Early English Modern Drama: Authorship and Collaboration



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Masaryk University

Faculty of Arts
Department of English
and American Studies

English Language and Literature

Klára Černíková



Early English Modern Drama: Authorship and Collaboration

Bachelor’s Diploma Thesis

Supervisor: Mgr. Pavel Drábek, Ph.D.
2010


I declare that I have worked on this thesis independently,
using only the primary and secondary sources listed in the bibliography.

……………………………………………..

Author’s signature

Acknowledgement:

I would like to thank my supervisor, Mgr. Pavel Drábek, Ph.D.,

for his patience, kind help, valuable advice and guidance of my work.



Table of Contents:

  1. Introduction ………………………………………………….………………… 5

  2. Collaboration………………………………………………….…………………6

    1. What is Collaboration……………..………………….………………… 6

    2. Why do People Collaborate ……………………………………….…… 9

  3. Elizabethan Drama………………………………………………...………….. 12

    1. Introduction ………………………………………….…………………12

    2. Position of an Author in the Elizabethan Era………………………….. 14

    3. Collaboration between theatres and playwrights ………………………18

    4. Staging during English Renaissance ………………………………….. 20

    5. Dramatic Licensing ………………………………………………….. . 22

    6. Collaboration in Early English Modern Drama ………………………..26

    7. Major Elizabethan Authors – in the Aspect of Collaboration …………28

    8. Selected plays written in collaboration……………………………….. 33

3.8.1. Thomas Middleton and William Rowley’s The Changeling …. 33

3.8.2. William Shakespeare and John Fletcher’s The Two Noble



Kinsmen …………………………………...………………….. 37

    1. Similarities and Differences in Early English Modern Drama and TV

Series Nowadays ……………………………………………………… 41

  1. Conclusion …………...……………………………………………………….. 44

  2. English résumé …………………………..…………………………………… 45

  3. Czech résumé …………………………..…………………………………….. 46

  4. Works cited …………………………………………………………………… 47



1. Introduction

Collaboration is a widely spread phenomenon in virtually every field. People collaborate in privacy, in their personal lives, as well as at their professional one. However, since in privacy collaboration is understood rather as a basic necessity, in the working environment (and in the arts and literature in particular) it is still believed to be rather an exception. However, nothing is further from the truth. People collaborate in many different fields.

In my thesis I will analyze in what circumstances people collaborate, in the field of creative work. I will focus on playwriting in the English Renaissance era and I use scriptwriting as a present day model of similar collaboration. During the English Renaissance collaboration among writers became widely spread, therefore I am going to analyze the reasons why this happened and why it happened at that particular period. To be able to understand that, the picture of the era must be drawn. Since complete analysis of English Renaissance is literally impossible, I am going to focus only on issues essential for understanding of given topic in my thesis. Therefore the position of the Elizabethan1 dramatist and his connection to a theatre company and other playwrights, staging, and dramatic licensing will be analyzed.

Since the function of Elizabethan drama is in some aspects very similar to the function of television nowadays I compare these two phenomenons. But as telecasting is a very broad term only TV series scriptwriting is measured up to early English modern drama in the thesis. The aim of the brief comparison of Elizabethan and Jacobean playwriting and scriptwriting nowadays is to get through a present day reader/spectator.


2. Collaboration

2.1. What is collaboration? (The nature of collaboration. Indirect and direct collaboration)

According to Oxford English Dictionary the verb collaborate means “To work in conjunction with another or others, to co-operate; esp. in a literary or artistic production, or the like” (OED). But what exactly does this definition signify?

There are several different kinds of collaboration; or alternatively different interpretations of the term ‘collaboration’. Even though there are various interpretations of the term ‘collaboration’ I use only two terms in the thesis: direct and indirect collaboration. In this respect, the word ‘collaboration’ can either mean re-writing some other plays, what I call ‘indirect collaboration’, or it can mean revising other authors’ work, or collaboration as a multiple-authorship, i.e. straight cooperation between two (or more) people in order to create something (in our case a piece of writing, especially a play or a script) written by more than one person (dramatist/scriptwriter). The latter two collaborative techniques naturally include some exchange of ideas between the authors, which can be done either personally or through correspondence. Though the former one is more efficient and natural and consequently more common.

However, we can go even further in the searching of what does the word collaboration imply. As the author of the Collaboration essay points out “collaboration […] does not begin in the professional environment” but starts much earlier. The author claims that “collaboration is often associated with various imitation techniques” which he/she demonstrates on education environment where students imitate “professors, text books, or even other students”. The author also argues that these kinds of imitation should not be understood as a form of plagiarism since collaborative techniques, especially imitative ideas, are introduced to children at a very young age. Actually, the basic skills as speech or walking are learnt through imitation. During our growing-up process we imitate our contemporaries to improve our social skills and we also sort of imitate our teachers (for example just by writing down every single word he or she says) in order to be able to fully understand the meaning of a lecture, thus, to extend our knowledge.

The same is true for copying from a source text and just rewriting it in one’s own words, a technique which Rebecca Howard2 calls “patchwriting”. This form of plagiarism is certainly also a sort of technique used to extend a student’s knowledge since mere reading and rewriting a scientific essay help the student to be able to produce a scientific piece of writing on his or her own later on. Nevertheless, it is highly probable that the writing technique of the ´copied´ author will be implemented into the student’s way of expressing him/herself and he or she will use it in his or her own work subconsciously. As Martha Woodman says, one must naturally start from an imitative perspective in writing to “earn his flying wings” before venturing out into more individualistic compositions.

At a later stage of our lives, when we are absolutely able to create a piece of writing on our own, we still naturally use imitation techniques either subconsciously or fully consciously especially when we directly cooperate with another person.

This is particularly true for writing drama for staging or script for a TV series. This kind of writing, which is intended to be shown (staged or screened), needs to be solid in form, so the viewer would not be confused. The authors have to be synchronized somehow and also able to acquire (in some measure) his/her co-writer’s thinking and style. As a consequence, a situation where the authorship of a given idea is not quintessentially clear may occur. For example, when Christopher Marlowe and Thomas Kyd lived together literally under one roof, Kyd claimed that their papers ´shuffled´ somehow.

That indicates that even the author himself, when cooperating with another one, may not be able to determine which ideas belong to him and which are the outcomes of his fellow-writer.



2.2. Why do people cooperate?

It is true that people cooperate in many different ways on many different levels. It can be said that collaboration is a usual phenomenon in many different areas. It is as true for science or politics as for art. But the question is why a human being, who is believed to be naturally rather selfish and egocentric, starts to cooperate with another person. What is the cause, the starter which brings people together and makes them work collectively and create something? Under what circumstances and conditions does a collaboration emerge?

The answer to this question is not as simple as it may seem. One must consider extrinsic factors as well as the intrinsic, psychological ones.

In science, for example, collaboration “is considered to be [a] norm”3, in view of the fact that scientists base their new claims on works of other, earlier scientists. And furthermore, the straight collaboration in this field is necessary because there are many tasks involved in scientific research, such as research and development, experiments and writing, which is far beyond one’s limits, thus only more than one can manage on his or her own. Under these circumstances, it is impossible to assign authorship, since it is basically team work.

