<p>Abstract:</p><p>This essay contextualizes Ben Jonsonâs <i>The Alchemist</i> in relation to the social controversy generated by Londonâs rich runaways in the first decade of the seventeenth century. Reading the surviving playtext as a record of a site-specific performance at Londonâs Blackfriars playhouse in November 1610, I argue that the notable presence of the Blackfriarsâ stage-sitters is a crucial dimension of Jonsonâs dramaturgy, one previously unconsidered in scholarship on the play. Occupying a contradictory play space that is informed by contemporary theories positing a material connection between playgoing and the threat of plague exposure, on the one hand, and the emergent public awareness of plague mortality as a class-based phenomenon, on the other, <i>The Alchemist</i> ironically stages the hazardous proximity of other bodies as a provocation to its socially privileged audiences, especially those seated onstage at the Blackfriars playhouse in November 1610.</p>
Studies in Philology – University of North Carolina Press
Published: Jun 29, 2018
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