Upcoming GW MEMSI Events for 2014-2015

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.376  Thursday, 28 August 2014


From:        Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         August 28, 2014 at 9:28:04 AM EDT

Subject:    Upcoming GW MEMSI Events for 2014-2015


Another year means more exciting events from the GW Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute. 


Please join us on Friday, September 5, at 3:00 PM, for Professor Rebecca Bushnell's Dean's Scholars' in Shakespeare Annual Lecture.   The Dean's Scholars in Shakespeare Program is directed by Professor Holly Dugan. This lecture will take place in the Academic Building (Post Hall) of GW's Mount Vernon Campus. 


Professor Rebecca Bushnell is the President of the Shakespeare Association of America and professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of numerous books, including Green Desire: Imagining Early Modern English Gardens (Cornell University Press, 2003) and Tragedy: A Short Introduction (Blackwell, 2005) and the editor of Companion to Tragedy (Blackwell, 2005). 


Her talk is entitled  “What ist’ o’clock?”: Comic and Tragic Temporality in Shakespeare.


How do characters and audience experience time in Shakespeare's plays and why does it matter? This lecture will pursue a general theory of comic and tragic time in performance, in The Comedy of Errors, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth and Antony and Cleopatra. The Dean's Scholars in Shakespeare Annual Lecture is designed for a broad audience.  It is free and open to the public, and it will be followed by a reception.


Information on the free shuttle between Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon campus can be accessed here.Part of the purpose of this event is to welcome the Dean's Scholars in Shakespeare to GW.  Students in this two-year, 16-credit program will be residing in Cole Hall and taking courses on Mount Vernon. The Shakespeare Annual Lecture series features distinguished Shakespearean scholars each year and brings cutting-edge work to GW's campus.



Other MEMSI events to look forward to this year:


Nov 14: Symposium on Monsters, with Kathleen Long Perry (Cornell), Surekha Davies (Western Connecticut State) and Asa Simon Mittman (Chico State) 


Dec 5: Bruce Holsinger reads from his celebrated historical fiction A Burnable Book


March 20: Symposium on "Transition, Scale and Catastrophe" with Stacy Alaimo, Stephanie LeMenager, Steve Mentz and more


April 9-10: "Entangled Trajectories: Integrating European and Native American Histories" at GW and the Library of Congress.


We will also have a few more events along the way, including a works in progress breakfast series. 


Lastly, I would like to take the time to briefly introduce myself. My name is Casey Bieda and I am the MEMSI assistant this year. I look forward to working with MEMSI this upcoming year, as well corresponding with all of you. 



GW Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute


New Article on the Blackfriars Theatre

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.375  Thursday, 28 August 2014


From:        Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         August 28, 2014 at 8:02:26 AM EDT

Subject:    New Article on the Blackfriars Theatre


27 August 2014New Article on the Blackfriars Theatre by Peter C. Herman & his SDSU Class!


Conjectural reconstruction. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.



MoEML’s Pedagogical Partnership Project comes to fruition! This month, we published our first encyclopedia article prepared by a group of students at another institution working under the guest editorship of their onsite instructor.


Professor Peter C. Herman ably guided fourteen upper-level undergraduate students (Ryan Brothers, Shaun Deilke, Amber Dodson, Elaine Flores, Alexandra Gardella, Roy Gillespie, Ashley Gumienny, Mark Jacobo, Karen Kluchonic, Alyssa Lammers, Cassady Lynch, Douglas Payne, Andres Villota, Andrea Wilkum) at San Diego State University through the ins and outs of early modern research in order collectively to produce a nearly 6,000-word scholarly article on the Blackfriars Theatre.


Their excellent new contribution includes details of the repertory, theatrical practices, architecture, and audiences of both the first and second Blackfriars Theatres, as well as information on some of the key figures (including Richard Farrant, James Burbage, and his sons, Richard Burbage and Cuthbert Burbage) involved in both theatres’ history.


MoEML would like to thank Peter Herman and his class for being such intrepid and enthusiastic pilot participants in our pedagogical experiment. We think the results demonstrate just how successfully instructors can enagage their undergraduate students in scholarly research. Furthermore, their work has the wonderful potential to help students elsewhere learn more about early modern London. Indeed, MoEML has received positive feedback from another scholar who has already used this new article on the Blackfriars in her own teaching. Congratulations, Peter and SDSU students!


HERE is the article on The Blackfriars Theatre in The Map of Early Modern London:


Blackfriars Theatre


History of the Blackfriars Precinct

The history of the two Blackfriars theatres is long and fraught with legal and political struggles. The story begins in 1276, when King Edward I gave to the Dominican order five acres of land. To accommodate their buildings, they were allowed to tear down a small section of London’s city wall in order to provide their new precinct a north and north-west boundary (Chambers 475; Stow sig. B5r-B5v). Although the Dominicans first encountered significant opposition to their construction plans by the Dean and Canons of St. Paul’s Cathedral, which was only two hundred yards away, in 1278 they started construction and eventually erected a very large church and what must have been a substantial group of surrounding structuress, no trace of which remains today.


Still, these buildings must have been impressive, as over the course of three hundred years they were often used for important government functions. As John Stow puts it:


This was a large church, and richly furniſhed with Ornaments: wherein diuers Parliaments and other great méetings hath béene holden: namely in the yeare one thouſand foure hundred and fiftie, the twentie eight of Henry the ſixt, a Parliament was begun at Weſtminſter, and adiourned to the Blacke-Fryers in London. In the yeare, 1527. the Emperor Charles the fifth, was lodged there. In the yeare 1524. the fiftéenth of Aprill, a Parliament was begun at the Black-Fryers, wherein was demaunded a ſubſidie of 800000. pound to bee rayſed of goodes and lands [...] In the yeare 1529. Cardinal Campenis the Legat with Cardinall Woolſey, ſate at yͤ ſaid Black Fryers, where before them as Legats and Iudges, was brought in queſtion the Kings marriage with Quéen Kathren as to be vnlawfull, before whom thè King and Quéen were cited and ſummoned to appeare [...] The ſame yeare in the moneth of October, begā a Parliament in the Blacke-Fryers, in the which Cardinall Woolſey was condemned in the priminerie [...] (Stow sig. T2r)


Less spectacularly but equally significantly for theatre history, in 1529 Henry VIII chose the Blackfriars site as the office for the King’s Revels and as a storehouse for props, properties, and costumes (Smith 14).


History of the Blackfriars Precinct

The history of the two Blackfriars theatres is long and fraught with legal and political struggles. The story begins in 1276, when King Edward I gave to the Dominican order five acres of land. To accommodate their buildings, they were allowed to tear down a small section of London’s city wall in order to provide their new precinct a north and north-west boundary (Chambers 475; Stow sig. B5r-B5v). Although the Dominicans first encountered significant opposition to their construction plans by the Dean and Canons of St. Paul’s Cathedral, which was only two hundred yards away, in 1278 they started construction and eventually erected a very large church and what must have been a substantial group of surrounding structuress, no trace of which remains today.


Still, these buildings must have been impressive, as over the course of three hundred years they were often used for important government functions. As John Stow puts it:


This was a large church, and richly furniſhed with Ornaments: wherein diuers Parliaments and other great méetings hath béene holden: namely in the yeare one thouſand foure hundred and fiftie, the twentie eight of Henry the ſixt, a Parliament was begun at Weſtminſter, and adiourned to the Blacke-Fryers in London. In the yeare, 1527. the Emperor Charles the fifth, was lodged there. In the yeare 1524. the fiftéenth of Aprill, a Parliament was begun at the Black-Fryers, wherein was demaunded a ſubſidie of 800000. pound to bee rayſed of goodes and lands [...] In the yeare 1529. Cardinal Campenis the Legat with Cardinall Woolſey, ſate at yͤ ſaid Black Fryers, where before them as Legats and Iudges, was brought in queſtion the Kings marriage with Quéen Kathren as to be vnlawfull, before whom thè King and Quéen were cited and ſummoned to appeare [...] The ſame yeare in the moneth of October, begā a Parliament in the Blacke-Fryers, in the which Cardinall Woolſey was condemned in the priminerie [...] (Stow sig. T2r)


Less spectacularly but equally significantly for theatre history, in 1529 Henry VIII chose the Blackfriars site as the office for the King’s Revels and as a storehouse for props, properties, and costumes (Smith 14).