The situation in politics is very similar, a politician comes with a proposal, but it is usually reworked for many times before the final bill is approved. Therefore, we can talk about collaborative work again.

In this point of view, most areas of public and private (for example marriage) life is necessarily based on collaboration.

As far as art, in our case writing, is concerned, the situation is a little bit more problematic. Although it is generally believed that no author likes to be corrected, instructed or advised since he or she takes writing as a personal matter, in other words the creative work is usually an intimate issue for most authors. In this point of view, an author is basically seen a neurotic, who “does not allow anyone to enter his/her ‘creative kitchen’ or as a masochist who wants to lick his/her wounds in private”4 . In my opinion this can be true for some authors but it may be not for all, therefore it should not be so strictly generalized.

The fact is that collaboration (especially the one of a pair of authors) is not as rare phenomenon as it may seem. The reasons for collaboration may vary as well as its nature. One of the most obvious reason is probably a lack of time.

This may be traced in English Renaissance playwriting, when the demand for new plays was enormous. The reason why collaborative authorship was so common those days comes from the pure fact derived from the needs and demands of the given dramatic period. There were more than fifteen acting companies in London at that time. Each of these companies performed numerous new plays per month. Therefore the playwrights had to cooperate in order to be able to fulfil the theatres’ demands.

Another reason for cooperation in writing (play and scriptwriting especially) is a lack of particular skills needed. When one writer has outstanding descriptive skills but lacks dialogue-constructing skills, he or she will highly probably never gain a real success. But if this writer collaborates with another author who possesses excellent dialogue-constructing talent they have the prospect to create a piece of writing of a great value.

We may conclude that the main reason why people, originally egocentric, who “tend to look after themselves at their own first” do cooperate resides in the fact that cooperation helps us to get further and higher and, therefore, fulfil our selfish needs since collaboration is the normal ‘social act’ in the process of creation.(Axelrod, 3).


3. Elizabethan Drama

3.1. Introduction

English Renaissance Drama is a dramatic period which includes plays written and staged between the Reformation and the closure of theatres in 1642.

In the15th, 16th and early 17th century, in the theatrical period known as Early Modern English Drama, the situation as well as position and function of the dramatist was completely different from the one known and practised nowadays.

Authors were often anonymous and even if their names were acknowledged, they did not gain high social status by writing. This might seem awkward when we compare the attitude of Elizabethan era with the present days’ one. Since the present-day cult of an author which includes collecting the autographs of one’s favourite writers and buying (surely eagerly awaited) any new piece of writing by that given author, it may seem that the figure of an author is at present sometimes more important than the “product” he or she creates unlike during the English Renaissance.

Apart from the differences between the position of a dramatist in the society in the Elizabethan era and nowadays, other issues connected with the playwriting were different from present days’ practice as well. Theatregoing and staging was far from an enchanting experience, since theatres were built outside the city walls (as well as all unpleasant businesses) so a theatregoer had to experience distasteful smells on his/her way to the playhouse. Staging was far from astonishing. There were no curtains and almost any scenery; everything had to be explained by some clues within a play. The audience could buy fruit which was used as missiles in the moments of disappointment. And the biggest difference in Elizabethan theatres from the present days one is that theatres were usually multi-purpose facilities, which were used not only for play-staging but also for animal fights and other entertainments.

The theatre practice as well as playwriting was limited in many ways, there were many laws, rules and restrictions the acting groups and playwrights had to obey. The punishments were very severe.

So on one hand the playwrights were limited in the contents of their plays by many rules and restrictions and on the other hand they were urged to be as productive as possible, since the demand for new material was enormous.

3.2. Position of an Author in the Elizabethan Era

During the sixteenth century a lot of basic issues changed considerably. The Renaissance brought development of typography, new organization of trade and business (which required reading, writing and arithmetic; and therefore contributed to the spread of knowledge among the general public) and higher education of urban population. All these features contributed to spread of literature and later even dramatic plays published and hence read.

Authors of literary works were often anonymous or ‛accidental’, i.e. motivated by “a caprice, sudden inspiration or mission, usually other motives than financial or purely material” (Lukeš 9).5 On the basis of this statement it is clear that the authors were not regarded as professionals and writing was not considered to be an occupation as such. On the contrary, an author of a literary work often had a civil occupation and writing was more a hobby-like activity to him, therefore he rarely got paid for it. And if he did, the payment was considered “a gift and evaluation, which did not state the market value” of the piece of writing (Lukeš 9).6 The person who paid the author was called a patron; he was usually a rich aristocrat to whom the author dedicated his pieces of writing. It was common, that an author had more patrons during his life (not at the same time, of course). For example Robert Greene wrote seventeen books in his lifetime and they were dedicated to sixteen different patrons. On Greene’s extreme example we can see, how difficult it was to find an aristocrat under whose patronage an author could write for whole his lifetime (or rather career). It was difficult to find such a patron but it was not completely impossible. For example William Shakespeare dedicated his work to a single patron, Henry Wriothesley, the 3rd Duke of Southhampton. But the payment was not the only reason why the authors needed a patron. Even though, Nicholas Rowe stated in his Life of Shakespeare that Southampton on one occasion gave Shakespeare a present of £1000 to complete a purchase (Rowe). However, there is no documentary evidence of this and it seems rather improbable. Nevertheless, the authors needed patrons rather for protection. According to the 1572 Vagrancy Act those acting groups that did not possess sponsorship from a nobleman could be classified as vagabonds and subjected to a range of penalties which included branding, whipping, enslavement (after re-establishing slavery in 1598) and even the death sentence (repealed in 1593). And hence the acting groups, actors and authors attached to these groups had to be connected with aristocratic patrons. In return for his protection the aristocrat’s name was carried across the country as the acting group travelled, which brought some prestige and publicity. Actually, this protection was the main reason for an author to have a patron, since the payment was rather symbolic, so no one could survive just with it. As a consequence, the authors had to search for other sources of income. One of those sources was the civil occupation I mentioned earlier, another was the theatre.

With the emergence of commercial theatre a new potential market for playwrights opened. Since theatres represented a better source of income than for example publishers or patrons, playwrights started to collaborate with theatres. Some playwrights worked rather freelance (i.e. their income was not stable, they were paid for single original plays or some adaptations) or had short-time agreements with theatres, others worked for one particular theatre whole lives. The former is true for playwrights like Richard Brome7, who had some experience as a professional actor. He was a member of the Queen of Bohemia’s Men, for whom he wrote. Brome also wrote for Prince Charles’s Men (a play called A Fault in Friendship, written in collaboration, now lost), for King’s Men (A Lovesick Maid; lost as well) and other acting companies. The same is true for Robert Daborne, who first wrote for Queen’s Revels Children and Lady Elizabeth’s Men but later (probably since 1613) worked almost exclusively for Philip Henslowe; Daborne is believed to write at least five plays for Henslowe in this era, either alone or with collaborators including John Fletcher, Nathan Field, and Philip Massinger. The later attitude includes playwrights like Thomas Dekker, George Chapman, William Haughton, and Anthony Munday who wrote for Philip Henslowe basically whole their lives.

