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Trusting Ben Jonson: Phrasing, Punctuation, Performance

Thursday 25 April 2024, 5.15PM

Speaker(s): Mike Cordner, University of York

This event has been cancelled. New date and time to be confirmed.

“Language most shows a man, speak that I may see thee.” An ambitious exploitation of the dramatic potency of the arts of language is fundamental to the achievements of the pre-1642 English theatre. Ben Jonson’s experiments in this direction are especially radical.

Consequently, he worked obsessively to ensure that the printed editions of his plays did everything possible to convey the aural riches he had provided for his performers. But his endeavours have been consistently misinterpreted, critiqued, and disregarded by modern scholarship. The Shakespeare’s Rivals project, in the School of Arts and Creative Technologies, is designed, via textual analysis and performance experiment, to refresh our alertness to the distinctive ways in which different early modern dramatists handled the medium of verse.

This paper will share some of the results of the project’s explorations, including recordings of Jonson speeches produced by it, in order to demonstrate the rich cues and interpretative stimulus the early printed texts which Jonson so painstakingly supervised offer to modern performers of his masterpieces.

Location: BS/104, The Treehouse