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Persecution, Plague, and FireFugitive Histories of the Stage in Early Modern England$
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Ellen MacKay

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780226500195

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226500218.001.0001

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The Theater as Conflagration

The Theater as Conflagration

(p.139) 5 The Theater as Conflagration
Persecution, Plague, and Fire

Ellen Mackay

University of Chicago Press

This chapter aims to show how eschatology structures the understanding of early modern England's golden age of the stage. To ground this argument, it begins by piecing together the traces of a mode of disappearance. The story is not buried in a murky past, but set in an incandescent future. It begins in the bright light of the “rash world[‘s]” “burn[ing]”—in the fifth act of a work that John Foxe calls his comoedia apocalyptica. Scholars typically introduce Foxe's drama by conceding that it is the lesser work of the martyrologist. Christus Triumphans (1556), the second and last of Foxe's theatrical experiments, is usually thought to deserve its neglect; “the play has no poetic merit,” writes J. F. Mozley, an assessment that is corroborated by its own plot synopsis.

Keywords:   eschatology, early modern England, John Foxe, comoedia apocalyptica, Christus Triumphans, drama, stage, theatrical experiment

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