According to Henslowe’s records playwrights were usually paid during the writing process. The schedule was as follows:

The playwright wrote a simple plot (about a page long) for which he was paid (Henslowe paid about 10-20s) and then, when he wrote the play itself, he got the rest of the payment (£5-6) and if it was accepted (they received the proceeds from one day’s performance). But the play was a property of the company to which it was sold and the author had no longer any control over it. Nevertheless, it was absolutely sufficient to write about two plays a year to earn enough money for living. But since most plays were written in collaboration (Bryson claims these collaborations involved as many as half a dozen authors), the collaborators had to share the profit. Besides, there also were “royalties or other further payments beyond” (Bryson, 78). In this respect, it is obvious that many authors who worked in collaborations had financial problems. For example, Ben Jonson who wrote more than fifty plays and many non-dramatic works and passed most of his career in triumph died in poverty. So did Robert Greene (but here it needs to be stated he was an extreme spendthrift). Or Thomas Dekker, who spent most of his working age in prison for debts.

Since a play belonged to the theatre company, playwrights were not paid for potential printouts. I say potential because it was not very common for Elizabethan plays to be printed. There were approximately 2,800 plays written but only 650 of them were printed.

This low number can be explained by different factors. First, even though the typography was spread and people read more (since literacy was also widely spread), plays were not considered to be one of the high-literature pieces of writing ‛suitable’ for print, the primal purpose of drama to be staged and later, when theatres became very popular people occasionally started to read dramas well; nevertheless, plays were not originally seen as a dignified piece of writing. Second, since a play was a property of a company that staged it for many times, it was valuable goods, hence the company did not want to give it out. If they did it was long after the play’s premiere, so the text was usually changed – there were some omissions, additions and other changes made during rehearsals, “sometimes the printed play may even contain two different endings” 8(Hodek 425).

The contents of a printed play and the title page in particular shows a lot about the position of a play and a playwright in the Elizabethan era. At the beginning, there was a name of a play, who and where staged it but the name of the author was either shortened or completely left out. Later on, when plays by an author gained some success, the author’s name emerged on the cover page as well9 (sometimes even on the very first place) in order to increase the sale. But still, even if the name of an author helped to sale the print-outs, the author was not usually paid for it (and if, the payment was very low) and what is more, the plays were often published without knowing of the author. Philip Henslowe, a theatre manager, the owner of the Rose and the Fortune theatres, had a group of playwrights – Chettle, Drayton, Munday and Dekker to be specific and later Shakespeare, Fletcher, Massinger and Shirley – who wrote plays for his theatres. In order to produce plays faster these playwrights (as well as many others) had to cooperate to be able to fulfil the demanding requirements.

3.3. Collaboration between theatres and playwrights

Drama is very specific in the way of collaboration. In this literary genre, not only authors collaborate together, but they collaborate with the theatre (or another place where the play is staged) ergo with the theatre management, the theatre staff and the audience.

In the Elizabethan era this collaboration was very close. We assume that the professional playwrights (i.e. those who earned their living, or at least partly earned their living, by playwriting) contracted with the theatre (i.e. theatre owner or manager) either a written or verbal agreement. The playwrights usually wrote two or three plays a year (even though some wrote two or three times more), either on their own or in collaboration with others. They usually had rather short-time agreements for two or three years, but some playwrights wrote all their plays, or at least most of them, for a single company, hence we could say they had a sort of long-time or even life-time contracts. For example Henry Porter wrote for Philip Henslowe all his plays since April 28, 1599 as is recorded in the Henslowe’s Diary: “He [i.e. Porter] gave me his faithful promise that I will have all the books which he writes either himself or with others”10 which also naturally included additions and revisions other authors´ works since it was common in the Elizabethan era.

3.4. Staging during the English Renaissance

During the Elizabethan era there were many restrictions limiting staging. Before theatres as such were built, acting companies performed their plays wherever they could. Plays were staged in pubs, inn yards or other large spaces usually used for other purposes.

When theatres were started to being built, they were not allowed within city areas; hence they were built outside London walls similarly to brothels, lunatic asylums and prisons. Besides, as Bill Bryson points out “no one reached a playhouse without encountering a good deal of odour” since “noisome enterprises like soapmaking, dyeing and tanning” were also built outside city boarders (Bryson, 70). In this respect, the audience’s way to a playhouse can be hardly described as pleasant. Nevertheless, the audience always found its way to a theatre to see either a play or any other form of entertainment available at Elizabethan time. As playhouse during this era did not performed only dramatic plays, they also accomplished other entertainments, particularly animal fighting (usually bears, dogs and cocks) to attract the audience and hence earn money to prosper. So it was common that “an audience that could be moved to tears one day by a performance of Doctor Faustus could return the next to the same space and be just entertained by the frantic death of helpless animals” (Bryson 71). This extreme variability of entertainment only proves that the audience acknowledged with thanks all forms of amusement that the public life could offer.

Theatres were usually round shaped (apart from a very few exceptions), rather arena like. The theatres were only partially roofed. There were two kinds of theatres: public ones (at a capacity of approximately two thousand spectators) and private, aristocratic ones. Probably the most famous one, the Globe, which replica stands on the river bank (where the original Globe stood), was built in 1589-9. The first plays staged in the Globe were two Shakespeare’s plays: a history play Henry V. and a comedy As you like it.11 The theatre had three galleries, the pit, the stage and special loge for the Queen. The aristocrats used to sit either on the edge of the stage or on the galleries, where also rich townspeople sat. The poor stood in the pit. Queen Elizabeth is believed to attend the plays on regular basis. This is probably the reason why the Globe was not closed despite the severe pressure of the city hall. The Globe burnt down in 1613, but was quickly rebuilt and continued staging till 1642 when all the theatres were closed by puritans.

Plays were performed early in the afternoon (at about two o’clock) by daylight, because there was no lightning in the theatres, only torches which might cause a fire (and they actually did). As far as advertisement is concerned, there was a banner at the highest spot of the theatre, trumpets were blown and handbills were distributed in the city streets. The entrance fees were as follows: a penny for those who stood in front of the stage, two pennies for those who wanted to sit and “those who desired a cushion paid another penny on top of that” (Bryson, 73). The audience could also buy some fruit (usually used “as missiles during moments of disappointment”) or some refreshment including beer and tobacco (Bryson, 74). Nevertheless there were no toilets. As for stage setting, there were no curtains and almost any scenery; everything had to be explained by some clues within a play. The wardrobe was often bought or donated from higher class society members. Hence it could happen that a boy who played a queen wore a dress similar to a dress worn by a lady among the spectators. At the end of a play there was usually an addition in a form of a jig.

3.5. Dramatic Licensing

Since drama does not provide only entertainment but also serves as a “self-display and self-definition” of the community, and as such ‘holds mirror’ to the society and reflects the overall situation in a given country, some issues simply were not accepted by higher authorities (Dutton, 289). But it needs to be stated that this external intervention mostly took place only if theatricals gave rise to riots.

