Staging the revolution

Drama, reinvention and history, 1647-72

By Rachel Willie

Staging the revolution


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Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8763-9
  • Pages: 256
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: October 2015
  • BIC Category: European history, Classic & pre-20th century plays, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain, LITERARY CRITICISM / Drama, Humanities / British & Irish history, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: plays & playwrights, Literature, Literary studies: plays & playwrights


Staging the revolution offers a reappraisal of the weight and volume of theatrical output during the commonwealth and early Restoration, both in terms of live performances and performances on the paper stage. It argues that the often-cited notion that 1642 marked an end to theatrical production in England until the playhouses were reopened in 1660 is a product of post-Restoration re-writing of the English civil wars and the representations of royalists and parliamentarians that emerged in the 1640s and 1650s. These retellings of recent events in dramatic form mean that drama is central to civil-war discourse. Staging the revolution examines the ways in which drama was used to rewrite the civil war and commonwealth period and demonstrates that, far from marking a clear cultural demarcation from the theatrical output of the early seventeenth century, the Restoration is constantly reflecting back on the previous thirty years.


STAGING THE REVOLUTION: DRAMA, REVINVENTION, AND HISTORY 1647-72 (Manchester) is a truly remarkable contribution to our understanding of interregnum and post-Restoration theatre. Its central argument - that the drama across the period is marked by striking continuities as well as disruptions - is sustained with a deeply impressive scholarly command; and the sheer range of reference, both primary and secondary, is exceptional. Any easy assumptions we might have entertained about the relationship between republican culture and theatrical practice are authoritatively overturned, and the study gives the great satisfaction of returning us from a broad idea of historical change to the much greater real complexity that happened at the time.
University English Early Career book prize 2016 (Shortlisted)

'Rachel Willie's Staging the Revolution is an exceptional book. A polished piece of clear argumentation and persuasive writing on a notoriously undervalued and understudied period of English theatrical history, the Interregnum and the responses to the Civil War on the Restoration stage, this text is one of the best new books of the year.This exquisitely researched book shifts the ground of analysis of this period in a way that will be felt for years to come.'
Andrew Bretz, Wilfrid Laurier University, Shakespeare Bulletin, Volume 35, Number 1, Spring 2017



Shortlisted for the University English Early Career book prize 2016


Introduction: Of 1647, theatre closure and reinvention
1. The paper stage
2. Fairs, ghosts, tyranny and usurpation: debating the body politic on the paper stage
3. Reinventing the masque: Shirley and Davenant's protectorate entertainments
4. Heroic drama on the commonwealth and Restoration stage
5. Ideas of panegyric in early Restoration comedy
Epilogue: Of 1688 and reinventing the past


Rachel Willie is Lecturer in English Literature at Bangor University

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