How Laughter Vanished from Zeeland: Farces of De Rode Lelie of Brouwershaven

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This chapter characterises the genre of farce as it was cultivated by the rhetoricians, drawing on a collection of partly incomplete farce scripts that survived in the town of Brouwershaven. The manuscript testifies to a relatively short-lived flourishing of rhetorical theatre activity in this small harbour town in the province of Zeeland, which saw the founding of a chamber of rhetoric named De Rode Lelie (The Red Lily) in 1557 – about a decade before rising discontent in the Low Countries escalated into the Dutch Revolt. The Red Lily managed to survive these tribulations until the end of the century, albeit undoubtedly facing intermittent periods during which cultural activity was thwarted by government measures or the consequences and side effects of the civil war. Its farces are typical exemplars of the genre as it was fashioned by the rhetoricians in the long sixteenth century, with its abundant potential for visual, verbal and acoustic onstage showmanship. Viewed against the backdrop of the turmoil in Zeeland in the second half of the sixteenth century, the plays also confront us with the fluidity of the boundary between carefree humour and critical satire.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023

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