The dramatic production of Elizabethan era was strictly restricted. The playwrights had to obey many issued acts and orders as well as Aldermen. They often had to face problems connected with their work. One example for all is the one of John Stubbs, who expressed in his pamphlet entitled The Discoverie of a Gaping Gulf whereinto England is like to be Swallowed by another French Marriage “a displeasure generally felt over an intended marriage of Elisabeth I.; a publisher William Page issued this book and as a result both writer’s and publisher’s12 right hands were chopped off on September 27, 1579” (Bejblík et al. 183)13. In the pamphlet, Stubbs argued that English values, customs, language and morality would be undermined by so close relationship with the French monarchy. Stubbs was a committed Puritan, and he claimed that by issuing the pamphlet he intended to protect the freedom of thought and free speech that he said was associated with Protestantism. After his hand was chopped off, he removed his hat with his left hand, and cried out “God Save the Queen!” and fainted. He was imprisoned as well but he still remained loyal to the Queen.

Also laws restricted the playwriting, for example the law issued by Henry VIII. in 1543, which says that only the monarch’s interpretation of the Bible is obligatory, hence the censorship of the plays with religious themes (which meant almost all plays) started and, consequently, the mystery plays vanished completely. All the dramatic text had to be authorized by the Master of Revels who later (since 1607) also censored everything meant to be published.

Therefore, the Elizabethan authors were on one hand limited in the contents of their plays by many rules and restrictions and on the other hand they were urged to be as productive as possible. Especially Henslowe is said to be ´devastating´ the individual talents of playwrights by “making them to produce texts as fast as possible, i.e. in collaboration”. Authors were often anonymous and even if their names were stated they did not gain any special social status (at least not immediately).

However, high authorities generally liked “to have players around to entertain them” and since they wanted to be entertained, not lectured or criticised, they took it displeasing when actors criticised politics or expressed unusual opinions (Brown 166). As a consequence plays with political or religious contents were closely supervised and when they were found inappropriate, they might have been forbidden.

As I have already stated, drama had to face a large number of attacks during the English Renaissance period. These assaults included moral critics as well as the political ones. As far as moral criticism is concerned, it was primarily based on the thought that the playhouses were often visited by vagabonds, rogues and other individuals at the edge of a society; and that the theatregoing distracted people from their work and from church-going. It was also seen as a waste of time and money.

The theatres’ major opponents (simplifiedly) were Puritan extremists or so called City fathers14. Puritans of the 16th and 17th -century England were associated to religious groups advocating more ‘purity’of worship and doctrine, as well as personal and group piety. Puritans claimed that theatres are “Venus’ Palace and Satan’s synagogue to worship devil and betray Jesus Christ [...and] plays are the fruit of vintage and drunkenness using boy actors to play all women’s roles....despising God” (Evans 4). City fathers’ main argument was that playhouses (i.e. term used for theatres at that time) were “breeding grounds of civil riots and disease” (Evans 3). These “anti-theatre groups” tended to do all their best to get the theatres closed. E.g. Lord Mayor and the Aldermen wrote angry letters to the Privy Council fairly often, asking the Council to get the theatres closed. Their main arguments were: the plays staged at the theatres contain “nothing but unchaste matters, lascivious devices and other ungodly practises”; vagrants tend to linger in theatres, theatregoing detract people from their works and, finally, theatres, since many people are concentrated in one place, help to spread disease (usually plague).

Elizabethan drama was under supervision in order to prevent staging of controversial (political and religion) issues. In order to prevent ambiguity, I would like to clarify at this point the nature of censorship in the Elizabethan period. There was no necessity for a centralized theatrical control because the “regulation on local level was more than sufficient (Dutton 289). The local authority included mayors, groups of aristocrats or clergymen and others who denied or allowed performances and the circumstances under which these plays could be performed. Nevertheless, the censorship existed and there were certain “conventions that both sides accepted as to how far a writer could go in explicit address to the contentious issues of his day, how he could encode his opinions so that nobody would be required to make an example of him” (Patterson 11). As a consequence, the dramatists “as a species were apolitical and conformist, either prudentially or by conviction” as Dutton assumes (Dutton 288). There was one major figure that controlled the dramatic production. It was Master of Revels. Once a play was written it had to be licensed by the Master of the Revels, who licensed (at a cost of seven shillings) all dramatic pieces of writing and therefore “made sure that companies performed in a manner that he considered respectful and orderly” (Bryson 72-3).

However, the censorship did not start as late as during the Elizabethan era. As Richard Dutton points out in his essay Censorship there is an evidence of a strong church interference from the 1530s. There are references “to the pope’s control of the audience [which] were removed from the proclamation of the Chester cycle” (Dutton 290). These church interventions finally led to the end of mystery plays while censorships continued through the Renaissance.



3.6. Collaboration in Early English Modern Drama

Generally speaking, playwriting is a collaborative process. Playwrights used to collaborate with other playwrights, with the acting company they wrote for and, in broader sense, even with the audience.

During the English Renaissance most plays were written in collaboration. Since each of the London theatres staged about two new plays per month (which means a premiere every two weeks) and as the option of staging some older plays was not possible at that time (there simply were no longer any old plays to stage, since they already had been staged), the need for new plays (and therefore the need for playwrights) was huge. Besides, the audience was more or less still the same; therefore the only option to keep the audience’s attention was to come with a new play.

As Jeffrey A. Masten argues in his essay Beaumont and/or Fletcher “collaboration was the Renaissance English theatre’s dominant mode of textual production” which makes perfect sense when we take into account the theatres’ demand mentioned earlier. Masten’s argument is based on Gerald Eades Bentley’s study where Bentley notes that nearly two thirds of the plays mentioned in Henslowe’s Diary “reflect the participation of more than one writer”. Since no other extensive records are preserved we work on an assumption that other dramatists (not working for Henslowe) worked similarly, i.e. collaborated.

It is certainly possible that the playwrights apart from ´Henslowe’s team’ worked individually, but it seems highly improbable. Nevertheless, I must admit, that there are some works that support this opinion (individual playwriting), like What is a Co-author where Jeffrey Knapp claims that “the primary theoretical model for writing during English Renaissance was single authorship”. It is definitely true that individual authorship existed in Renaissance drama but I would disagree with Knapp that seeing playwriting during English Renaissance mostly as a product of collaboration is a “crucial error”. First, there is enough evidence to prove the extensive collaboration on a direct level, by which I mean a direct collaboration – multiple authorship. Second, if we take into account indirect collaboration, as rewriting and revising, there is enough evidence to prove this argument as well. I use Masten’s essay Beaumont and/or Fletcher again to support this argument, since he declares:

It was common practice for the professional writers attached to a given theatrical company to compose new prologues, epilogues, songs, characters and scenes for revivals of plays where they did not originally have a hand – Doctor Faustus and Sir Thomas More are famous examples. (Masten 165).

