Read Not Dead: A Shakespeare’s Globe Staged Reading of Philip Massinger’s The Renegado
Initiating a collaboration between the Universities of Sussex and Kent, and Shakespeare’s Globe, this is a staged reading of Philip Massinger’s remarkable play of passion, disguise, captivity and conversion, The Renegado (1624), by actors from the Globe.
The play follows the efforts of Vitelli, a Venetian gentleman, to rescue his sister Paullina, who has been abducted by Muslim pirates and sold into the harem of the Viceroy of Tunis, Assambeg. Incorporating disguise, a magic amulet, converts and love across religions, the play is a provocative mingling of romance with seventeenth century geo-politics and has powerful resonances in the polarised circumstances of the twenty-first century.
The staged reading takes place as part of the Globe’s Read Not Dead Massinger season, based on a formula in which actors are given a play on a Sunday morning and present it, script in hand, to an audience later that afternoon. What follows is a shared spirit of adventure and excitement for actors and audiences alike who sense they might be uncovering a neglected gem.
It is the first in a series of events in a project exploring the early modern ‘Turk play’, one of the first crazes in London’s purpose-built playhouses, a dramatic phenomenon focused on Islam and Muslims (especially the Ottoman Empire). Its popularity was sustained for an extraordinary length of time – nearly a century, from Elizabethan to Restoration England – and theatrical companies and their dramatists vigorously competed to ‘out-Turk’ each other. But they were not always appreciated: Ben Jonson and others lamented the ‘Tamerlanes and Tamer-chams of the late Age, which had nothing in them but the scenicall strutting, and furious vociferation, to warrant them to the ignorant gapers’ (Jonson 1641, 100).
Despite Jonson’s vilification, and the now routine use of the term, the ‘Turk play’ remains undefined. The purpose of this innovative project will be to examine these plays in terms of a range of issues – their coherence as a genre; their impact, genesis and evolution; their connection with continental models; and their afterlife, particularly in terms of deepening a history of Islam in Britain.
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Dates & Times
Sunday 11 June, 20174:00pm – 7:00pm