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Jane Tylus (Yale University) – “Do Comedies All (Have to) End Happily? Scenes from Shakespeare, Machiavelli, and their Contemporaries”
November 13, 2020 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
4:00 pm CT / 5:00 pm ET
“If my Tongue cannot entreat you to acquit me: will you command me to use my Legges? And yet that were but light payment, to Dance out of your debt…”
So the epilogue to Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part 2 – an epilogue suggesting that the actor who proposes to dance is in the audience’s debt, dependent on their ‘command.’ In my talk, I’ll be asking how Italian and English comedies end in the Renaissance: for whom are those endings happy ones, and for whom are they not – and why? In the case of plays with epilogues (a much more common feature of early modern comedy than we might think), these endings often necessitate our distancing ourselves as audience members from the story at hand to reflect on our own place in the performance. Since comedy almost always unsettles relations of power and authority, how do an actor’s closing lines implicate us in these dynamics? What kind of “comic relief” are we guaranteed as we leave the theatre?