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'With his theatre he urged people to remember their duties'. Social Criticism in the Seventeenth-Century Theatre of the Low Countries.
'Hy dwong het volk door klucht te luistren naar hun plichten' ('With his farce he urged people to remember their duties'). With this verse the seventeenth-century playwright Jan Vos honoured Bredero, whose theatre was clearly focused on entertainment, while at the same time urging the audience into social criticism. This verse shows concisely how seventeenth-century theatre functioned in contrast to the sixteenth-century didactic theatre of the rhetoricians. In the seventeenth century theatre became professional: it was staged in playhouses for small audiences, and it was mainly meant as entertainment. Playwrights therefore had to apply other means to criticize society. Also most plays were printed allowing them to reach a wider audience. Many plays commenting on political events have already been studied. However, criticism on customs, traditions, trends, sexuality,religion, classes, professions, gender roles, money, etc. up to now received little attention. Therefore I will study the content, strategy and function of these kinds of social criticism in a representative corpus of serious and comic plays from the LowCountries. I will examine these texts in their historical context and in relation to contemporary drama theory to explain the various strategic choices of playwrights in the North and the South. My research will provide new insight into the relationship between theatre and society in the seventeenth century.
Date:1 Oct 2014 → 30 Sep 2015
Keywords:SOCIAL CRITICISM, LOW COUNTRIES, THEATRE STUDIES
Disciplines:Language studies, Literary studies, Theory and methodology of language studies, Theory and methodology of linguistics, Theory and methodology of literary studies, Other languages and literary studies