Uneasy Lies the Head that Wears the Clown: Contract Actors on the Shakespearean Stage” | Early Modern Research Cluster


Friday, November 17, 2017 - 14:00 to 16:00


The emergent professional theatre in Elizabethan England depended on a curious mix of celebrity clowning actors and ill-paid company players, dependent on aristocratic overlords. One of Shakespeare’s early comedies shows the tensions created by this star system but also how easily the celebrity and the contract worker could occupy the same precarious subservience, to a script, to the audience, and to each other. The clown, the servant, and the dog on stage in Two Gentlemen of Verona are all at risk of becoming each other. 

About the Presenter

Elizabeth Hodgson is Professor of English at the University of British Columbia. She works on the literary worlds of the English Renaissance. She has two monographs to her credit, the most recent entitled Grief & Women Writers in the English Renaissance and numerous articles and book chapters. Her current projects include a monograph (“Milton Between Men”) and a series of articles on dangerous spectatorship in Shakespearean drama.