“You have a better needle, I know”. Boy Actors on the Early Modern Stage
In this article I argue that an approach relying on metatheatrical analysis and on Bakhtin’s Carnivalesque could account for the apparent subversivism of the boy actor’s cross-dressing on the Renaissance stage: stage cross-dressing was rather part of a sanctioned, conservative transgression. Comedy – linked to the carnivalesque features of the Renaissance stage – shares with carnival its conservatively transgressive quality. The frequency of references to boy actors in disguise-plot comedies and their metatheatricality are analysed. Drawing on the Jacobean play Love’s Cure I will try to show how comic conservatism and metatheatre combine with socially and theatrically conservative outcomes.