‘Aktorzy angielscy w Rzeczypospolitej w 1. połowie XVII w.’

Katritzky, M A and Drábek, Pavel (2023). ‘Aktorzy angielscy w Rzeczypospolitej w 1. połowie XVII w.’. In: Żukowski, Jacek ed. Triumfalna Harmonia. Teatr Władysława IV – eseje. Warsaw: The Royal Castle in Warsaw-Museum, pp. 286–315.


In the absence of archival records from Warsaw, knowledge about the English actors’ performances at the Vasa court can be inferred from what has survived elsewhere, especially in Gdańsk, their richest and most frequent destination. Building on the foundational research of Jerzy Limon, we here offer new insights into the visual evidence and dramaturgy of the English companies in the seventeenth-century Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. We identify and discuss a painting and a coloured broadsheet that invaluably document aspects of the diverse performance culture in the Baltic regions at the time of the Vasa. Previously unconsidered in the context of English travelling actors, we here suggest that these two images expand their known iconography to provide valuable, if inconclusive, insights regarding key factors underpinning their European success. Their characteristically intricate costumes, multi-genre performative skills foregrounding clowning, acrobatics, dancing and music and willingness to embrace a truly transnational repertoire: all contributed to the touring English players’ ability to evade censorship and delight audiences.

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