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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: February ::
The Essex Rebellion and Richard II
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0409  Thursday, 12 February 2004

[1]     From:   Jonathan Hope <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 11 Feb 2004 13:12:31 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0391 The Essex Rebellion and Richard II

[2]     From:   Peter Bridgman <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 11 Feb 2004 13:18:36 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0391 The Essex Rebellion and Richard II

[3]     From:   Holger Schott <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 11 Feb 2004 09:56:48 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0391 The Essex Rebellion and Richard II

[4]     From:   Martin Steward <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 11 Feb 2004 14:58:00 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0391 The Essex Rebellion and Richard II

[5]     From:   Peter Hadorn <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 11 Feb 2004 13:29:44 -0600
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.0391 The Essex Rebellion and Richard II


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jonathan Hope <
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Date:           Wednesday, 11 Feb 2004 13:12:31 +0000
Subject: 15.0391 The Essex Rebellion and Richard II
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0391 The Essex Rebellion and Richard II

James Siemon is similarly cautious about this commonly pressed canard in
his recent book Word Against Word - I reviewed the book in The Times
Literary Supplement, 7.11.2003, page 9

I found Siemon's writing rather stodgy, but there's no doubting the
scholarship, and Siemon's consideration of the issue struck me as more
persuasive than the Worden/Kermode debate.

Jonathan Hope
Strathclyde University, Glasgow http://www.sinrs.stir.ac.uk/

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Bridgman <
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Date:           Wednesday, 11 Feb 2004 13:18:36 -0000
Subject: 15.0391 The Essex Rebellion and Richard II
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0391 The Essex Rebellion and Richard II

Blair Worden should have checked out the official account, written 18
Feb 1601, of actor Augustine Phillips' interrogation by Popham...

"He sayeth that on Friday last, or Thursday, Sir Charles Percy, Sir
Jocelyn Percy and the Lord Montegle with some three more spake unto some
of the players in the presence of this examinant to have the play of the
deposing and killing of King Richard the Second to be played the
Saturday next, promising to give them forty shillings more than their
ordinary to play it.  Where this examinant and his friends were
determined to have some other play holding that play of King Richard to
be so old and so long out of use as they should have small or no company
at it.  But at their request this examinant and his friends were content
to play it the Saturday and had their 40 shillings more than the
ordinary for it and so played it accordingly".

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Holger Schott <
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Date:           Wednesday, 11 Feb 2004 09:56:48 -0500
Subject: 15.0391 The Essex Rebellion and Richard II
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0391 The Essex Rebellion and Richard II

I have only heard Worden's argument summarized (that particular LRB
issue has proved maddeningly elusive...), but it strikes me as
stunningly devoid of any evidentiary basis. Critics have questioned
before if the play performed that day was Shakespeare's -- _Woodstock_
has been offered as an alternative, for one thing-so Worden's
fundamental idea isn't news. The idea, however, that the Chamberlain's
Men would put on an unprecedented private performance _at the Globe_ at
two days' notice of a play based on a book that had already come under
fire, and whose author had been imprisoned (a play, that is to say,
which would never have been allowed by the Master of the Revels), a
performance about which they then proceeded to lie to the Privy Council
extensively, and lie so convincing that they both escaped punishment
altogether, and convincing enough for their story to be used in two
separate trials by Edward Coke-that idea, while more or less new, also
strikes me as entirely improbable and without merit. I take it that
Worden uses the line about Essex applauding numerous times "at the
rehearsal" of Hayward's book (I can dig out the reference, but don't
have it to hand at the moment), but unless he has made some major
archival discoveries, I really don't see where he could possibly find
other evidence for his claims.

While I completely agree that the political significance of the R2
performance on the eve of the Essex rebellion has been blown entirely
out of proportion (see Leeds Barroll's excellent SQ article on the
question), Worden's argument, while exculpating Shakespeare, has to
portray the Chamberlain's Men as political radicals-which seems, to me
at least, even more unlikely.

Best,
Holger

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <
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Date:           Wednesday, 11 Feb 2004 14:58:00 -0000
Subject: 15.0391 The Essex Rebellion and Richard II
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0391 The Essex Rebellion and Richard II

"It seems to me that if Worden is right, it would have important
implications for those strands of criticism which foreground
Shakespeare's political content."

It would hardly disrupt them, though - which seems to be John Price's
assumption. In the 200 years since Hazlitt, it has become increasingly
difficult to see politics as anything other than "foregrounded" in
nearly all of Shakespeare's plays. But "politically-engaged" doesn't
necessarily translate into "subversive".

The Chamberlain's Men, far from being censured, ended up performing the
play for Elizabeth I on the night of Essex's execution - deposition
scene and all. One might see this as evidence that it wasn't the same
play as that commissioned by the Essex faction. But that would be to
underestimate the rich vein of ambiguity in Shakespeare's play, not to
speak of the fine but cruel irony that the Queen's commission implies

More importantly, we should also bear in mind the privileged position
theatre occupied thanks to its pervasive visibility and its
well-developed professional status - how much could one tinker with a
well-known, properly-licensed play? In his official deposition to the
authorities, Globe shareholder Augustine Phillips insisted that the
company had protested to their seditious patrons that a play "so old and
so long out of use" would not draw a profitable crowd, acquiescing only
once they had secured 40 shillings "more then their ordinarie for it"
(Chambers II, p.205). As Douglas Bruster suggests, the company may have
"counted on the bonus payment to persuade the authorities" of "the
theater's essential commercialism" - as opposed to its essential
subversiveness (Bruster 1992, pp.25-26).

m

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Hadorn <
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Date:           Wednesday, 11 Feb 2004 13:29:44 -0600
Subject: 15.0391 The Essex Rebellion and Richard II
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.0391 The Essex Rebellion and Richard II

Regarding "RII" and the Essex Rebellion:

I do not have any opinions to add, but I can refer you to a fairly
thorough and, I thought, convincing discussion of the subject in "A New
History for Shakespeare and his Time" in "Shakespeare Quarterly" Vol.
39, No. 4:
441-464, by Leeds Barroll.

Cheers!

Peter Hadorn
English, University of Wisconsin-Platteville

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_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, 
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.
 

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