This article describes the documentary evidences that survive showing participation by women (as actors, sponsors, and producers) in local performance in Suffolk during the Middle Ages and Early Modern periods. The records show that venues ranged, without controversy, from private households to parishes and guilds to religious houses before the culturally contested decades from the late-sixteenth through the mid-seventeenth centuries. During that later period, the documents more often show a shift from festive performance to ideological spectacle, together with the merging of performance with forms of punishment, both legal and societal.

Author Biography

James Stokes (jstokes@uwsp.edu) is professor of English (emeritus) at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. His two-volume REED: Somerset appeared in 1996, and his two-volume REED: Lincolnshire in 2009. Presently he is working on REED: Suffolk. He has authored numerous articles on medieval and early modern drama, custom, ceremony, and music.