Furthermore, the plays were from the moment when sold to a theatrical company the property of the given company to which it was sold and the author had no longer any control over it. And since the lead players were often shareholders in theatrical companies and they were frequently playwrights themselves play revising was a common phenomenon. Third, if we think of collaboration in drama in a broader sense of the word (cooperation between dramatists, actors, costumers and the stage crew as such and in a way the audience), we must grant collaborative work a dominant method.


    1. Major Elizabethan Authors – in the aspect of collaboration

Since the audience was relatively stable, frequent change of repertoire was a necessity. There was a different play staged every day during a week, each play was repeated two to four times a month and each play took about two to three hours; consequently the amount of a dramatic material was enormous. Not less enormous were the requirements the actors had to meet, especially for their memories, since each actor played either a main character or two minor ones. And as busy were the authors of the plays, who had to be very prolific.

Some theatre owners kept permanent authors. For example Philip Henslowe, the owner of the Rose and Fortune theatres “kept sort of dramatic stable of hack playwrights[…], his standard quartet included Chettle, Drayton, Munday and Dekker”15 (Bejblík 28). These authors (as well as others) often collaborated in order to fulfil the theatres demands.

For example Michael Drayton and Anthony Munday wrote together a play called Mother Redcap in 1595, this play was never published, so we know about it only thanks to the Henslowe´s records16. Munday collaborated with Henry Chettle for example on a play The Death of Robert Earl of Huntington, which was printed in 1601; Michael Drayton, Thomas Middleton, John Webster a Anthony Munday wrote together a play called Two Harpies in 1602. On these examples we can see, that collaboration between two and more authors was very common during the Early English Modern Drama.

There were also some rather stable ‘writer teams’. For instance, John Fletcher first collaborated with Francis Beaumont. They wrote many plays together, probably the most successful one was Philaster, first staged probably between December 7, 1609 and July 12, 1610 since this was the only “continuous period [between August 8, 1608 and October 8, 1610] in which plays might have been presented […]without violating the plague law” (Gayley 105). This play was very successful and thanks to it (as Gayley points out) the authors “leaped into the foremost rank as dramatists” (Gayley 105). The pair of authors was so successful mainly because they were original, since “none of the great Beaumot-Fletcher plots is borrowed” which was probably Beaumont’s merit, since when Fletcher wrote alone or with other authors, he used to borrow plots from some well known sources.(Gayley 107) These two authors collaborated for few years until1613 when Beaumont got married and stopped writing. Afterwards, John Fletcher collaborated extensively with Philip Massinger. They wrote for example Sir John van Olden Barnavelt or The Double Marriage. As for the nature of their collaboration, it is assumed that Fletcher wrote dialogues and Massinger took care of a dramatic composition, which indicates that their cooperation was more balanced than the one of Fletcher and Beaumont, where Beaumont is believed to have the upper hand. John Fletcher also collaborated with Henry Field, these two authors, together with Massinger wrote The Honest Man's Fortune; with Rowley –they collaborated on The Maid in the Mill; with Shirley The Night Walker and The Little Thief and also with William Shakespeare. Plays like Henry VIII (All is True), The Two Noble Kinsmen and Cardenio came out of Fletcher’s collaboration with Shakespeare.

Ben Jonson, “the first Englishman to earn his living as a writer” (Van den Berg, 1) also collaborated with others on many of his plays. These collaborated plays include a lost play The Isle of Dogs, which aroused a “scandal, not experienced by the Elizabethan theatre before”17; this political satire written in collaboration with Thomas Nashe was staged in The Swan theatre in July 1597. Ben Jonson was arrested and shortly imprisoned in the Marshalsea Prison while Nashe managed to escape to the country. The city hall consequently insisted on pulling down all London’s theatres. Even though the order was issued, it was fortunately not fulfilled. Nevertheless, monopolization occurred as a result of this incident and dramatists were reduced on two theatres, The Rose and The Curtain. The Swan theatre then “served as a multi-purpose facility, progressively declined and in the 1630’s ran-down completely” (Bejblík 27).18 Apart the scandal arousing Isle of Dogs Johnson worked on many other plays, like: The Case is Altered (with Henry Porter and Anthony Munday) or Eastward Ho (with George Chapman and John Marston), the authors were imprisoned for politically unwise satire against the Scots. Jonson also indirectly collaborated on some plays, as was common during English Renaissance. This indirect collaboration can be detected in Henslowe’s Diary. Like in the record from 1601, when Jonson was paid by Philip Henslowe for additions to Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy.

Despite his frequent collaborations, Jonson never collaborated with Shakespeare. On the contrary, it is believed that these two authors were rather rivals. Jonson is rumoured to make derisive remarks on two absurdities in Shakespeare’s plays: a nonsensical line in Julius Caesar and geographical inaccuracy in The Winter’s Tale. Nevertheless, Jonson wrote introduction for Shakespeare’s First Folio, where he evaluates Shakespeare in these words “To the memory of my beloved, The AUTHOR, Mr. William Shakespeare: And what he hath left us.”

John Webster, the last of the great Elizabethan poets, collaborated (with Anthony Munday, Thomas Middleton, Michael Drayton and other) on a play called Caesar’s Fall. Webster also collaborated with Dekker and Heywood.

The playwrights, called play-makers at that time, were usually amateurs. The authors very often had a civil occupation and writing was “at best ‘a minor occupation’”19 to them (Bejblík 180). So we may conclude, that there were two major groups of playwrights, one included playwrights who wrote their plays rather for pleasure (these playwrights were usually well-educated aristocrats) the other group involved playwrights who were usually townspeople to whom the writing also served as a (at least partial) source of income. These so called professional playwrights, i.e. the playwrights who wrote for living, emerged after 1580, by the emergence of the university wits. University wits were young university educated men, who “could not do anything useful” so they decided to earn they living by wrighting (Bejblík 180).20 The university wits include Marlowe, Peele, Chettle, Greene, Nashe and Lodge). These playwrights often felt superior to the non-educated playwrights, in spite of the fact that plays interlarded with educated terms never been a guarantee of success. These playwrights also had in common a “sort of disdainfulness and a fondness for non-conventional way of life” Bejblík 179).21 As far as the disdainfulness is concerned, it is especially obvious in Greene’s pamphlet Groatsworth of Wit Bought with a Million of Repentance written at the end of the author’s life. In this pamphlet he regrets his wasted life and at the very beginning he writes sort of warning to his colleagues (Marlowe, Nashe and Peele) where he exhorts them not to trust the professional writers and adds:

Trust them not: for there is an vpstart Crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his Tygers hart wrapt in a Players hyde, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blanke verse as the best of you: and being an absolute Iohannes fac totum, is in his owne conceit the onely Shake-scene in a countrey.”

