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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: December ::
Re: Flags over Globe
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.2192  Tuesday, 14 December 1999.

[1]     From:   Terri Mategrano <
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        Date:   Thursday, 9 Dec 1999 09:44:47 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.2166 Re: Flags over Globe

[2]     From:   Judith Matthews Craig <
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        Date:   Thursday, 9 Dec 1999 16:26:00 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.2174 Re: Flags over Globe

[3]     From:   Vince Locke <
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        Date:   Saturday, 11 Dec 1999 09:34:03 PST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.2174 Re: Flags over Globe


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terri Mategrano <
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Date:           Thursday, 9 Dec 1999 09:44:47 EST
Subject: 10.2166 Re: Flags over Globe
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.2166 Re: Flags over Globe

If theatres were forbidden from advertising their plays, why was there a
playbill monopoly assigned to stationers (like John Charlewood and James
Roberts)? Certainly the flags designated what kind of play was being
staged that day, but I do not think that advertising was "forbidden."

Terri Mategrano

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Judith Matthews Craig <
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Date:           Thursday, 9 Dec 1999 16:26:00 -0600
Subject: 10.2174 Re: Flags over Globe
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.2174 Re: Flags over Globe

According to Shakespeare's Globe Playhouse: A Modern Reconstruction in
Text and Scale Drawings by Irwin Smith (New York: Scribner's Sons,
1956), pp.  158-59, the flags served to "let would-be players know that
a play would be presented that afternoon" (159).  The only color
mentioned is "[t]he flag in the DeWitt sketch [which] displays a swan on
a white background" (159).  Although "[p]layhouse flags are pictured in
all of the early engravings and drawings after the Norden map of 1593"
(159), no other color is mentioned in this reference book, and no
indication is given of the meaning of the flag.

Judy Craig

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Vince Locke <
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Date:           Saturday, 11 Dec 1999 09:34:03 PST
Subject: 10.2174 Re: Flags over Globe
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.2174 Re: Flags over Globe

>Does someone have a citation for this specific color-coding practice? It
>sounds suspiciously as though it's been borrowed from some later
>critic's reading of Tamburlaine.

In her excellent book The Friendly Shakespeare, Norrie Epstein writes:

         Since the city fathers considered playgoing immoral, they
         prohibited theatre managers from luring customers through
         advertising.  But the managers ingeniously triumphed over
         Puritan strictures: as two o'clock neared, a raised flag and
         a trumpet fanfare proclaimed that the performance was about
         to begin.  The flag indicated the day's feature: black
         signified tragedy; white, comedy; and red, history. (45).

Additionally, Dr. Laurie Rozakis writes in The Complete Idiot's Guide to
Shakespeare:

         Bowing to the pressure of the Puritans, theater advertising
         was forbidden.  Theater owners got around the ban by raising
         a flag and blasting a trumpet as 2:00 approached.  The color
         of the flag indicated the day's feature: White stood for
         comedy; black for tragedy; and red for history. (33).

Where these two scholars got their information, I don't know, but it
seems to be fairly common knowledge.

On a different topic, I have a question regarding Othello.  I once read
that the name Iago was Spanish for James (presumably of Islamic
origin).  Since most scholars place the play's date of composition as
1604, the first year of James I reign, why would Shakespeare risk the
offense of his sovereign and patron by naming his most evil character
synonymously with the king?

Vince Locke
Eastern Michigan University
 

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