Shakespeare and Lost Plays
Play • 37 min
Today, the texts of roughly three thousand plays from the great age of Elizabethan theater are lost to us. The plays that remain constitute only a sixth of all of the drama produced during that period. How do we make sense of a swiss-cheese history with more holes than cheese?

The Lost Plays Database tries to fill in those holes. It’s an open-access forum for information about lost plays from England originally written and performed between 1570 and 1642. The database collects the little evidence that remains of the lost plays, like descriptions of performances, lists of titles, receipts, diaries, letters, or fragments of parts.

David McInnis, an Associate Professor at Australia’s University of Melbourne and one of the founders of the Lost Plays Database, has collected some of his discoveries about lost plays, as well as the new theories they have spawned, in a new book, "Shakespeare and Lost Plays." We spoke with McInnis about a few favorite lost plays and how researching them is critical to understanding the works that have survived. David McInnis is interviewed by Barbara Bogaev.

David McInnis is an Associate Professor in English and Theatre Studies, Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne in Australia. His new book, "Shakespeare and Lost Plays," was published by Cambridge University Press in 2021.

From the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast. Published March 30, 2021. © Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved. This podcast episode, “Praising What is Lost,” was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster. Ben Lauer is the web producer. Leonor Fernandez edits our transcripts. We had technical help from Andrew Feliciano at Voice Trax West in Studio City, California.
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