By the ‘upstart crow’ Greene probably meant William Shakespeare, since there is a hint for Shakespeare’s name –Shake-scene – and the words “Tygers hart wrapt in a Players hyde” is an ironical modification of Shakespeare’s play Henry VI. (Greene). Greene was probably offended by Shakespeare’s playwriting, since Shakespeare in the plays Titus Andronicus and Comedy of errors “dealt with Plautus and Roman themes. By this […] he entered the university wits ground, hence Green, extremely vain of his degrees could feel deeply offended by the impudence of an uneducated newcomer, who dealt with themes reserved for university educated masters of arts” (Bejblík 10)22. The pamphlet was issued by Chettle, who later apologized for Greene’s accusation in in the preface to his Kind Heart's Dream:

I am as sorry as if the original fault had been my fault, because myself have seen his demeanor no less civil than he excellent in the quality he professes. Besides, the diver of worship have reported his uprightness of dealing, which argues his honesty, and his facetious grace in writing that approves his art.(Chettle)

There was also a special group of playwrights, who also worked as actors. This seems logical, since the play writing itself is closely connected with the theatre. And it is true that many great playwrights, including Shakespeare, Field and Heywood, were actors. But this ‘theatrical multi-profession’ should not be seen as a general pattern because it was rather an exception.



    1. Selected plays written in collaboration

3.8.1 Thomas Middleton and William Rowley’s The Changeling

Thomas Middleton was one of the most successful English Jacobean playwrights and poets.

Middleton was a prolific author since the age of twenty till his death, i.e. in the first quarter of the seventeenth century. He wrote about thirty plays (often in collaboration), some masques, prose and poetry, and also several pamphlets. At the beginning of his career, Middleton wrote mostly “satirical city comedies of sexual and financial intrigue” often acted by boys´ companies, later he wrote more tragicomedies and tragedies (Bawcutt 1).

Middleton seems to be a ´collaborator by nature’, he collaborated on large amount of plays directly as well as indirectly – Middleton is e.g. believed to revise Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure and Macbeth. Although, I need to mention here, that Middleton did write independently, his probably most successful solo-written plays are Women beware Women, written probably in 1623, but the exact year is uncertain23, published in 1657, it is a tragedy based on actual events, and A Game at Chess, staged in 1624 at the Globe theatre performed by The King’s Men, it is a political satire about English-Spanish relations, where the protagonists bear names of chess figures.

William Rowley was more known for his acting than for his writing. He specialized in clown characters.

As far as his writing is concerned, Rowley wrote exclusively drama (apart from a pamphlet A Search for Money, 1619), usually in collaboration with other, more successful playwrights. These collaborations include The Witch of Edmonton (with John Ford and Thomas Dekker, performed in 1621, printed 1658), The Maid in the Mill (co-written with John Fletcher, performed in 1623, printed 1647), A Cure for a Cockold (with John Webster, performed 1624, printed 1661), Fortune by Land and Sea (with Thomas Heywood, performed 1607, printed 1655) and others.

William Rowley also wrote independently and in his plays he usually created a character for himself, i.e. Rowley the dramatist wrote parts for Rowley, the actor. He wrote for example a tragedy All’s Lost by Lust (where he created the character of Jacques for himself), this play had a great success and was revived during the Restoration.

Middleton and Rowley are connected in direct collaborations (they co-wrote several plays like A Fair Quarrel (performed 1614-17, printed 1617), The World Tossed at Tennis (performed and printed 1620) and The Changeling (performed 1622 and printed 1653). Besides, they also collaborated indirectly, when Thomas Middleton wrote clown characters for William Rowley, these include The Fat Bishop in A Game at Chess (1624) and Plumporridge in Inner Temple Masque or The Masque of Heroes (1619).

The play The Changeling is generally believed to be one of the masterpieces of the English Renaissance period. The Changeling is a tragedy written by Thomas Middleton and William Rowley. It was probably written “in spring 1622”, licensed for performance in 1622 by the Master of Revels, Sir John Astley24, staged at The Phoenix in 1622, performed by Lady Elizabeth’s Men (Williams 6). The play was printed 31 years later (1653) by Humphrey Moseley, the bookseller.

The play itself consists of two parallel plots. The main plot involves Alsamero who falls in love with Beatrice-Joanna, and Alonzo, to whom is Beatrice-Joanna engaged. Beatrice-Joanna decides she wants to be with Alsamero and wants to get rid of Alonzo, so she asks De Flores (her brother’s servant who is in love with Beatrice-Joanna) to kill him. As a spectator can easily predict, this has a tragic outcome and ends with Beatrice-Joanna’s and De Flores’ deaths. The subplot involves an old doctor Alibius and his young wife Isabella. Alibius does not trust his wife when he is away, so he asks his servant Lollio to keep an eye on her and lock her up. Antonio and Francisco, pretending to be madmen, get in to the asylum in order to be with Isabella. When Antonio reveals his true self to Isabella and declares his love her Lollio overhears him and uses this against Isabella. Francisco also reveals his feelings for Isabella in a letter. Lollio makes Francisco believe that Isabella loves him and that he needs to get rid of Antonio. Lollio also tricks Antonio the same way. The subplot has a similar tragic outcome as the main plot.



The Changeling, as I have already mentioned, was a successful play and it is believed to be generally known at that time. It was performed since it’s licensing in 1622 till the acting group was disbanded during the plague three years later and some quotations of the play established within an ordinary language as for example the name of one protagonist – Antonio, Tony became a synonym for a “simpleton or fool” (Williams 10).

As common with English modern drama written in collaboration scholars tend to assign particular lines to a particular author. Since the play itself is consistent, smoothly organized, leaving very few “discrepancies and irregularities” it is difficult to divide the play with absolute certainty (Williams 12). There are several different ways to assign the authorship. The scholar can base his/her analysis either on textual parallels such as “characteristic themes, images, vocabulary and word-play” or on versification or on character types (Williams 12).

The division of The Changeling was first made by Pauline Wiggin in 1897 and it is generally accepted with a single change made by David Lake25 in 1975, who assigns the first sixteen lines of Act IV, scene ii to William Rowley. His assertion is the same as E. H. C. Oliphant´s (1922)26 and Cyrus Hoy (1960). Therefore the division is as follows:

Middleton — Act I

Act III, scenes i, ii, and iv;

Act IV, scenes i and ii;

Act V, scenes i and ii;

Rowley — Act I;

Act III, scene iii;

Act IV, scenes ii and iii;

Act V, scene iii.

Generally, Thomas Middleton is responsible for the main plot and William Rowley “was responsible for the opening and closing scenes […] and for the subplot of the play” (Bawcutt, 2).

Although, there have been several more changes suggested. R. V. Holdsworth “suggested Middleton´s hand throughout 5.3” and Dougles Bruster believes Middleton wrote part of the very first scene of the play, “especially [in] Alsamero´s opening soliloquy” (Taylor, Lavagnino, 423). Nevertheless, these are minor changes in the division given earlier.
3.8.2. William Shakespeare and John Fletcher’s The Two Noble Kinsmen

William Shakespeare is the most famous playwright of the Renaissance period His plays are often staged all over the world, has been translated into numerous languages and many works on his plays have been published. The figure of the playwright himself as well as his plays has been scrutinized into every detail, so one asks a question if there is anything more to write about this playwright.

Even at his time Shakespeare was renowned playwright. He was known for his independently written plays as well as for his collaborations. In this paper, I am going to concentrate on his collaboration with John Fletcher and their play The Two Noble Kinsmen.