Theatrical Practices

Lyly’s plays also give us some indication of the kinds of productions the Blackfriars space allowed. Each requires two doors cut through the back wall or prop, use an inner stage that is revealed to the audience by way of a curtain, and the stage had a trap door in the floor of the platform (Smith 138-41). Also the stage area was much smaller than the outdoor theatre, which meant the audience saw a different kind of play:


Smaller playing areas meant less reliance on fencing and acrobatics, stable features of plays by adult troupes. Better acoustics allowed dramatists to call for subtler and more varied musical effects, a distinct advantage for choirboy companies, trained in signing and the playing of instruments [...] The intimacy of a hall playhouse or a banqueting hall at court also encouraged dramatists to write for socially cohesive audiences capable of appreciating subtle allusions to specific individuals, issues and situations and to shared concerns about events the world of the play.(Shapiro 134-35)


The new space, in other words, resulted in new artistic strategies.

Sadly, however, property rights eventually triumphed over dramatic success. In 1584, Sir William More finally succeeded in retaking possession of his property, and he ejected the Children of the Chapel after eight years of playing.


The 12 Year Hiatus

The first Blackfriars theatre closed in 1584 and the second Blackfriars theatre would not open until early 1596. In the interim, the Blackfriars complex was turned to commercial uses. The original Parliament Chamber, the upper rooms that once hosted the Children of the Chapel, first became a pipe office (meaning, a records office) for England’s Exchequer (meaning, the national treasurer), and were later rented to William de Laune, Doctor of Physic (Smith 156, 471). The room located below the playhouse was leased to a William Joyner, who turned it into a fencing school. Rocco Bonetti, one of the best fencing masters of Elizabethan England, subsequently bought the school and operated it until early 1596.


During the period that the Blackfriars space was not used for putting on plays, English drama became a major economic and artistic industry. The theatre became an institution. New playhouses were built (Smith 158), such as the Rose in 1587. However, opposition to drama still continued, and actors were still classed as rogues or sturdy beggars unless they gained the patronage of a great person or peer or the realm. It is no accident that most of the theatres in this period were constructed outside of London’s city limits and so beyond the easy reach of London’s city fathers.7


The Second Blackfriars Theatre

Despite the hiatus in playing, the Blackfriars liberty remained an attractive place for a theatre, and James Burbage, who had built the Theatre (1576), had his eye on it. Burbage was no stranger to controversy, nor was he a man to back down. He was, in the words of a contemporary, a stubburne man (qtd. in Edmond). During the litigation over the Theatre, his once-partner and brother-in-law, John Brayne tried to show Burbage a copy of an old court order about contempt. Burbage dismissed this as A paper which he might wype his tale with (qtd. in Edmond). Despite the obvious obstacles, Burbage clearly sensed the commercial possibilities of another theatre at Blackfriars. As Smith argues, Burbage knew that a playhouse in the Blackfriars precinct would give the company unrivaled advantages and prestige. For the first time, a company of adult actors would have a playhouse within the City walls [...] It would be in one of the most fashionable districts of London (161). Somehow, Burbage convinced Sir William More to sell him the Blackfriars property without letting on what his purpose might be, and on 4 February 1596, the sale was completed (Smith 471-75).


However, things did not go smoothly. Once his wealthy neighbors heard about his project, they sent a petition to the Privy Council asking that the project be shut down:


That whereas one Burbage hath lately bought certain rooms in the same precinct, near adjoining unto the dwelling houses of the right honorable the Lord Chamberlain and the Lord of Hunsdon, which rooms the said Burbage is now altering and meaneth very shortly to convert and turn the same into a common playhouse, which will grow to be a very great annoyance and trouble, not only to all the noblemen and gentlemen thereabout inhabiting, but also a general inconvenience to all the inhabitants of the same precinct, both by reason for the great resort and gathering together of all manner of vagrant and lewd persons that, under color of resorting to the plays, will come thither and work all manner of mischief, and also to the great pestering and filling up of the same precinct, if it should please God to send any visitation of sickness as heretofore hath been, for that the same precinct is already grown very populous; and besides that the same playhouse is so near the church that the noise of the rums and trumpets will greatly disturb and hinder both the ministers and parishioners in time of divine service and sermons. (transcribed in Smith 480)


The petition also describes how actors, banished by the Lord Mayor from playing within the City (explaining why all the other theatres were situated outside London’s authority), now think to plant themselves in liberties (transcribed in Smith 480). The petitioners then asked the Council to take order that the same rooms may be converted to some other use, and that no playhouse may be used or kept there (Smith 480-81). The Privy Council agreed and promptly ordered that the property not be used for a common playhouse.


After the Privy Council’s order, it seemed certain that there would be no further theatrical performances in the Blackfriars liberty. Burbage, who went to his grave in 1597, died probably thinking that his project had entirely miscarried and that he bequeathed his son Richard, nothing but debt—Burbage gave his other son, Cuthbert, his lease on the Theatre, which had its own legal problems (Smith 173). Richard, however, had a brilliant idea. Seizing on the phrase common playhouse, he realized that the petitioners had in mind an adult company, such as those presently inhabiting The Theatre, The Swan, and The Red Bull. Richard therefore decided to turn the property into a private theatre: an indoor theatre featuring a company of children. So he turned to the same Henry Evans who had briefly managed Farrant’s company and in 1600, rented the hall to him for a period of twenty-one years (Smith 175).


Architecture and Audiences

While the second Blackfriars theatre may have had the same manager as the first, they would present a very different type of drama in a significantly reconfigured space. Burbage installed his theatre in what once was the Parliament chamber, otherwise known as the Upper Frater. While there are no primary source documents telling us what exactly the theatre looked like, we can safely assume that this space was beautiful. According to the lease and the various documents produced by subsequent litigation, the theatre was also very small: 66 feet long 46 feet wide, considerably less than the outdoor, public stages (Smith 165; Gurr 193). The theatre space itself was significantly altered from the first Blackfriars theatre. The stage had to be higher to accommodate the apparatus used in celestial flights (Smith 167). In addition, the floor had two trap doors (the original had only one). However, the most important change concerned the seating. Whereas the audience in the first theatre sat on benches, the audience for the second Blackfriars theatre had a variety of options. The theatre’s patrons could, if they chose and if they could afford it, sit on the stage itself: The tiring-house provided separate and privileged access for up to fifteen gallants, who pad an extra sixpence for a stool so that they could view the play from the stage itself (Gurr 194). Numerous plays, especially Francis Beaumont’s The Knight of the Burning Pestle (written 1607; published 1613) testify to how the audience and the players seemed to mingle on the stage, with the gallants as much the object of the audience’s appreciation as the play itself. In addition, Burbage created at least two, possibly three, ranges of galleries, which curbed around the auditorium. The audience was literally wrapped around the stage (Gurr 195).


Admission prices at Blackfriars started at sixpence for entry to the topmost gallery. One more shilling purchased a space on a bench in the pit, and a seat on the stage cost about two shillings (Gurr 195; Aaron 88). The prices at the Globe, on the other hand, started at a penny, making the least expensive ticket at Blackfriars six times the price. The higher prices at Blackfriars helped make up for the smaller audience—the smaller theatre accommodated approximately 500 patrons, as opposed to the Globe’s 2000 (Aaron 88)—and they helped keep out the groundlings, thus maintaining the Blackfriar’s elite reputation. Also, the prices reversed the convention for the public theatres, where the audience nearest the stage paid the least.


