“Still and all, it was an interesting year.”

—An Interview with Roslyn L. Knutson

Today, we’re delighted to speak with Roslyn L. Knutson, Professor of English Emerita at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock. She is the author of Playing Companies and Commerce in Shakespeare’s Time (2001) and The Repertory of Shakespeare’s Company, 1594–1613 (1991) and has published widely on theater history. Her essay “What’s So Special about 1594?” appeared in Shakespeare Quarterly’s special issue “1594.”

Are Shakespeare specialists and theater historians laying too much stress on the year 1594—or not enough?

Theater historians, just like other historians, want to construct a narrative from the bits of evidence they have available. And they’ve gotten into the field to begin with because they think some people, or events, matter more than others. When the desire for narrative is added to a set of priorities, the inevitable result is to promote some pieces of evidence above others. One of my friends, complimenting my “1594” essay, emailed me with the tactful observation that “still and all, it [1594] was an interesting year.” Of course it was. But it is hard to find a year when nothing happened of significance to the business of playing. The elevation of 1594 has as much to do with scholars’ fascination with Shakespeare and a cultural belief that politicians saw the playing companies as useful pawns in some power game as it does with any specific event that occurred.

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“1594” Roundtable Transcript

On January 26, 2011, authors from Shakespeare Quarterlys special issue “1594″—Andrew Gurr, Holger Schott Syme, Leslie Thomson, and Bart van Es—participated in a roundtable on the issues raised by their essays and the importance of this year to Shakespeare studies and theater history. The transcript of their discussion appears below, and we welcome your comments and reactions.

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1594—A Roundtable

Please join us today from 2 to 4 PM Eastern Time for a roundtable with “1594” authors Andrew Gurr, Holger Schott Syme, Leslie Thomson, and Bart van Es. They will be discussing their articles in the latest issue of Shakespeare Quarterly, our special issue on the year 1594 and its place in English theater history and Shakespeare studies.

We welcome your comments and questions! If you can’t join us this afternoon, send us your comments and we’ll present them to our panelists during the roundtable.