Robert Whittington was considered the ultimate authority on rhetoric and we may fairly assume that Mulcaster was aware of him. Here he writes in his Vulgaria in 1520, citing Cicero’s (Tully’s) Orator as his source and instructing the preceptor how to teach children to recite. I’ve redacted it so that it is immediately readable, but have left unfamiliar words in the original script:
“Preceptor. It is a rude manner, a child (have he never so [fylde or sylde] (silver? sweet?) a tongue and pleasant pronunciation) to stand still like an ass; and on the other side (as a carter) to be wandering of eyes, picking or playing the fool with his hand and unstable of foot….Therefore take head the countenance be made conformable to the purpose: now with gravity, now cheerful, now rough, now amenable, shaping meat unto matter (as I may say) like a glove to the hand … Also see that the gesture be comely with seemly and sober moving: sometime of the head, sometime of the hand and foot: and as the cause requires, with all the body … Of this thing whoever please to have more full knowledge, let him look upon Tully’s rhetoric.”
Clearly children were being taught theatre skills in the classroom in 1520!