Playing Style

Just as with the first Blackfriars theatre, the intimacy of the space required a different style of playing and theatrical presentation. Whereas outdoor theatres, such as the Globe, could use loud instruments, such as drums and trumpets, the Blackfriars stage called for more subtle, quieter instruments, such as cornets or hautboys, the ancestor of the oboe (Gurr 192). At the Globe, plays were continuous, but at the Blackfriars, the Children and later the The King’s Men used intermissions to separate the acts (Smith 226-27). The more enclosed space also called for subtler acting requiring new delicacies of expression (Smith 249). But perhaps most importantly, the indoor theatre required candles for lighting, not sunshine (more on this below).


The Children of the Chapel

The theatre company that occupied the second Blackfriars theatre, the Children of the Chapel, was comprised, as the name says, of children, not adults, and the manner by which the company acquired its actors still shocks the conscience. In 1597, Queen Elizabeth issued a memorandum granting Nathaniel Giles the right to impress children, meaning, he was authorized to take such and so many children as he or his sufficient deputy shall think meet [any place] with this our realm of England, whatsoever they be (Smith 482). Giles had the right, in other words, to legally kidnap any child he wanted for his company.8


But on 13 December 1600, Giles and Henry Evans took the wrong child. Thomas Clifton, son of the influential gentleman, Henry Clifton (Smith 182) was snatched while on his way to school and the outraged father bitterly complained to the Privy Council:


they, the said confederates,9 devised, conspired, and concluded for their own corrupt gain and lucre, to erect, set up, furnish to maintain a playhouse or place in the Blackfriars; and to the end they might the better their furnish their said plays and interludes with children whom they thought most fittest to act and furnish the said plays, they, the said confederates [...] most wrongfully, unduly and unjustly taken divers and several children from divers and sundry schools of learning and other places, and apprentices to men of trade from their masters [...] against the wills of the said children, their parents, tutors, masters and governors, and to the no small grief and oppressions [of] your Majesty’s true and faithful subjects.(Smith 484-85)


Henry Clifton managed to free his son by getting a warrant from Sir John Fortescue, a very high-ranking member of the Privy Council. Clifton then sued the Children of the Chapel. While the record of the court’s decision has been lost, a subsequent deposition on an unrelated matter ten years later revealed that Evans was censured by the right honorable court of Star Chamber for his unorderly carriage and behavior in taking up gentlemen’s children against their wills (qtd. in Smith 184). But other than this slap on the wrist, clearly the practice continued, and the young Clifton’s return to his family was the exception rather than rule.



The plays presented at the second Blackfriars theatre were enormously popular. One reason might be that the Children employed some of the finest playwrights in the land, such as Ben Jonson, John Marston, Thomas Middleton, and George Chapman. Another reason might be the plays themselves. Almost every drama acted by the Children between 1600-1608 satirized or ridiculed the government, the Court, and the King himself (Smith 191). The fact that these audacious productions were acted by children only added to the Blackfriars’ popularity, even making them serious rivals of adult companies. The idea behind the controversial plays was that satire bred sensationalism, and sensationalism attracted crowds (Smith 191). Essentially, the farther they crossed the line, the more popular, and even notorious, they became, and the more money the boys made for their managers.


The Children’s management may have thought that the age of the actors protected them from retribution. Thomas Heywood, in his Apology for Actors (1608), condemns the inveighing against the state, the court, the law, the city, put into the mouths of child-actors, assuming that their juniority to be a privilege for any railing, be it never so violent (qtd. in Smith 192). While the actors may have enjoyed a certain immunity, the writers did not. For writing Philotas (1604), a play based on the career of Robert Devereaux, Earl of Essex, who lost his head for leading a failed rebellion against Elizabeth in 1601, Samuel Daniel was hauled before the Privy Council, where he had to disclaim any sympathy for the discredited Earl. Still, Philotas appeared in print the following year. In 1605, Eastward Ho!10, written by Ben Jonson, George Chapman, and John Marston, ridiculed the Scottish countrymen that had followed King James to London, and, in consequence, Jonson and Chapman were jailed and at risk of having their noses slit and their ears cropped. Marston, who was said by his collaborators to have been the principal offender, managed to escape punishment by going into hiding (Smith 192). After this incident, the Children of the Queen’s Revels did not appear in court again. John Day’s The Isle of Gulls (1606), which jabbed at court scandals, led James to order the playhouse closed, and the Queen to withdraw her patronage. The Children were thereafter simply dubbed the Children of the Revels, or the Children of Blackfriars.


After the incident, the troupe found itself under the management of Robert Keysar, and managed to stay out of trouble until March 1608, when they offended for the final time with George Chapman’s The Conspiracy and the Tragedy of Charles, Duke of Byron. The play’s mockery of the French king’s domestic affairs made James so angry that he ordered the imprisonment of some of the players, as well as the disbanding of the troupe, and the closing of the playhouse (Smith 193). This action put an end to the tenure of child actors at Blackfriars. Henry Evans ceded the lease to Richard Burbage, who took over the playhouse and began plans to use the Blackfriars theatre for his company, now the The King’s Men.


The King’s Men

After Elizabeth’s death in 1603, James VI of Scotland ascended the throne, becoming King James I of England. Two months later, he issued a commission stating these our servants, Lawrence Fletcher, William Shakespeare, Richard Burbage, Augustine Phillips, John Heminges, Henry Condell, William Sly, Robert Armin, Richard Crowley, and the best of their associates’ to be known thereafter as the The King’s Men (Smith 244). Despite the earlier opposition, occasionally renewed but never successfully, Burbage decided to use the Blackfriars theatre as an indoor home for the The King’s Men. Burbage took over the playhouse in 1608, but did not open it for business until 1610. One reason for the delay might have been the condition of the theatre itself. The Children of the Revels might have been highly successful in producing political satires, but they did nothing to maintain the building. According to a deposition taken in one of the endless lawsuits over the property, the theatre and surrounding structures were then dilapidated in various parts and unrepaired (transcribed in Smith 517). Another reason might be an outbreak of the plague in 1608, which closed all the theatres as a means of containing the disease.


Starting in 1610, the The King’s Men began a pattern that would last until the company’s dissolution. They would use the Globe during the summer months, and move to Blackfriars from about the middle of October through to May. Even though Blackfriars was significantly smaller than the Globe, records show that playing for London’s elite—indeed, the audience was sufficiently elevated that Charles I’s wife, Queen Henrietta Maria, attended performances in 1632, 1634, 1636, and 1638—was much more profitable. According to gate receipts for the years 1628-1633, the earning capacity of Blackfriars was nearly two and a half times as great as that of the Globe (Smith 263; see also Aaron 164-69).


Traffic Problems

Success, however, brought its own difficulties. In 1619, the residents of the Blackfriars precinct lodged a complaint by divers honorable persons to the Lord Mayor of London over traffic problems:

We desire your Lordship and your brethren to help us to some remedy therein, that we may go to our houses in safety and enjoy the benefit of the streets without apparent danger, which now, we assure your Lordship, neither we that are inhabitants, nor any other of his Majesty’s subjects having occasion that way, either by land or water, can do; for such is the unruliness of some of the resorters to that house, and of coaches, horses and people of all sorts gathered together by that occasion in those narrow and crooked streets, that many hurts have heretofore been thereby done, and [we] fear it will at some time or other hereafter procure much more, if it be not by your wisdoms prevented.(transcribed in Smith 491)


London’s city fathers were sympathetic, and their order closing the theatre goes into even more detail than the original complaint:

There is daily so great resort of people, and so great multitude of coaches, whereof many are hackney coaches bringing people of all sorts, that sometimes all their streets cannot contain them, that they endanger one the other, break down stalls, throw down men’s goods from their shops, hinder the passage of the inhabitants there to and from their houses, let prevent] the bringing in of their necessary provisions , that the tradesmen and shopkeepers cannot utter their wares, nor the passengers go to the common water stairs without danger of their lives and limbs, whereby many times quarrels and effusion of blood hath followed, and the minister and people disturbed at the administration of the sacrament of baptism and public prayers in the afternoons.(transcribed in Smith 493)


Even so, the order to close the Blackfriars theatre was ignored. The same complaint would be registered in 1633, with the same result. Finally, the Privy Council issued an order on the matter, but, instead of shutting down the theatre, they decided to try to control traffic: as many coaches as may stand within the Blackfriars Gate may enter and stay there, or return thither at the end of the play (transcribed in Smith 499). On the success of this order, the archives are silent.


