Lost Plays and Other Lost Things: Ways of Being Lost
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In this chapter I discuss the roles of rhetoric and of narrative structure as they guide and influence our efforts to discuss things that don’t exist. I discuss the risk that our narratives about missing things might harden—in the absence of actual data—into positivist or essentialist metanarratives. I note that other things besides playtexts are lost, but that lost playtexts make for a more interesting field of exploration than, for example, lost information about early performances, despite performances being the reason for the texts having been written in the first place. The lives of those stage players who created the performances are also largely lost to us, as are most of the circumstances surrounding those performances. I conclude with an example of my own research, an effort to discover something about an alleged stage player named George Hasell, and offer my results as an exemplum of how the data we find—despite our having found it and thus feeling proprietary about it—may in the end not add up to much. Things may still be lost even after we’ve found them.