Jacobean playwrights played well with others. Unlike the un-credited collaboration from which Shakespeare mostly likely benefited, paired teams of writers like Middleton and Rowley, Beaumont and Fletcher, and Barksted and Machin were common in the early seventeenth century. Much like contemporary film or television writers, these men were able to unite on projects where there was a clear distribution of labour. They worked at a fevered pace on a product that wasn’t perceived as a revered cultural form so much as ephemeral entertainment constantly required to deliver novelty and excitement to sate its audience. As with Shakespeare’s plays these now-classical Jacobean texts were likely written as something more akin to the modern blockbuster than foreseen as enduring treasures. That’s doesn’t preclude the best (and The Changeling is among the very best) from containing deep, probing plots and characters who speak of universal dilemmas while sugaring the pill with plenty of action and eroticism.
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