Playgoer Behaviour

Uproars and the potential for effusion of blood were not restricted to the streets outside the theatre. One notable skirmish occurred in 1632 between Lord Thurles, soon to become Earl of Ormond, who had spent a minimum of two shillings for a place on the stage, and Captain Charles Essex, accompanied by the wife of the Earl of Essex, who paid at least half-a-crown to sit in one of the boxes flanking the stage. The following episode occurred because Lord Thurles decided to stand, not sit on a stool, and thus blocked Essex’s view:


Captain Essex told his lord, they had payd for their places as well as hee, and therefore intreated him not to deprive them of the benefit of it. Whereupon the lord stood up yet higher and hindred more their sight. Then Capt. Essex with his hand putt him a little by. The lord then drewe his sword and ran full butt at him, though hee missed him, and might have slaine the Countesse as well as him.(qtd. in Berry 165)


The Captain complained to the Star Chamber. Remarkably, even though he was a professional soldier and Lord Thurles an aristocrat, the court found for the plaintiff, and Lord Thurles had to verbally apologize to Captain Essex (Berry 166).



Despite the occasional quarrel within the theatre, traffic congestion without, and the ongoing hostility of London’s authorities, the The King’s Men remained the pre-eminent theatre company in England. The Database of Early English Playbooks (DEEP) records over one hundred printed plays that advertized their performance at the Blackfriars theatre. The repertory included first performances of plays by the leading playwrights of the late Jacobean and Caroline era, such as Francis Beaumont, John Marston, John Fletcher, and William Davenant as well as revivals of Shakespeare’s Othello (1622, 1630), The Taming of the Shrew (1631), Love’s Labours Lost (1631), John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi (1623), and even the play that brought an end to the Children of the Revels, George Chapman’s The Conspiracy and Tragedy of Charles Duke of Byron (1625). Scholars today are divided on whether the The King’s Men created a separate repertory for the Globe and the Blackfriars based on the class and taste of each clientele, the assumption being that the Globe, attracting a lower class audience, would be better suited to older, cruder plays whereas the more sophisticated audience at the Blackfriars would require more complex plays (Knutson 54-55).


However, there is incontrovertible evidence that at least some plays were performed at both venues. The title page of the 1622 Othello states that the play hath beene diverse times acted at the Globe and at the Blackfriars, and the title page of the 1623 Duchess of Malfi says that the play was presented Privately at the Blackfriars and publiquely at the Globe. Yet while the The King’s Men did not seem to distinguish in terms of which plays they performed at which theatre, the style of acting must have been very different. One imagines that Iago’s statement I hate the Moor (Othello 1.3.717) would be delivered loudly at the Globe. At the Blackfriars, it could be delivered in almost a stage whisper, thus giving the line much more venom and force (Edelstein). Similarly, Ferdinand’s exclamation in The Duchess of Malfi, Damne her, that body of hers, / While that my blood ran pure in’t, was more worth / Then, that which thou wouldſt comfort, (call’d a ſoule) might be played as a rant at the Globe (sig. I3r). The intimate space at the Blackfriars allowed for the actor to express much more psychological depth.



For all their success, the The King’s Men could not avoid the political currents of the English Revolution, and on 2 September 1642, the Blackfriars theatre was closed and the company dispersed following the ordinance adopted by the House of Commons and the House of Lords:


Whereas the distressed Estate of Ireland, steeped in her own Blood, and the distracted Estate of England, threatned with a Cloud of Blood, by a Civil Warre, call for all possible means to appease and avert the Wrath of God appearing in these Judgements; amongst which, Fasting and Prayer having bin often tried to be very effectuall, have bin lately, and are still enjoyed; and whereas publike Sports doe not well agree with publike Calamities, nor publike Stage-plays with the Seasons of Humiliation, this being an Exercise of sad and pious solemnity, and the other being Spectacles of pleasure, too commonly expressing lacivious Mirth and Levitie; It is therefore thought fit, and Ordeined by the Lords and Commons in this Parliament Assembled, that while these sad Causes and set times of Humiliation doe continue, publike State-Playes shall cease, and bee forborne.(qtd. in Smith 283)


In 1650, the The King’s Men petitioned Parliament for their right to play, pleading that they had long suffered in extreme want, being prohibited the use of their qualitie of Acting, in which they were trained up from their childhood, whereby they are uncapable of any other way to get subsistence, and are now fallen into such lamentable povertie, that they know not how to provide food for themselves, their wives and children (qtd. in Smith 285-87). This appeal was denied. On 6 August 1655, the Blackfriars theatre was torn down (Smith 286), and the Great Fire of London in 1666 erased the very last traces of this once grand playhouse (Smith 286).


Contemporary Reconstructions

The recent interest in recovering the original conditions of playing in Shakespeare’s time has led to at least one re-creation of the Blackfriars stage in America and to the re-creation of an indoor Jacobean theatre, not unlike Blackfriars theatre, in the United Kingdom. In 2001, the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Virginia opened up the 300-seat Blackfriars Playhouse. On odd-numbered years, the ASC sponsors a conference on the Blackfriars theatre that brings in scholars from around the world. In 2014, the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, named after the film director whose vision led to the rebuilding of the Globe Theatre, opened on the Bankside in the same complex as the reconstructed Globe. According to Farah Karim-Cooper, it is a more of an archetype of an indoor early modern playhouse rather than an exact replica of the Blackfriars theatre (Gurr and Karim-Cooper). The Wanamaker Theatre uses candles instead of electric lights. One of the authors of this article attended a performance of The Duchess of Malfi, and she reports that candelabras are lowered as the start of the performance nears, and each individual candle is carefully lit. During the play, the candelabras are lowered and raised during and between scenes, acting as theatrical props. This action has to be done very carefully, otherwise the candles would be snuffed out. A review of this performance notes the role and risk of using candles:


In the event, the candles, in sconces on the pillars and in hanging candelabra as well as carried by individuals, are less consistently striking as illumination than for their effect on pace. Candles slow the production down, and candelabra lowered to waist height constrict the already small stage to some paths along the front and sides. (Smith)


The soft, muted light influenced the mood of a scene, building tension and drama as the shadows of flames danced against backdrops and the faces of actors and audience members alike.


Additional Information from MoEML

For another essay on the Blackfriars theatre, a modern map marking the site where the it once stood, and a walking tour that will take you to the site, visit the Shakespearean London Theatres (ShaLT) pages for the first Blackfriars Theatre and the second Blackfriars Theatre.