John Fletcher was at his time nearly as famous as Shakespeare. He was also a prolific playwright and a frequent collaborator. He for example co-wrote tragicomedy Philaster, with Francis Beaumont (written c. 1610, performed by the King´s Men at The Globe and Blackfriars) which was a great success and was also staged at the Court twice in 1612-13. Fletcher most often collaborated with Beaumont and Philips Massinger (e.g. on Sir John van Olden Barnavelt, 1619) but also with other playwrights.

As for Shakespeare/Fletcher collaboration, they are believed to work on three plays together: Henry VIII (traditionally ascribed to Shakespeare), Cardenio and The Two Noble Kinsmen.

The Two Noble Kinsmen is a comedy based on The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. The drama tells a story of two close friends Palamon and Arcite who both fall in love with the same woman, Emilia. Since the moment on, their friendship is turned into rivalry which ends with a tournament which Arcite wins, but falls from his horse and dies, so Palamon eventually marries Emilia.
The exact date when the play was written is not known, nevertheless it is now “commonly assigned to 1612 or 1613” since the play was performed for public in 1613-14 and at Court in 1619 (Bertram, 21).

Another uncertainty is with the authorship itself. Despite the title page of the play scholars believed for a long time that the only author of the play was John Fletcher. As Eugene M. Waith in the 1998 preface of edition of the play points out: “ the most obvious reason for doubting Shakespeare’s collaboration is the fact that The Two Noble Kinsmen was not included in any of the seventeenth-century folio editions of his work” (Waith, 4). Even though there is external evidence of collaborative work, since both flether´s and Shakespeare´s names appear on the title page, that does not prove the play was with absolute certainty written in collaboration. As for internal evidence, Shakespeare’s style as well as Fletcher’s one can be easily recognized, since both of the playwrights developed specific style in language and rhythm. Shakespeare tends to use rather old-fashioned language, for example his typical “hath” instead of “has” and doth instead of does e.g. “[…] whom Jove hath marked” (I.i.29). Fletcher on the contrary almost exclusively uses has and does, e.g. “He has no weapons” (III.ii.13). Shakespeare also uses redundant do/did e.g.”I do bleed” I.i.20. Fletcher, on the other hand, very often uses ye instead of you, “especially as an object” (Potter, 22) e.g. “[…] that will lose ye [...]“(II.ii.179). Nevertheless, these still prove nothing, since the words might have been used consciously or a copyist might have changed some words.

Nevertheless the textual analyses of the scholars of the 17th century suggest that Shakespeare did have a hand in the play. The first scholar who recognized Shakespeare’s features in the play was highly probably Charles Lamb. Lamb was then followed by Henry Weber, who in 1812 made the first attempt to create “scene-by-scene division between the two collaborators” (Waith, 8). Nevertheless, Shakespeare’s participation was still seen uncertain and the play was placed in “a group of doubtful plays” till 1866, when Alexander Dyce “included [the play] in his second edition” of Shakespeare (Waith, 8). The play is still believed to be rather Fletcher’s than Shakespeare’s for several reasons. First, Fletcher’s name appears first on the title page, this might have been caused by publisher’s belief in alphabetical order or, which seems more likely to me, by the fact that the play “belongs slightly more to him [i.e. Fletcher] than to Shakespeare” (Potter, 6). Second, it is unusual for Shakespeare (as well as for other playwrights to parody his own plays, therefore it is more likely Fletcher’s work.

Also the division of the work is still not absolutely certain. There are certain doubts about Act IV, scene I, which is traditionally ascribed to Fletcher, but there can be traced Shakespeare’s influence, since there is “unmistakeable reminiscence of both Ophelia and Desdemona” (Shepherd, 213) but the question is whether Fletcher only used Shakespeare’s characters or whether he wrote the scene himself. According to scholars, the latter seems more likely, therefore the division of the work is as follows:

Shakespeare—Act I, scenes i, ii and iii;

Act II, scene i;

Act III, scene i;

Act V, scene i, iii and iv

Fletcher—Prologue;

Act II, scenes ii, iii, iv, v, vi;

Act III, scenes ii, iii, iv, v, vi;

Act IV, scenes i and iii;

Act V, scene i and ii;

Epilogue


Though, some uncertainties have not still been solved. There still remain several scenes (Act I, scenes iv and v; Act IV, scene ii) whose authorship is uncertain.

To conclude, I dare to say The Two Noble Kinsmen is definitely Fletcher’s play which can be easily detected through external as well internal evidence. Fletcher’s style is easily recognizable for example through his use of “feminine endings” and since the play parodies Shakespeare’s plays which Shakespeare would not do himself (Potter 18). Besides scholars mostly agree, that these ´Shakespearean reminiscence´ are “generally attributed to Fletcher” (Potter, 19). On the other hand I do believe Shakespeare did have a hand in the play, since Fletcher was at that time already well known playwright, so Shakespeare’s name on the title page only for advertisement seems unlikely to me. Besides, the play is full of new words, which is typical for Shakespeare.




    1. Similarities and Differences in Early English Modern Drama and TV Series Nowadays

Contemporary authors are challenged by situation very similar to the one of the Renaissance era. When we take into account the work of scriptwriters of soap operas and TV series, which are very popular nowadays, it is genuinely reminiscent of English Renaissance playwriting. These series are produced in large amounts (it is a manufacture actually), since you need a new episode at least once a week, but usually more frequently. Therefore it is evident, that a single person, no matter how talented he or she might be, would never be able to fulfil the demand.

Thus we may state that playwriting in the early English modern drama and TV series scriptwriting nowadays have much in common.

First, both these genres are primarily created in order to entertain the audience. Consequently, the audience is the power which decides on its success and even existence. As Stillinger argues in his book Multiple Authorship both these genres “are literally ´show business´ and, as such, have to sell to the audiences or they go out of existence”(Stillinger 163). If people don’t come to the theatre, the play is not going to be staged again as well as if the TV series rating is not high enough new episodes are not shot and screened. It is assumed, that a theatre in London needed “to draw as many as two thousand spectators a day […] two hundred or so times a year, and to do so repeatedly against stiff competition” if the theatre wanted to prosper (Bryson 77). This means that the audience had to be entertained by a different play almost every day, as in other case it would not come back. This is why most companies performed “at least five different plays a week”; any given new play might be staged three times in the first month and then “rested for a few months or abandoned altogether” (Bryson 78). For a TV series the conditions are similar, if the rating is not high enough, and changes do not help, the series is called off.

Second, people, who went to the theatres during Elizabethan era and people, who sit in front of their televisions watching popular series like Desperate Housewives or Prison Break do not pay much (or rather absolutely none) attention to the authors of their subjects of entertainment, they just want to relax and be entertained. And what is more, not even they do not know (because they do not need to know) the name of the author(s), they do not know the title of the episode either, as Stillinger points out that the same was true for the Elizabethans, since he claims ”frequently playgoers did not even know the title of the play they were attending” (Stillinger 164).This indicates that the title of a play was no more important to the theatre audience than the name of an episode of the TV series viewer. Both these ´groups´ are surely aware of the name of the ‘superordinate’, so they knew they are going for example to the Globe as well as TV viewers know they are watching for example Law and Order; but the name of the episode is as redundant information to them as the title of a play was redundant for Elizabethans.

