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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: April ::
Re: The Date of Richard II
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0778  Thursday, 24 April 2003

From:           Roger Parisious <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Apr 2003 12:05:16 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 14.0749 Re: The Date of Richard II
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0749 Re: The Date of Richard II

I am not unaware of Peter Ure's suggestions about "Richard II" "made
over thirty years ago", and resurrected by Mr.Grady, but it is generally
neglected and with adequate reason." She may have meant some
dramatization OR READING of John Hayward's historical narrative." When
is the last time Messrs. Ure or Grady tried arousing a mob from a wagon
with multi-part readings from an  historical narrative? Even down at the
Daily Worker they knew better than to try that. Nevertheless if this
less than hypothetical situation existed, it would at least explain why
the authorities didn't bother to interfere, but would not explain how
the actors continued to run their street show for around forty
performances when their more than hypothetical street audience would
have gone for some real entertainment -with rotten cabbages- long before
the first wagon performance ended.

How about a Hayward dramatization, rather than the one we know, as the
object of Elizabeth's fury?  "Since Hayward spent time in the Tower for
his book, and since references to his book occur in the trial records,
this strikes me as equally as plausible-but also improvable-as the idea
that Elizabeth meant Shakespeare's play." Like any good Grail quester
Mr. Grady has supplied the answer to his own question. Heyward not only
spent time in the tower ,he was tortured. If he had been suspected of
involvement in the wagon productions, the screws would have been applied
a little tighter till the story came out. The book is mentioned in the
trial depositions; the play is mentioned in the trial depositions. The
Crown never confused the two. The two instances in point (1)that the
Richard II play was Shakespeare's(2)that John Hayward wrote or supplied
the material for an alternative play- are not "equally plausible".

A Richard II was hired out for performance from the Lord Chamberlain's
Men by an Essex agent. This was on the eve of the uprising. It is the
only play mentioned in the ugly proceedings that followed. The players,
when questioned, pled that it was an "old play" that couldn't  have made
the cost of performance back for them without the Essex subsidy. The
Shakespeare Richard II text, the only one which the Lord Chamberlain's
Men are on record as holding, suffered from  major political deletions.
Given this series of obvious links it continues to sound like one and
the same text to most students. This is confirmed by the large(and very
skillful) use of rhyme and a use of double endings and run-ons showing
far less development than is found in the last three acts of Henry IV
Part II. This latter play is certainly revised as a result of the Cobham
scandal late l598-l599. I therefore reiterate that the external evidence
corroborates the internal evidence that Richard II dates substantially
from the early l590's and postdates King John and extremely polished
versions of a MND and Henry IV, Part I and the first two acts of Part
II.

Mr. Grady has also raised a very good question which does not carry a
self-evident answer and which I foresaw in describing Elizabeth's
remarks as made with royalty's prerogative to exaggerate, particularly
under the heavy fire she was experiencing at the time (about six months
after the arrest of Essex). Is there anything else remotely comparable
in the history of Elizabethan theatre? Forty out of theatre performances
of a well know show? Whatever she may have meant, that is what Elizabeth
Tudor ended up on record as saying in her one known acknowledgement that
there were such entities as Shakespearean plays." That so did take
Eliza". On any theory of authorship she certainly gave the Bard a rave
notice once she got around to him.

If Elizabeth was not suffering from a failing memory (which I have never
heard tell) she ,like the players, is identifying the Richard we know as
a very old play. Essex's man hired a single performance. She cannot be
talking about recent activities.

There is considerable evidence from Robert Greene and others that
Shakspere did play street companies and do puppet theatre in his early
days, but I await any evidence of such massive dramatic activities on
the streets of l590's London.

Roger Parisious

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