Windsor Chapel refers to St George’s Chapel in Windsor. Richard Farrant was Master of the Windsor Chapel choir from 1564 onwards. (KMF)


Conjectural dates of first performance from Corrigan 7. (PCH)


Publication dates from DEEP. (PCH)


Corrigan marks this entry in his list with an asterisk, which indicates an uncertain ascription of play to playhouse: Either the date of the play is in serious question or the company’s ownership is uncertain. The * means likely (but there is some doubt) (Corrigan 5). (JJ)


Corrigan marks this entry in his list with an asterisk, which indicates an uncertain ascription of play to playhouse: Either the date of the play is in serious question or the company’s ownership is uncertain. The * means likely (but there is some doubt) (Corrigan 5). (JJ)


Corrigan marks this entry in his list with an asterisk, which indicates an uncertain ascription of play to playhouse: Either the date of the play is in serious question or the company’s ownership is uncertain. The * means likely (but there is some doubt) (Corrigan 5). Gurr gives the date as 1576-1580 (Gurr 298). Part of the problem in dating this play and linking it to a specific playhouse is the theory that the extant play is a post-Tamburlaine revision or adaptation of an earlier play about Cyrus by Richard Farrant. Critics will date the play to the 1590s if they believe it to be later than Tamburlaine, to the 1580s if they believe it to predate Tamburlaine, and to ca. 1578 if they believe it to be by Farrant, who died in 1580. See Chambers 3.311-12 and subsequent editions and articles by James P. Brawner, Irving Ribner, and G.K. Hunter. (JJ)


It is not true that the theatres and the areas known as the liberties were completely lawless and beyond the reach of authority. For example, London’s mayor and the Privy Council could, and did, shut down the theatres due to outbreaks of plague. But at the same time, early modern documents regularly distinguish between the city and the liberties. See Kozusko for an exceptionally intelligent treatment of liberties and the early modern theatre. (PCH)


James Burbage is not mentioned in either Elizabeth’s commission allowing Nathaniel Giles to impress children or in Henry Clifton’s complaint. But as stealing talented children was evidently a common practice, it is hard to imagine that he either did not know or disapproved of the practice. (PCH)


The confederates are Giles, Evans, James Robinson “and others yet” (Smith 484). (PCH)


See MoEML’s TEI-encoded transcription of Eastward Ho! (JT)



Aaron, Melissa. Global Economics: A History of the Theatre Business, the Chamberlain’s / King’s Men, and Their Plays, 1599-1642. Newark, DE: U of Delaware P, 2005. Print.


Adams, Joseph Quincy. The Conventual Buildings of Blackfriars, London, and the Playhouses Constructed Therein. Studies in Philology 14.2 (1917): 64-87. Print.


Berry, Herbert. The Stage and Boxes at Blackfriars. Studies in Philology 63.2 (1966): 163-86. Print. Web. Subscr. JSTOR.


Chambers, E.K. The Elizabethan Stage. 4 vols. Oxford: Clarendon, 1923. Print.


Corrigan, Brian Jay. The Repertory of the London Playhouse Part II: The Children’s Houses St. Paul’s, First and Second Blackfriars, Whitefriars. Discoveries 20.1 (2003): 5-8. Web. Subscr. EBSCOhost.


DEEP: Database of Early English Playbooks. Ed. Alan B. Farmer and Zachary Lesser. Web.


Edelstein, Barry. Interview. San Diego State University. 21 April 2014.

Edmond, Mary. Burbage, James (c.1531–1597). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. H.C.G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2004. Web. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/3950.


Egan, Gabriel, ed. Shakespearean London Theatres. De Montfort University and Victoria & Albert Museum. Web. Open.


Gosson, Stephen. Plays Confuted in Five Actions. London, 1582. STC 12095. Web. Subscr. EEBO.


Gurr, Andrew, and Farah Karim-Cooper, eds. Moving Shakespeare Indoors: Performance and Repertoire in the Jacobean Playhouse. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014. Print.


Gurr, Andrew. The Shakespearean Stage 1574-1642. 3rd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1992. Print.


Gurr, Andrew. The Shakespearean Stage 1574-1642. 4th ed. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2009. Print.


Knutson, Roslyn. What If There Wasn’t a ‘Blackfriars Repertory?’ Inside Shakespeare: Essays on the Blackfriars Stage. Ed. Paul Menzer. Selinsgrove: Susquehanna UP, 2006. 54-60. Print.


Kozusko, Matt. Taking Liberties. Early Theatre 9.1 (2006): 37-60. Web. Open.


Lyly, John. Campase. London, 1584. STC 17048a. Web. Subscr. EEBO.


Lyly, John. Sapho and Phao. London, 1584. STC 17086. Web. Subscr. EEBO.


Shakespeare, William. Othello. Internet Shakespeare Editions. 30 November 2013. Web. Open.


Shapiro, Michael. Early (Pre-1590) Boy Companies and their Acting Venues. The Oxford Handbook to Early Modern Theatre. Ed. Richard Dutton. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009. 120-35. Print.


Smith, Emma. Review: Mirth that Fills the Veins with Blood. Times Literary Supplement. 5 March 2014. Web. Subscr. Times Literary Supplement.


Smith, Irwin. Shakespeare’s Blackfriars Playhouse: Its History and Its Design. New York: New York UP, 1964. Print.


Stow, John. A SVRVAY OF LONDON. Contayning the Originall, Antiquity, Increase, Moderne estate, and description of that Citie, written in the yeare 1598. by Iohn Stow Citizen of London. Also an Apologie (or defence) against the opinion of some men, concerning that Citie, the greatnesse thereof. With an Appendix, containing in Latine, Libellum de situ & nobilitate Londini: written by William Fitzstephen, in the raigne of Henry the second. Ed. Janelle Jenstad, Kim McLean-Fiander, and Nathan Phillips. MoEML. Transc. Web. Forthcoming. [Contact us if you would like to see our draft.]


Webster, John. The Tragedy of the Dutcheſſe of Malfy. London: Nicholas Okes, 1623. STC 25176. Web. Subscr. EEBO.


Haider Movie Trailer (Official)

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.370  Tuesday, 26 August 2014


From:        Hardy Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:        August 26, 2014 at 7:38:34 AM EDT

Subject:    Haider Movie Trailer (Official) 


You can view the Official Trailer for Bhardwaj’s Haider, an adaptation of Hamlet:


Vishal Bhardwaj’s adaptation of William Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’, Haider - a young man returns home to Kashmir on receiving news of his father’s disappearance. Not only does he learn that security forces have detained his father for harboring militants, but that his mother is in a relationship with his very own uncle. Intense drama follows between mother and son as both struggle to come to terms with news of his father’s death. Soon Haider learns that his uncle is responsible for the gruesome murder, what follows is his journey to avenge his father’s death.

Haider key cast includes, Shahid Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor, Kay Kay Menon, Tabu, Irrfan and is directed by Vishal Bharadwaj. The film releases on Oct. 2, 2014.


Some of you may recall that I wrote about Vishal Bharadwaj other two Shakespearean adaptations, Maqbool (2003: Macbeth) and Omkara (2006: Othello) in 2011:


Last Friday (SHK 22.0189), I announced that I had just received two Bollywood adaptations of Shakespeare plays both directed by Vishal Bhardwaj, which had been recommended to me. I have since viewed them. I was thoroughly impressed by them both, finding them completely imbedded in their cultures and suggesting but not bending unnaturally the plots to evoke the originals.


Maqbool (2003) is set in contemporary Mumbai (Bombay). Maqbool (Irfan Khan) is loyal henchman to Jahangir Khan, “Abbaji” (Pankaj Kapoor), a prominent head of a criminal organization in Mumbai. Jahangir Khan’s mistress, Nimmi (Tabu), has an affair with Maqbool and encourages him to kill Jahangir Khan and take over the organization lest it come under the control of his best friend Kaka’s (Piyush Mishra) son, Guddu (Ajay Gehi), who plans to marry Jahangir Khan’s only daughter. Pandit (Om Puri) and Purohit (Naseeruddin Shah), two corrupt policemen, one of whom is an astrologer, represent the weird sisters and a metaphoric representation of the sea is the story’s Birnam Wood.


