This title examines the painted body of the actor on the early modern stage. The significance of turning healthy players into bloodied bodies, white players into Africans, and living players into gods, ghosts, statues and corpses are the focus of this book. Inventions of the Skin combines archival and materialist work on the early modern history of stage paint with period and contemporary accounts of embodiment and the phenomenology of audience reception. As this study recovers the concrete technology behind this grammar, it demonstrates the shaping influence of cosmetic materiality upon the content and the practical execution of plays. Addressing current debates about the relationship between early- and pre-modern subjectivity and embodiment, this book furthermore challenges the persistent notion that the drama of Shakespeare and his contemporaries was built predominantly around a new, 'modern'language of interiority. It illuminates a history of the stage technology of paint that extends backward to the 1460s York cycle and forward to the 1630s.
It includes 4 chapters that examine goldface and divinity in York's Corpus Christi play, bloodiness in Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, racial masquerade within seventeenth-century court performances and popular plays, and whiteface, death and 'stoniness' across a range of plays, from sixteenth-century Protestant hagiographies to Jacobean tragedies to Shakespeare's late romances. It recovers a crucial grammar of theatrical representation and argues that the onstage embodiment of characters forms an important and overlooked aspect of stage representation.