Third, the plays as well as the scripts are often written in collaboration.

Fourth, the conditions of birth of a play during English Renaissance is very similar to the conditions of birth of a TV series nowadays. In the case of TV series, first a pilot (i.e. a test episode) is made, if producers like it the script for the first series is written and then it is shot and screened. In the case of a play, first a plot (i.e. about page or two long description of what the play itself should be about), if the company likes it, then it is written, rehearsed and staged. Besides, the role of the Master of Revels (person, who was responsible for ‘appropriateness’ of a play), could be compared to a state committee in any given extreme regime state, which as the Master of Revels decides whether the play/film/series is appropriate or not. The author who is too ´out of line´ might be imprisoned, his filmmaking, writing or any other form of expressing himself might be stopped or he might be persecuted in any other way, as well as those who displeased the Master of Revels in Elizabethan times could “in theory be jailed at his indefinite pleasure […and be] threatened with having their ears and noses lopped off” (Bryson 73).

As there are many similarities in plays and TV series there are at least as many differences as well. Since in the plays, when the author is known, the author is the one (or are the ones) who wrote the play, in the case of TV series (and more extremely in films as such) the author is usually considered to be the director, not the person who actually wrote it – the scriptwriter.



  1. Conclusion

The aim of this thesis was to analyze collaborations in Early English modern drama and in broader sense to explain why people collaborate in the field of creative work. Since collaboration was widely spread during the English Renaissance and in certain point of view one may say collaboration was actually on its peak I decided to use this period.

In order to get through a present day reader I compared the playwriting in English Renaissance to TV series nowadays since they show a lot of similar features.

Collaboration can be divided into two categories. First, it is indirect collaboration, which includes re-writing other people works. In the English renaissance this meant re-creating the plays written before and elaboration or transformation of themes used by another author. Second, it is direct collaboration, by which I understand joined work of two and more authors in order to create a single piece of writing, i.e. multiple authorship. Also revising other people works or additions made to a play fall into this category.

The main reasons for collaboration are usually ether lack of time or lack of certain skills. Lack of time was a long-lasting crucial problem during English Renaissance, since there was imbalance of supply and demand of plays. Lack of certain skills is not as spread, or at lest not as obvious, but it can still be detected in some authors’ writings.

Since playwriting, theatregoing and staging during English renaissance is different from the one familiar to present day reader I felt it necessary to explain the difference. Therefore the specific features of Elizabethan/Jacobean theatre are analyzed.

I also use two plays of the given period (The Changeling and The Two Noble Kinsmen) in order to provide a specific example.



5. Résumé
My thesis deals with collaboration in Early English Modern Drama. Generally speaking, people collaborate in virtually every field in their lives. Some collaborations result from basic necessity (usually lack of particular skills or lack of time), other result from individual choice.

Collaborations can be divided into two basic categories. First it is indirect collaboration (re-writing works of others) and second it is direct collaboration (revising other people works, additions and multiple authorship).

Since collaboration in the field of creative work became widely spread during English renaissance I chose this period. At that time the position of the dramatist was different from the one nowadays. Present day culture tends to emphasize the author, while during the English renaissance it was the product (the play) which was stressed.

The function of Elizabethan drama is similar to the function of present day TV series. The people during renaissance enjoyed theatregoing for the same reason people nowadays sit in front of their televisions, watching their favourite TV series or soap operas. This is to relax and forget everyday worries for a while as well as to be entertained. There are other similarities between playwriting during English renaissance and scriptwriting nowadays. Playwrights collaborated frequently during the English renaissance period in order to fulfil theatres´ demands. The enormous demand is the same reason for collaboration in scriptwriting nowadays.

Both TV series scriptwriting and playwriting are professions which products are blindly received, often without crediting of the author(s), therefore they seem to be not fully appreciated.



  1. Czech Résumé

Tato práce se zaobírá spolupracemi v období anglické renesance. Obecně by se dalo říci, že lidé spolupracují prakticky ve všech oblastech svých životů. Některé spolupráce pramení z čisté nutnosti (tou většinou bývá buď nedostatek uřčitých schopností či nedostatek času), jiné vyvěrají z osobního rozhodnutí.

Spolupráci bychom mohli rozdělit do dvou základních kategorií. Jedná se o spolupráci nepřímou (přetváření jiných prací) a spolupráci přímou (revize a rozšiřování jiných prací a spoluautorství jako takové).

Vzhledem ke skutečnosti, že spolupráce na poli tvůrčím se během anglické renesance stala velmi rozšířenou, zvolila jsem pro účely bakářské práce právě toto období. V té době bylo postavení autora ve společnosti poněkud odlišné od dnešního pojetí. Soudobá kultura má tendenci zdůrazňovat autora, vzniká až jakýsi “kult autora”, zatímco během anglické renesance byl spíše zdůrazňován produkt.

Funkce alžbětinského dramatu je v jistých ohledech velmi podobná funkci dnešních televizních seriálů. Lidé během anglické renesance navštěvovali divadlo z prakticky stejných důvodů z jakých lidé v dnešní době usedají před televizní obrazovky aby shlédli další díl svého oblíbeného seriálu. Tedy odpočinout si, na chvíli zapomenout na každodenní starosti a pobavit se. Také důvody tvůrců ke spolupráci zůstali de facto totožné. Stejně tak jako dramatici psali v týmech aby naplnili obrovskou poptávku po divadelních hrách, i scénáristé pracují často v týmech aby byli schopni dodávat dostatečné množství materiálu pro televizní natáčení.

Jak práce dramatiků tak i práce scénáristů je prací, u které je výsledný produkt přijímán často bez povědomí o autorovi, respektive o autorech, a dá se tedy říci, že stále zůstává ne úplně doceněna.


Works cited and consulted:

Axelrod, Robert M. The Evolution of Cooperation. New York: Basic Books, 2006.

Bejblík, Alois: Shakespearův svět, Praha: Mladá fronta, 1979.

Bejblík, Alois a kol. Alžbětinské divadlo, Shakespearovi předchůdci, Praha: Odeon, 1978–85.

Bawcutt, N. W. (ed). Two Noble Kinsmen/ William Shakespeare and John Fletcher. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1986.

Bowers, Fredson (ed.). The Dramatic Works in the Beaumont and Fletcher Canon. Vol.VII. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2008.

Bartošovská, Z., Hrdlička, F. O Fenoménu Autorské Spolupráce. Britské Listy, 2005. < http://www.blisty.cz/2005/3/2/art22225.html>

Braunmuller A. R., Hattaway, M (eds). The Cambridge Companion to English Renaissance Drama. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2003.

Brooke, C. F. Tucker and Paradise,N. B. (Eds). English Drama 1580-1642.
New York: D. C. Heath and Company, 1933.

Brusin, Bill. Shakespeare: the World as a Stage. London: Harper perennial, 2008.

Carson, Neil. A Companion to Henslowe's Diary. Cambridge:Cambridge UP, 2004.

Collaboration. Case Western University.

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