Vol. 8 (2019): Beyond Books and Plays: Cultures and Practices of Writing in Early Modern Theatre
Part Two - Case Studies

Acting and Reading Drama: Notes on Florentine sacre rappresentazioni in Print

Paola Ventrone
Laboratorio editoriale OA / Dip. LILSI

Published 2019-03-14

How to Cite

Ventrone, P. (2019). Acting and Reading Drama: Notes on Florentine sacre rappresentazioni in Print. Journal of Early Modern Studies, 8, 69–132. https://doi.org/10.13128/JEMS-2279-7149-24883


The purpose of the article is to investigate the complex link between theatre, as a practice involving a number of people, and the change in the use of dramatic texts occurred at the origins of the Italian printing industry, when dramatic texts were no longer only acted but also read as books. With the invention of printed books, theatre has been transformed from a performative action to a container of memory images fixed through the book illustration. On the one hand, the article investigates the printed tradition of sacre rappresentazioni (‘sacred plays’) in connection with the other religious literary texts published between the end of the fifteenth and the beginning of sixteenth centuries, putting it in relation with the birth of devotional books widely used in Florence during the age of Savonarola. On the other hand, it deals with the problem of illustrations by reconstructing the relationship between faithful people and sacred images before their diffusion was multiplied by the printing industry, and by looking at the real meaning of the link between written texts and woodcuts, in order to understand how the sacra rappresentazione, being a dramatic genre, was conceived when it was transformed into an object for reading.