Omkara (2006): Omkara 'Omi' Shukla (Ajay Devgan), a so-called half-caste, illegitimate son of a high-cast man and a low-cast woman with whom he has an affair, is a baahubali, an enforcer (in subtitles General) for the politician Bhaisaab. Dolly (Kareena Kapoor), the daughter of the advocate Raghunath Mishra (Kamal Tiwari) runs off with Omi, abandoning her own wedding to Rajan, her father’s choice. Bhaisaab is elected to parliament and appoints Omi as a candidate for local election to his former position. Omi in turn selects Keshav 'Kesu Firangi' Upadhyay (Vivek Oberoi), a college-educated philander who is popular with the electorate, rather than his long-serving second in command and hit man Ishwar 'Langda' Tyagi (Saif Ali Khan) who is married to his sister Indu (Konkona Sen Sharma). At Omi’s and Dolly’s engagement, Langda shames Kesu into getting drunk and the enraged Omi strips Kesu of his position. Langda then insinuates to Omi that college friends Kesu and Dolly are having an affair producing a kamarbandh, a jeweled wedding belt that he had stolen and given to Kesu to give to his mistress Billo Chamanbahar (Bipasha Basu) as ocular proof. Havoc ensues.


Orson Welles - Mercury Theater - 1938 Recordings, including Julius Caesar and 4-Minute Video of Voodoo Macbeth

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.369  Tuesday, 26 August 2014


From:        Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         August 26, 2014 at 7:27:45 AM EDT

Subject:    Orson Welles - Mercury Theater - 1938 Recordings, including Julius Caesar and 4-Minute Video of Voodoo Macbeth


I learned from Will Sutton of the availability of audio recordings of the Mercury Theater, which may be downloaded or streamed from the Internet Archive:


These include Julius Caesar.


1914 Film from Folger Shakespeare Theater Digital Image Collection 


Mercury Theater’s radio programmes - 17 from 1938 (July-November) and 2 from 1946

BONUS: 1988 Special Programme - Mercury Theater Remembered with appearances and voices of those who worked in those programmes and still remember how Welles used to work.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In 1937, Welles and the Mercury company earned a reputation for their inventive adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar set in contemporary Fascist Italy. They moved on to productions of The Shoemaker’s Holiday, Heartbreak House, Too Much Johnson and Danton’s Death in 1938. In 1939 Five Kings was produced along with The Green Goddess. The last theatrical production of the company was Native Son in 1941. 


Welles had already worked extensively in radio drama, playing the title character in The Shadow for a year and directing a seven-part adaptation of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, both for the Mutual Broadcasting System. In 1938, he was offered a chance to direct his own weekly, hour-long radio series, initially promoted as First Person Singular. However, this title was never announced on the air. Radio Guide initially mentioned the series’ debut as Mercury Theatre before later listing it as The Mercury Theatre on the Air.

Welles insisted his Mercury company — actors and crew — be involved in the radio series. This was an unprecedented and expensive request, especially for one so young as Welles. Most episodes dramatized works of classic and contemporary literature. It remains perhaps the most highly regarded radio drama anthology series ever broadcast, most likely due to the creativity of Orson Welles.


The Mercury Theatre on the Air was an hour-long dramatic radio program which began in the summer of 1938 on the CBS radio network. Paul Holler, writing in Critique, described the program’s origin: Radio, with its power to excite the imagination and actually involve the audience in the creative process, had huge potential as a medium for serious drama. It seemed inevitable that the day would come when this medium, which had made Orson Welles a household name across the country, would become a part of his serious theater ambitions. That day came in 1938.

It was in that year that CBS, remembering Welles’ work on Les Misérables the year before, approached him and Houseman about a series of radio dramas for its summer schedule. The idea was conceived as a series of narratives under the title First Person Singular. But the series would be best remembered by the name it assumed with its second production, The Mercury Theatre on the Air.

As with Les Misérables the previous year, Welles was given complete creative control by CBS over the new series. The choices he made in developing the series were informed by what he had learned in previous years in other radio dramas. Chief among those choices was to create dramas specifically for the radio and not to simply adapt dramas in production at the Mercury Theatre for broadcast. In close collaboration with John Houseman and other writers, Welles wrote, directed and performed in the productions. The end result was a series of dramas based on literary, rather than dramatic, works. There were exceptions, most notably Our Town by Welles’ early mentor Thornton Wilder. But it was clear to Welles and Houseman that the medium of radio suited the telling of a story far better than the dramatization of it. As a result, some of the most memorable Mercury Theatre on the Air productions were adaptations of great novels. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, A Tale of Two Cities, The Magnificent Ambersons, Heart of Darkness and other major literary works were offered to radio audiences during the Mercury Theatre on the Air’s run. 


Houseman wrote the early scripts for the series, turning the job over to Howard Koch at the beginning of October. Music for the program was conducted by Bernard Herrmann. Their first radio production was Bram Stoker’s Dracula, with Welles playing both Count Dracula and Doctor Seward. Other adaptations included Treasure Island, The Thirty-Nine Steps, The Man Who Was Thursday and The Count of Monte Cristo.

Originally scheduled for nine weeks, the network extended the run into the autumn, moving the show from its Monday night slot, where it was the summer substitute for the Lux Radio Theater, to a Sunday night slot opposite Edgar Bergen’s popular variety show.

The early dramas in the series were praised by critics, but ratings were low. A single broadcast changed the program’s ratings: the October 30, 1938 adaptation of H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds.


Possibly thousands of listeners thought Martians were in fact invading the earth, due to the faux-news quality of most of the broadcast. Significant publicity was generated, and The Mercury Theatre on the Air quickly became one of radio’s top-rated shows.

The War of the Worlds notoriety had a welcome side effect of netting the show the sponsorship of Campbell’s Soup, guaranteeing its survival for a period, and beginning on December 9, 1938, the show was retitled The Campbell Playhouse. The company moved to Hollywood for their second season, and continued briefly after Welles’ final performance in March 1940. Welles revived the Mercury Theatre title for a short series in the summer of 1946.

Welles used the banner “Mercury Productions” on many of his films, and several of the actors from his Mercury Theatre Company appeared in them, notably in Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons and Macbeth.


[ . . . ]


After posting Will’s link to The Mercury Theater recordings on Facebook,  I learned from Bob Sawyer of a 4-minute video of the Voodoo Macbeth


Orson Welles & the Federal Theatre Project’s 1936 “Voodoo” Macbeth (with Annotations)



Globe King Lear at Folger Library and Others

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.368  Tuesday, 26 August 2014


From:        Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         August 26, 2014 at 10:12:12 AM EDT

Subject:    Globe King Lear at Folger Library and Others


[Editor’s Note: The final performance I saw at The Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London was King Lear with Joseph Marcell as Lear. This was an eight-actor Lear (two supernumeraries) with an ingenious doubling technique. At the back of the stage was a rack with various costumes hanging from it. As the as an actor changed roles, he or she would doff a different costume from the rack. I though it was highly effective. I also thought Marcell was adept at displaying the various personality changes that Lear goes through during the play. The production was only at the Globe for a handful of performances before going on tour.This  Shakespeare’s Globe production of “King Lear” is coming to Folger Theatre in Washington, D.C. from September 5 -21. It also plays Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond N. Yorkshire, 27-30 August; NYU Skirball, New York, 30 September - 12 October; Arts Emerson, Boston, 15-23 October; Lensic Performing Arts Center, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 30 October; The Broad Stage, Santa Monica, 4-16 November; Calpoly Arts, San Luis Obispo,18 November; University of California, Santa Barbara, November 21; The Moore Theatre, Seattle, 25 & 26 November; Arts Centre, Arcata, CA, 30 November. I highly recommend it. –Hardy]

Here a ‘Lear,’ There a ‘Lear’

By Peter Marks 

August 23


All over the place, foolish fond old monarchs are dropping like anguished flies. In Chicago and New York, in London and Toronto and Washington, actors in shredded costumes are raging on tempest-tossed sets as stories unfold around them of woebegone fathers and callous children and realms ankle deep in stage blood.


