Ballads and Performance: The Multimodal Stage in Early Modern England

"Ballads+: Staging the Jig in 'Romeo and Juliet'"

Charles Read Baskerville provides the fullest and most influential description of the jig. Baskerville sees the relation between tragedies and their after-piece jigs as utterly disconnected; The Elizabethan Jig and Related Song Drama (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1929; reprint, New York: Dover, 1965). David Wiles, by contrast, submits that the jig’s evolution in the early modern period suggests that, as plays proper became more “orderly,” they pushed all jig-like elements in the main drama back to a postlude performance, as a kind of “release”; Shakespeare’s Clown: Actor and Text in the Elizabethan Playhouse (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 43-46. In Roger Clegg’s and Lucie Skeaping’s opinion, the jig after-piece functioned subversively yet symbiotically with the play it followed to show the “folly of it all” after the tragedy had shown the “pity of it all”; Singing Simpkin and other Bawdy Jigs: Musical Comedy on the Shakespearean Stage. Scripts, Music and Context (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2014), p. 26. Elizabeth Ford ascribes to the clown the function Will Kemp (aka, the servant Peter in Romeo and Juliet) the function of destabilizing the play’s tragic genre; “Will Kemp, Shakespeare, and the Composition of Romeo and Juliet,” Early Theatre 13, no. 2 (2010): 162-75, specifically 165. Lori Culwell argues that the clown in Shakespearean theater reinforces the order of the tragic world by demonstrating the chaos of hedonism and extreme disorder: “The Role of the Clown in Shakespeare's Theatre.” Early Modern Literary Studies, SHAKSPER-L list (2004). Douglas Bruster and Robert Weimann similarly suggest that, like the medieval Vice, the clown and his antics embody a counter-argument that purposely misinterprets the orthodox and representational aspects of the tragedy; Shakespeare and the Power of Performance: Stage and Page in the Elizabethan Theatre (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 35. And William West describes the aim of the after-piece jig as “noise”—a movement toward the disorder of everyday life; “When is the jig up – And what is it up to?” in Helen Ostovich, Holger Schott Syme, and Andrew Griffin, eds., Locating the Queen's Men, 1583-1603: Material Practices and Conditions of Playing (Burlington: Ashgate, 2009), 214.

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