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The Absence of AmericaThe London Stage, 1576-1642$
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Gavin Hollis

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198734321

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198734321.001.0001

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The Devil, the Papist, the Player

The Devil, the Papist, the Player

The Virginia Company’s Anti-Theatricalism

Chapter:
(p.33) 1 The Devil, the Papist, the Player
Source:
The Absence of America
Author(s):

Gavin Hollis

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198734321.003.0002

This chapter analyzes the Virginia Company’s accusations that the players were the enemy of Virginia. The Company’s insistence on the players being diabolical, papist, and idle takes on renewed significance in the context of Virginia, precisely because the image of the adventurer as craven bankrupt chimed with two other types that were invested in New World exploration: the Spanish and the players themselves. While the Virginia Company distinguished between the ideal adventurer and the unholy trinity of devil, papist, and player, plays collapsed the adventurer, devil, papist, and player into one another. Through analyses of both Jonson’s Bartholomew Fair (1614), which unfavorably compares Virginia adventuring and the experience of playgoing, and of the promotion and ubiquity of tobacco in playhouse drama, we might begin to think of the playing companies as constructing and even celebrating a vision of the New World as anti-Virginian, albeit not anti-colonial.

Keywords:   anti-theatricalism, Virginia Company, adventurer, religion, Protestantism, Spain, Ben Jonson, Bartholomew Fair, tobacco

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