The theater world, in short, is having a “King Lear” moment — well, actually, a whole bunch of “King Lear” moments. The supply of tragic, fulminating royals, in fact, appears inexhaustible. On the heels of the recent Lears of Derek Jacobi and Frank Langella, Stacy Keach and Kevin Kline, Ian McKellen and Michael Pennington, other Lears line up to hit their marks. Simon Russell Beale just completed a regal tour of duty, in a “Lear” at Britain’s National Theatre. John Lithgow did the same this month in New York’s Central Park. With other Lears on the boards of late from Oregon to Ontario, and still others on the near horizon, no one should be surprised to discover Washington’s Folger Theatre is joining the somber processional, with a “King Lear” arriving from Shakespeare’s Globe in London that begins performances Sept. 5.


The Globe “Lear,” featuring Joseph Marcell as the ruler who, in relinquishing his kingdom, loses his sanity and ultimately his life, will be the fifth major staging of the tragedy in this region in the last nine years — more evidence of just how intense is the fascination these days with what is to many Shakespeare’s bleakest play. Except for the comparatively more exuberant “Hamlet,” there have been more productions of “Lear” here during this period than of any other play or musical. And one is compelled to consider why.


This is not, of course, to cast aspersions on the piece itself, as sprawling and enigmatic as any in the canon: The nature of Lear’s madness is a transfixing, sleep-disturbing riddle for the ages. But why is it that “King Lear,” a play so resistant to our culture’s knee-jerk predilections for entertaining uplift and easy explanations, is also one to which we return, not just in rare instances, but again and again? And one that by dint of its challenges — exhausting length, an unwieldy knitting of parallel plots — theater companies find especially hard to get right.


I ask as one who, having seen two shaky “Lears” already this summer, the stagings with Beale in London and Lithgow in New York, approaches each new incarnation with both curiosity and a residual trepidation. I have lost count of the number of “Lears” I’ve attended, going back to an old-school production in the mid-1970s, starring the late Morris Carnovsky, at the now-defunct American Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, Conn. The cumulative experience over all these occasions has been discouraging; the play comes together truly meaningfully on only the most remarkable of evenings. It takes some extraordinary level of skill and alchemy to wrangle the disparate, discordant parts of the play, channeled most crucially through an actor who is capable of integrating the various aspects of Lear — prideful king, wounded madman, heartbroken victim — into a captivating whole.


Awful goings hence and comings hither’


Perhaps a factor in its ubiquity is a belief that “Lear” is supposed to be good for you, that audiences see it as a test for them as well as the actors — the theater’s equivalent of a decathlon. A case can certainly be made for it as the jewel in an accomplished actor’s crown, the ultimate showcase for technical and interpretive abilities honed over a career. (Previous Lears have run an esteemed gamut from John Gielgud to James Earl Jones.) And maybe, too, the drama has a hold on us because it suggests it knows a scary truth: that where the plight of human beings is concerned, the universe doesn’t give a hoot. At a time when menace seems so present in the world, a story in which the virtuous suffer and die indiscriminately right along with the wicked may seem jarringly apt.


[ . . . ]



From The Folger Shakespeare Library Digital Image Collection


Recording Julius Caesar

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.356  Thursday, 21 August 2014


From:        Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         August 19, 2014 at 5:08:26 PM EDT

Subject:    Recording Julius Caesar


In the Studio: Recording Julius Caesar


The very talented Robert Richmond (the upcoming Julius Caesar, Richard III, Twelfth Night, Henry V, and Henry VIII) returned to Omega Studios last week along with a cast of Folger favorites to record Julius Caesar in advance of the production opening in October. The recording will be available through the Folger Luminary App, as well as on CD through Simon and Schuster audio.


Zach Appelman (Henry in Henry V at Folger Theatre) plays Mark Antony in the audio recording. Here is a sneak preview of his performance with pinch hitting by William Vaughan (Sebastian in Twelfth Night) as Caesar’s servant.


Julius Caesar Audio Recording Cast 


Mark Antony – Zach Appelman

Cassius – Louis Butelli

Brutus – Antony Cochrane

Calphurnia – Julie-Ann Elliott

Casca – Pomme Koch

Trebonius – Cody Nickell

Caesar – Todd Scofield

Portia – Emily Trask

Octavius – William Vaughan


[Editor’s Note: I saw Zach Appelman as Henry V, and he was stunning. –Hardy]


Folger Puts 80,000 Images of Literary Art Online

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.355  Thursday, 21 August 2014


From:        Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         August 20, 2014 at 10:04:27 PM EDT

Subject:    Folger Puts 80,000 Images of Literary Art Online

Folger Shakespeare Library Puts 80,000 Images of Literary Art Online, and They’re All Free to Use


Has a writer ever inspired as many adaptations and references as William Shakespeare? In the four hundred years since his death, his work has patterned much of the fabric of world literature and seen countless permutations on stage and screen. Less discussed are the visual representations of Shakespeare in fine art and illustration, but they are multitude. In one small sampling, Richard Altick notes in his extensive study Paintings from Books, that “pictures from Shakespeare accounted for about one fifth—some 2,300—of the total number of literary paintings recorded between 1760 and 1900” among British artists.


In the period Altick documents, a rapidly rising middle class drove a market for literary artworks, which were, “in effect, extensions of the books themselves: they were detached forms of book illustration, in which were constantly assimilated the literary and artistic tastes of the time.” These works took the form of humorous illustrations—such as the As You Like It-inspired satirical piece at the top from 1824—and much more serious representations, like the undated Currier & Ives Midsummer-Night’s Dream lithograph above. Now, thanks to the Folger Shakespeare Library, these images, and tens of thousands more from their Digital Image Collection, are available online. And they’re free to use under a CC BY-SA Creative Commons license.


As Head of Collection Information Services Erin Blake explains, “basically this means you can do whatever you want with Folger digital images as long as you say that they’re from the Folger, and as long a you keep the cycle of sharing going by freely sharing whatever you’re making.” The Folger’s impressive repository has been called “the world’s finest collection of Shakesperean art.” As well as traditional paintings and illustrations, it includes “dozens of costumes and props used in nineteenth-century Shakespeare productions,” such as the embroidered velvet costume above, worn by Edwin Booth as Richard III, circa 1870. You’ll also find photographs and scans of “’extra-illustrated’ books filled with inserted engravings, manuscript letters, and playbills associated with particular actors or productions; and a great variety of souvenirs, comic books, and other ephemera associated with Shakespeare and his works.”


In addition to illustrations and memorabilia, the Folger contains “some 200 paintings” and drawings by fine artists like “Henry Fuseli, Benjamin West, George Romney, and Thomas Nast, as well as such Elizabethan artists as George Gower and Nicholas Hilliard.” (The striking print above by Fuseli shows Macbeth’s three witches hovering over their cauldron.) Great and varied as the Folger’s collection of Shakespearean art may be, it represents only a part of their extensive holdings. You’ll also find in the Digital Images Collection images of antique bookbindings, like the 1532 volume of a work by Agrippa von Nettescheim (Heinrich Cornelius), below.


The collection’s enormous archive of 19th century prints is an especial treat. Just below, see a print of that tower of 18th century learning, Samuel Johnson, who, in his famous preface to an edition of the Bard’s works declared, “Shakespeare is above all writers.” All in all, the immense digital collection represents, writes The Public Domain Review, “a huge injection of some wonderful material into the open digital commons.” Already, the Folger has begun adding images to Wikimedia Commons for use free and open use in Wikipedia and elsewhere on the web. And should you somehow manage, through some voracious feat of digital consumption, to exhaust this treasure hold of images, you need not fear—they’ll be adding more and more as time goes on. 


Reed Visiting Appointment

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.354  Thursday, 21 August 2014


From:        Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         August 21, 2014 at 12:21:35 PM EDT

Subject:    Reed Visiting Appointment

Visiting Appointment in Theatre (Directing, Theatre History)

The Reed College Theatre Department invites applications for a one year visiting assistant professor appointment in theatre, to start immediately, with an emphasis in directing and theatre history. Responsibilities will include teaching five courses (Directing I, Theatre History I, Applied Collaboration Techniques, and two electives) as well as advising senior theses.  We are especially interested in scholar/practitioners who are able to teach broadly within the discipline, who are committed to teaching undergraduates in a liberal arts environment, and who will maintain an active scholarly and/or professional practice outside of Reed. Expertise in pre-twentieth century theatre history and/or non-western theatre is of particular interest. A PhD, DFA or equivalent degree is preferred, and successful college level teaching and professional experience required. Advanced graduate students who are ABD will be considered.


