n.1.An actor on the stage; one whose occupation is to represent characters on the stage; as, Garrick was a celebrated stageplayer.
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, published 1913 by G. & C. Merriam Co.
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We see the puppeteers' tenuous hold on legal and social legitimacy borne out in Bartholomew Fair when the puritan Busy charges the 'stageplayers, rhymers, and morris dancers' with 'contempt of the brethren and the cause' (5.5.11-12).