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‘Plays Inside Out’: Theatre, Marketing and Ballads

Professor Tiffany Stern’s May 2022 University of Birmingham inaugural lecture at the Shakespeare Institute.

This talk is on the mutual and complimentary relationship between plays and broadside ballads in Shakespeare’s theatre. Investigating who wrote ballads, who sold them and where, it asks us to rethink the relationship between theatre and retail, performance and print, high and low literature, song and dialogue. Shakespeare and Jonson, it suggests, are just two of the authors who used ballads as strategic cross-marketing – or what, these days, we call product placement.

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