Ben Jonson: Renaissance Dramatist by Sean McEvoy

By Sean McEvoy

In occasion of its Silver Anniversary, the scholarly magazine Dance Research has invited a few exclusive historian and co-workers to give a contribution essays on dance and its profound impact at the cultural and highbrow lifetime of the early smooth interval. participants discover the natue of shape and the numerous hyperlinks among rhetoric, discourses on artwork and structure, and the language of dancing masters. The booklet argues for the centrality of dance to the human experience.

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These are choric figures who do not mediate the play for the audience; the play ignores them. Woolland writes that it is Arruntius’ meta-theatrical status which ultimately saves him from Tiberius’ wrath, as well as his desire not to attract too much attention from Sejanus (who says of Arruntius, ‘he only talks’ (II, )). But Arruntius’ observations seem to me to be rarely insightful or witty, contrary to what Woolland suggests (Woolland : –). If we take Jonson’s Folio punctuation,9 many of these interjections are not asides, but heard and ignored by everyone else on stage.

11 Here is a moment where the play-in-the-world is far more present than the world-in-the-play. The movement of the statue makes that sense even more dominant. In Doran’s RSC production the statue moved by some mechanism, to considerable audience amusement in the performance which I saw, so unexpected was this sort of contrivance in such a brutally realistic political play. In the original production, Ayers contends, the statue must have been played by an actor (Jonson : –). 12 The amusement is compounded when Sejanus describes the statue/ actor’s contortions as having ‘thy neck/ Writhed to thy tail, like a ridiculous cat’ (V, –).

The romantic plot strand concerns the five different men who seek the hand of Rachel du Prie. They include Paolo, Ferneze himself and his servant Christophero. Rachel’s father Jacques has kept her out of the way of suitors but believes that the men are after not his daughter but rather his hoard of gold, which he hides under a heap of manure for safety. He is lured away from his house by a trail of gold coins laid by one of Rachel’s unscrupulous suitors, Angelo, who then attempts to rape Rachel before being prevented by Paulo’s timely arrival.

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