chapter  2
12 Pages

Magnetic Theaters


Recent work on Shakespearean drama explores the extent to which foreign theatrical practices, particularly the presence of women on the Continental stage, influenced early modern English performance. When examining the effects of traveling troupes and transnational texts, the discussion tends to center on the characters of the innamorata and the courtesan, particularly cross-dressed, often as figures for same-sex desire or international commerce. This chapter discusses a third import from Italian drama, the Nurse, Nutrice, or Balia, who represents a significant model for hybridity created by and for the stage. There remains a striking disjunction in the play between the Nurse's occupational role and her protracted physical presence in the Capulet household. The naming of the Nurse as 'good Angelica' (Iir) by Lord Capulet connects her to the commedia dell'arte, and to Drusiano Martinelli's troupe in particular, as Angelica was famously the name of Martinelli's wife, taking center billing in the group's tours in the late 1580s.