The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0720 Wednesday, 5 April 2000.
From: John Briggs <
Date: Tuesday, 4 Apr 2000 11:19:10 +0100
Subject: 11.0665 Re: Wooden O
Comment: RE: SHK 11.0665 Re: Wooden O
Before the 'Wooden O' thread dies completely, perhaps I might stir up
How sure are we that the 'Wooden O' is the Globe? "Can this cockpit
hold / The vasty fields of France?": this is Shakespeare's only use of
the word "cockpit" and we can't be certain that he is being ironical.
The Globe wasn't a cockpit, and was the Curtain (the other candidate?)
ever used for cockfighting? What is gnawing at the back of my mind is
that the first recorded performance of Henry V was at Court at Whitehall
on 7 January 1605 (Revels Accounts: does anyone have a reference?).
Could this performance have been in the Whitehall Cockpit? The
Whitehall Cockpit was used for plays during the reign of James I and was
later converted into a theatre by Inigo Jones - the walls and interior
space survive (more or less) as part of the Privy Council offices. Does
anyone know when the Whitehall Cockpit was first used for plays? (I
have a reference to Bentley, Jacobean and Caroline Stage, but I haven't
followed it up yet.) The day before, Twelfth Night 1605, "The Masque of
Blackness", the first of the Jonson/Jones collaborations was danced at
Court, presumably in the Old Banqueting House, and that scenery would
not have been suitable...
The 'Acts and Scenes' thread seemed to generate more heat than light,
but I was struck how unusual among Shakespeare's earlier plays Henry V
is in being clearly divided into five acts by the Chorus scenes. The
would seem to me to suggest indoor performance, possibly at Court. The
Q1 text of 1600 (a bad quarto) lacks these Chorus scenes - but that may
not be significant.
Yes, I know there are all sorts of things wrong with this suggestion.
For a start, the Whitehall Cockpit wasn't circular: it was square
externally and (probably) octagonal internally. (The external walls
seem to be brick, but the interior could have been completely wooden)
For another thing, the date of 1599 for Henry V is established by the
Act V Prologue "Were now the General of our Gracious Empress, / As in
good time he may, from Ireland coming..." and there is another allusion
to Essex at 3.6.76.
Am I completely wrong, or is there any merit in my suggestion?