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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: September ::
Henslowe's 'ne
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1678  Wednesday, 8 September 2004

[1]     From:   Peter Hyland <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 7 Sep 2004 09:18:50 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.1668 Henslowe's 'ne'

[2]     From:   Kathy Dent <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 07 Sep 2004 23:49:42 +0100
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.1668 Henslowe's 'ne'


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Hyland <
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Date:           Tuesday, 7 Sep 2004 09:18:50 -0400
Subject: 15.1668 Henslowe's 'ne'
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.1668 Henslowe's 'ne'

Alan Dessen writes:

 >The answer to Chris Whatmore's question--"On the subject of increased
 >takings on 'ne' days, I still doubt that the ticket prices would have
 >been higher for new plays (would you pay extra to see a play you'd never
 >heard of?)--is "yes."  See the section on "First Performances," pp.
 >184-95 in Tiffany Stern's recent essay "'A small-beer health to his
 >second day': Playwrights, Prologues, and First Performances in the Early
 >Modern Theater," *Studies in Philology* 101 (2004): 172-99.  I won't try
 >to summarize a lot of evidence and analysis, but she starts with
 >citations showing the repeated use of "test" or "trial" linked to first
 >performances and then notes: "What is being tested in the first
 >performance is not the players .... Rather, the text itself is being
 >auditioned, and the audience are paying for the right to put it in the
 >dock" (186).  She concludes this section: "A play grew in desirability,
 >it seems, after having been sanctioned *in* performance *by* the
 >spectators" (195).

I have not yet had the opportunity to read Tiffany Stern's paper, but
would not the final statement here, that "A play grew in desirability,
it seems, after having been sanctioned *in* performance *by* the
spectators", suggest the more logical inference would be that first
performances, as tests or trials, would have had lower admission prices
as, for example, do previews at Stratford, Ont?

Peter Hyland

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kathy Dent <
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 >
Date:           Tuesday, 07 Sep 2004 23:49:42 +0100
Subject: 15.1668 Henslowe's 'ne'
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.1668 Henslowe's 'ne'

 >See the section on "First Performances," pp.
 >184-95 in Tiffany Stern's recent essay "'A small-beer health to his
 >second day': Playwrights, Prologues, and First Performances in the Early
 >Modern Theater," *Studies in Philology* 101 (2004): 172-99. ...   She
 >concludes this section: "A play grew in desirability,
 >it seems, after having been sanctioned *in* performance *by* the
 >spectators" (195).

Whilst Stern presents some interesting evidence for her argument, her
conclusion that plays grew in desirability *after* first performance
seems to be contradicted by her statement that new plays (and
specifically first performances) were most popular.  She further states
that the popularity of the premier was reflected in raised prices.
However, if this line of argument is applied to Henslowe's 'ne' plays -
i.e. that attendance was substantially higher *and* that entrance prices
were higher - surely Henslowe's takings at a premier would have been
dramatically greater than at subsequent performances.  In fact, 'ne'
plays, whilst generally being somewhat more profitable, did not generate
such a high income as Stern's statements would seem to suggest.  (She
does not, however, test her hypothesis against Henslowe's accounts.)
Stern also argues that plays would have been amended so as to take into
account audience taste as expressed at the play's first performance.  Is
is difficult to see how this process would tie up with the Master of
Revels's role in licensing the text of the play for performance.

Kathy Dent

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