chapter  1
38 Pages

“Things Newly Performed”: Tomb Properties and the Survival of the Dramatic Tradition

This chapter focuses on the use of religious books as stage properties rather than as devotional aids, and in the case of the theater it is especially useful to consider evidence that questions the absolute dichotomy between books and images in post-Reformation practice. It examines the persistence of material forms of devotion in England to better understand the appearance of these objects and ceremonies on the public stage. In the case of the sacred book, the phenomenon of its enduring materiality was especially antithetical to the stated project of the Reformation. The chapter explores that the dramas reliance on material properties made it uniquely suited to draw out and comment upon that inescapable physicality. Protestants associated the reading of holy books with a form of piety uncorrupted by the superficial trappings of the Catholic church, and the theater actively appropriated that affective technology by putting acts of prayer on stage.