Playwriting Playgoers in Shakespeare’s Theater. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017.

“An extremely substantial contribution to the field.
Playwriting Playgoers in Shakespeare’s Theater has the potential to reconfigure current debates about theatrical authorship and spectatorship, and it also acts as an invaluable primer on a range of neglected material.”—Lucy Munro, King’s College London


Matteo Pangallo’s elegantly written book focuses on a group of writers long-neglected in traditional accounts of the professional early modern stage…. As well as shedding new light on a fascinating and under-researched body of early modern plays, the book’s findings serve to challenge a number of long-held assumptions about amateur playwriting and audiences in this era…. Playwriting Playgoers is an important and timely contribution to the field of early modern playwriting and audience studies and essential reading for anyone keen to learn more about the early modern theatre world, its playwrights, and their mutual impact on each other.”—Siobhan Keenan, De Montfort University


“Pangallo’s focus is certainly conducive to some of the wider aims of audience and reception studies…. Playwriting Playgoers in Shakespeare’s Theater should thus be regarded as a welcome contribution to both of the two disciplines it straddles: early modern studies and audience and reception studies.”—Anna Blackwell, De Montfort University


“This concept is fascinating…. [Playwriting Playgoers in Shakespeare’s Theater] tell[s] the story of some all-but-forgotten playwrights with passion and flair, and brings to our attention texts that have not played a large part in the scholarly conversation, reminding us why they deserve our attention.”—Tiffany Stern, University of Birmingham


Playwriting Playgoers in Shakespeare’s Theater offers a fresh take on the study of early modern audiences and their role in theatrical production…. Taking his readers through manuscript revisions, stage directions, and verse analysis, Pangallo presents an unconventional and largely convincing bid to take amateur playwrights—and the things they can tell us about early modern audience experience—more seriously…. Ultimately, Playwriting Playgoers in Shakespeare’s Theater offers a significant contribution to a number of early modern fields, including the study of audiences, authorship, theatricality, and dramaturgy. Furthermore, it should remain a useful primer on a number of previously overlooked playwrights for years to come.“—Emma Katherine Atwood, University of Montevallo


Pangallo encourages a positive attitude towards this material so often overlooked….This invitation to challenge past perspectives on this material is the book’s main contribution. Pangallo also inspires us to think more about non-canonical works, to open up new avenues of investigation, and to reflect on the importance of adding ‘a different voice to the conversation’ (163), which can be used as ‘direct testimony’ (187) of how professional plays were staged and performed in the first half of the seventeenth century.“—Beatrice Montedoro, Lincoln College, University of Oxford


Pangallo’s study…illustrate[s] how a less restrictive approach to determining which plays we deem worthy of attention, along with an expansion of the kinds of investigations we undertake, might reveal potentially productive, oblique angles of inquiry into early modern playmaking, playgoing, and the correlations between the two.“—Mark Albert Johnston, University of Windsor


“Playwriting Playgoers in Shakespeare’s Theater focuses ingeniously on a model of theatrical dramatic authorship that has been almost totally understudied….Pangallo opens a window onto the world of theatrical consumption rather than theatrical production: on how important audience experience and audience taste were…. The book is a vital and original contribution on the problem of theatrical audiences, significantly advancing our understanding not only of who attended plays or how they responded to them but of drama itself as a fundamentally collaborative entertainment enterprise.“—Henry S. Turner, Rutgers University


Interview with Henry Jenkins, University of Southern California, on Playwriting Playgoers in Shakespeare’s Theater (three parts)


Interview with Dr. Brooke Newman, Associate Director of the Humanities Center at Virginia Commonwealth University, on Playwriting Playgoers in Shakespeare’s Theater (podcast)


Among the dramatists who wrote for the professional playhouses of early modern London was a small group of writers who were neither members of the commercial theater industry writing to make a living nor aristocratic amateurs dipping their toes in theatrical waters for social or political prestige. Instead, they were largely working- and middle-class amateurs who had learned most of what they knew about drama from being members of the audience.

Using a range of familiar and lesser-known print and manuscript plays, as well as literary accounts and documentary evidence, Playwriting Playgoers in Shakespeare’s Theatershows how these playgoers wrote and revised to address what they assumed to be the needs of actors, readers, and the Master of the Revels; how they understood playhouse materials and practices; and how they crafted poetry for theatrical effects. The book also situates them in the context of the period’s concepts of, and attitudes toward, playgoers’ participation in the activity of playmaking.

Plays by playgoers such as the rogue East India Company clerk Walter Mountfort or the highwayman John Clavell invite us into the creative imaginations of spectators, revealing what certain audience members wanted to see and how they thought actors might stage it. By reading Shakespeare’s theater through these playgoers’ works, Matteo Pangallo contributes a new category of evidence to our understanding of the relationships between the early modern stage, its plays, and its audiences. More broadly, he shows how the rise of England’s first commercialized culture industry also gave rise to the first generation of participatory consumers and their attempts to engage with mainstream culture by writing early modern “fan fiction.”


Peer-Reviewed Articles and Notes


Peer-Reviewed Online Articles


Book Chapters



  • The Amazon by Edward Herbert, for The Malone Society Collections XVII. With Cristina Malcolmson and Eugene Hill. Manchester University Press, 2016.
  • The Tragedy of Antigone, the Theban Princesse by Thomas May, for The Malone Society. Manchester University Press, 2016.
  • The English Traveller and The Royal King and the Loyal Subject, for The Collected Works of Thomas Heywood, Vol. 5. General editor, Grace Ioppolo. Oxford University Press, forthcoming.
  • The Launching of the Mary, or the Seaman’s Honest Wife by Walter Mountfort, for Digital Renaissance Editions. Coordinating Editor, Brett Hirsch; General Textual Editor, Will Sharpe. Forthcoming.
  • Titus Andronicus. Assistant Editor, to William Proctor Williams, for the New Variorum Shakespeare (MLA). In progress.


Articles for General Readers

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