role of such a character as the Master of Revels in the production of theatre during any given era. We acknowledge quite often the playwrights of controversial plays as progressive, rebellious, and undoubtedly clever, yet little conscious credit is given to the editors of these plays who, despite a rigid mandate from the monarchy of what is permissible and impermissible, allow works that unsettle social norms to reach the stage where it is finally witnessed by the public eye...and in Marlowe's case, the Queen herself. As Dutton points out, the relationship between theatre-makers and the censor is "symbiotic." Neither can survive in the business without the other. Seeing this perspective on theatre censorship has caused me to ponder on my own creative process and the rules of the institution in which I practice. What is really off bounds in theatre today? Why? Is anything we do in this department truly "rebellious" if we have no censorship and is our generation of theatre-makers losing the art of clever circumvention of rules due to a lack of limitation?