Because Romantic closet dramas
, in their rejection of the nineteenth-century stage, vehemently declared their allegiance to print literature, it makes sense to read them in the context of poetics.
While this was certainly true in his case, the neglect Geis notices is in part due to the fact that many of the dramatic attempts discussed in this volume were never produced or existed only as what Ronna Johnson correctly terms, in her essay on Gregory Corso, "closet dramas
"--i.e., plays meant to be read and not performed.
These works may be written specifically to be performed by actors, or they may be closet dramas
-simple literary works-written using dramatic forms, but not meant for performance.
Of course, Shelley began Prometheus Unbound in the autumn of 1818, after he had already seen O'Neill in Fazio, so seeing her onstage did not immediately change his mind about writing closet dramas
. Still, her performance was memorable enough that she remained in his thoughts as he set about writing The Cenci during the summer of 1819.
These "image-texts" combine the visual and verbal as in drama, and Brantley thus approaches them as "closet dramas
," arguing that reading was a form of private performance.
In some ways, they had a liminality similar to the Interregnum closet dramas
that Barbara Ravelhofer discusses in her essay "News Drama: The Tragic Subject of Charles I." These plays, often very short and published in pamphlets, were probably never intended to be performed, and yet they drew on various dramatic traditions to depict and comment upon often very recent historical events.
Although not intended for the stage, Milton's tragedy resembles the neoclassical theatre of Jean Racine, to Burbery's mind, more than the closet dramas
of Samuel Daniel or Elizabeth Cary.
When the Roundheads closed the English theaters in 1642, would-be playwrights were forced to pen closet dramas
, deploying the full range of theatrical devices on paper alone.
In arguing for the singular dramatic place occupied by Elizabeth Cary's Tragedie of Mariam (1613), Straznicky spends considerable time situating the play within the elite readership of the Sidney circle and in showing how the layout and typography of Mariam appealed to its exclusive audience as readers and as spectators; thus, Mariam 'is 'private' in a unique sense: its format resembles the most classical of the closet dramas
, but its accommodation of stage business links it equally with some of the elite dramatic publications emanating from the 'private' theatre' (59).
In the following chapters, Filewod examines four formative stages of English Canadian theater: the nineteenth-century "literary" and closet dramas
of Charles Mair and Sarah Anne Curzon; the national and cultural ideology of Vincent Massey; the regional alterneity of the Mummers Troupe; and the transnational capitalism of Garth Drabinsky.
Narrative and rhetorical analysis of the plays explains "the texts' ultimate function of assembling an audience and thereby beginning to convene a radical culture" by "accentuating their formal equivocation as closet dramas
" (156) and thus textualizing a transition from imaginary plots to historical enactments (201-2).