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Imagining SpectatorshipFrom the Mysteries to the Shakespearean Stage$
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John J. McGavin and Greg Walker

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198768616

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198768616.001.0001

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Watching The Three Estates

Watching The Three Estates

(p.144) 5 Watching The Three Estates
Imagining Spectatorship

John J. Mcgavin

Greg Walker

Oxford University Press

This chapter offers the third of the book’s extended case studies of spectatorial experience. It starts with the authors’ differing experiences of a unique modern performance of the full version of Sir David Lyndsay’s monumental drama Ane Satire of the Thrie Estaitis (A Satire of the Three Estates, first performed in 1552 and 1554). It uses these to prompt wider reflection on the process of witnessing performance, both in the sixteenth century and today. It considers the problems of historicizing spectatorship, arguing that such an attempt has to engage with the different theatres, physical and mental, within which any performance has its existence for the spectator. And it discusses the difficulty of identifying possible analogies between spectator responses across the centuries, suggesting through specific examples that we often need to recalibrate what we think of as ‘alien’, or as ‘recognizable’, in the drama of the past.

Keywords:   A Satire of the Three Estates, historicizing performance, dramatic recreation, witnessing, visual theatre, mental theatres, early-modern culture

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