Reed College is a small, distinguished liberal arts institution committed to excellence in teaching and scholarship. Reed students are known for their outstanding intellectual engagement and creativity. Reed’s new Performing Arts Building, opened in Fall 2013, provides a vital facility for new initiatives in the performing arts and for fostering interdisciplinary opportunities across the college. Information about the department is available at


Electronic applications are required and must be sent as PDF (preferred) or Word attachment.  Please send a cover letter, vita, and 3 letters of recommendation to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Questions may be addressed to Peter Ksander, chair of the search committee, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Reed College is a community that believes that cultural diversity is essential to the excellence of our academic program. In your application materials, we welcome a description of how, as a scholar, teacher, or community member, you would engage and sustain the commitment to diversity and inclusion articulated in Reed College’s diversity statement (  If letters of recommendation must be sent in hard copy, please submit to Theatre Search, c/o Karin Purdy, Reed College, 3203 SE Woodstock Blvd., Portland OR 97202.


Deadline is rolling and consideration of applications will begin immediately.


An equal opportunity employer, Reed College values diversity and encourages applications from underrepresented groups. Reed College is committed to assisting all members of the Reed community in providing for their own safety and security. Information regarding campus safety, statistics and college policies is available on the Reed website at:


Deadline: Consideration of applications will begin immediately


Shakespeare 4th Folio

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.353  Thursday, 21 August 2014


From:        Paul Muller-Reed <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         August 13, 2014 at 2:11:29 PM EDT

Subject:    Shakespeare 4th Folio


I am the Pres. of New England Auctions and we will be auctioning off an original 1695 4th folio of Shakespeare's Works on Sept. 30th of this year.  


Shakespeare, William.


Mr. William Shakespear’s Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. Published according to the true Original Copies. Unto which is added, Seven Plays, never before Printed in Folio: Viz. Pericles Prince of Tyre. The London Prodigal. The History of Thomas Lord Cromwel. Sir John Oldcastle Lord Cobham. The Puritan Widow. A Yorkshire Tragedy. The Tragedy of Locrine. The Fourth Edition. 


London: Printed for H. Herringham, E. Brewster, and R. Bentley, at the Anchor in the Exchange, the Crane in St. Pauls Church-Yard, and in Russel-Street Covent-Garden. 1685. 


Folio (13-1/2 x 8-1/2 inches). Engraved portrait of Shakespeare by Martin Droeshout printed on the initial leaf with Ben Jonson’s verses “To The Reader” printed below, ornamental woodcut initials. Collation: []2, A4; A-Y6; Z4; Bb-Zz6; *Aaa-*Ddd6; *Eee8; Aaa-Zzz6; Aaaa-Bbbb6; Cccc2. 458 leaves. 


This volume is paged in three parts: 1-272, 1-328, 1-303, with the following irregularities in pagination: in part I, the pagination 96 is followed by 99; 160 by 163; 254 by 243; and that by 254 repeated. Pages 33, 107,109,190, 191, 219, 246 are respectively misprinted 23, 109, 111, 186, 187, 221, 234. In part III: page 67 is misprinted 76. 


“Copies even of this edition are difficult to find in choice and pure state.” –Hazlitt, page 547.



The Silver-Mathews volume has been treated well over the years with many leaves retaining a freshness reflecting the care of ownership from the date of is printing. The leaves show a minimal evidence of handling with the exception of an occasional finger or ink smudge. An occasional stray ash has produced small holes on some leaves. An extremely skilled hand was given the task to close a few margin tears. Varying light browning and a light stain to the bottom margin sporadically affecting signatures. 


Paper defect H2 (affecting 1 letter) and top margins of S2, Z2, Z4 & Oo4 , tiny ash holes affecting leaves *5, B6, G4, H3, M5,  N3, N4, P2, Q, Cc2, Hh, Xx3, Ggg, Tt2, Uu5, Zz4, Ddd2, Fff2, Hhh5, Mmm6, Yyy5 (6 affecting a letter), skilled closed marginal tears to title (two – 1cm), frontispiece (3 at 2cm), *6 (2cm), B6 (1cm), P6 (1cm), Kk4 (1 cm), Kkk3 (1cm). Several later margin tears affect leaves Y3, Ee3, Ee5 & Nn4. 



Paul Muller-Reed

New England Auctions





PBS Shakespeare Uncovered

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.347  Tuesday, 19 August 2014


From:        Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         August 17, 2014 at 8:36:51 AM EDT

Subject:    PBS Shakespeare Uncovered


PBS Shakespeare Uncovered can be streamed from links below:


The Tempest with Trevor Nunn

Hamlet with David Tennant

Richard II with Derek Jacobi

The Comedies with Joely Richardson

Henry IV & V with Jeremy Irons


Recent Additions to Lexicons of Early Modern English

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.346  Tuesday, 19 August 2014


From:        UTP Journals <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         August 18, 2014 at 10:48:39 AM EDT

Subject:    Recent Additions to Lexicons of Early Modern English


Recently added to Lexicons of Early Modern English


§  Stephen Batman, "A note of Saxon wordes" (1581)

§  Edmund Bohun, Geographical Dictionary (1693): 11,681 word-entries

§  Richard Boothby, A Brief Discovery or Description of the Most Famous Island of Madagascar (1646)

§  Thomas Dekker, O per se O (1612)

§  John Heydon, "A Chymical Dictionary" (English; 1662): 70 word-entries.

§  Gregory Martin, The New Testament of the English College of Rheims (1582)

§  Gerhard Mercator, Historia Mundi Or Mercator's Atlas (1635)

§  Guy Miège, A New Dictionary French and English, with another English and French (1677): 18,376 word-entries, 73,641 sub-entries

§  John Ogilby, Asia, the First Part (1673)

§  John Rider,  Bibliotheca Scholastica (English-Latin, 1589): 42,000 word-entries and sub-entries.

§  Richard Rowlands,  A Restitution of Decayed Intelligence in Antiquities (1605; Richard Verstegan; text replaced by an extended and analyzed version)

§  Nicholas Stone, Enchiridion of Fortification (1645)

§  John Thorie, The Theatre of the Earth (1601; place-names): 3,100 word-entries.

§  John Turner, A Book of Wines (1568)


Coming soon to LEME 

§  Ortus Vocabulorum (Latin-English, 1500): 25,500 word-entries.

§  Henry Hexham, A Copious English and Netherdutch Dictionary (1647): 33,000 word-entries.


Lexicons of Early Modern English is a growing historical database offering scholars unprecedented access to early books and manuscripts documenting the growth and development of the English language. With more than 600,000 word-entries from 184 monolingual, bilingual, and polyglot dictionaries, glossaries, and linguistic treatises, encyclopedic and other lexical works from the beginning of printing in England to 1702, as well as tools updated annually, LEME sets the standard for modern linguistic research on the English language. 


Use Modern Techniques to Research Early Modern English!

199 Searchable lexicons

148 Fully analyzed lexicons

664 546 Total word entries

444 971 Fully analyzed word entries

573 423 Total analyzed forms and subforms

444 972 Total analyzed forms

128 451 Total analyzed subforms

60 891 Total English modern headwords


LEME provides exciting opportunities for research for historians of the English language. More than a half-million word-entries devised by contemporary speakers of early modern English describe the meaning of words, and their equivalents in languages such as French, Italian, Spanish, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and other tongues encountered then in Europe, America, and Asia.


University of Toronto Press Journals

5201 Dufferin St., Toronto, ON, Canada M3H 5T8

Tel: (416) 667-7810 Fax: (416) 667-7881

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