Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 195. Saturday, 27 March 1993.
Date: Friday, 26 Mar 93 11:51:23 EDT
Subject: Bears on stage
I too have often wondered about that bear. While investigating Great Household
Revels, I came across lots of references in various accounts of pet bears and
dancing bears, a popular attraction, it seems, at folk festivals. Mary
Blackstone even has a few itineraries, which she presented at the SAA
conference a couple of years back. Why not one of these tame and trained
beasties onstage? I imagine the audience would pay attention. It's hard to
imagine an early modern audience, accustomed as they were to performing
animals, accepting an actor in a bear suit or a suggestion thereof. And I've
never seen evidence of such a costume in any accounts.