Between Performances, Texts, and Editions: The Changeling
Williams, Nora Jean
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
This thesis is about the ways in which Thomas Middleton and William Rowley’s play The Changeling has been edited, performed, and archived in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It proposes a more integrated way of looking at the histories of performances and texts than is usually employed by the institutions of Shakespeare and early modern studies. Crucially, it suggests that documented archival remains of performance should be admitted as textual witnesses of a play’s history, and given equal status with academic, scholarly editions. I argue that—despite at least a century of arguments to the contrary—performance is still considered secondary to text, and that this relationship needs to become more balanced, particularly since the canon has begun to expand and early modern plays beyond Shakespeare have begun to see more stage time in recent years. In addition, I begin to theorise social media as archives of performance, and begin to suggest ways forward for archiving the performance of early modern drama in the digital turn. In order to support these arguments, I offer a series of twentieth- and twenty-first-century productions of The Changeling as case studies. Through these case studies, I seek to make connections between The Changeling as text, The Changeling as performance, and the various other texts and performances that it has interacted with throughout its life since 1961. In presenting analyses of these texts and performances side-by-side, within the same history, I aim to show the interdependency of these two usually separated strands of early modern studies and make a case for greater integration of the two in both editorial, historiographical, and performance practices.
College of Humanities International Studentship
PhD in Drama