Articles

Devising the Revels

Devising the Revels

W. R. Streitberger (University of Washington)

Early Theatre, 1.1 (1998): 55-74 (paper). Article 5.

Abstract

The term “device” in the sixteenth century might still refer to a written document that explained in detail the creative idea and overall conception of a project. Only one such device survives for a court revel, “Devices to be shewed before the quenes Matie by waye of maskinge at Notthingham castell” [1562]. This device together with evidence from the Revels accounts illustrates how the suppression of individual egos by devisers, artists, and writers in the collaborative production of revels could be considered an exercise in the art of service to a prince.





Tudor court revels were complicated entertainments. They employed elaborate, specially designed costumes and headpieces, often used fixed or moveable pageants or stages, relied on poetry, dialogue, music, song, or dance, occasionally incorporated barriers and tourneys from the tilyard, and sometimes included plays. The notion of proprietorship in the arts has often become entangled in modern discussions of the revels, but the idea does not apply to the creation of the complex entertainments nor to the means by which they were produced.

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