The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1535 Monday, 16 August 2004
Date: Saturday, 14 Aug 2004 10:37:22 -0400
Subject: 15.1526 Henslowe's 'ne'
Comment: Re: SHK 15.1526 Henslowe's 'ne'
Chris Whatmore suggests that "ne" may refer to the amount of money that
Henslowe recorded, rather than the play performed. I recently proposed
that "ne" indicates that twice the usual amount of admission was charged
for the performance, whether it was a new play or not. Double admission
was charged, not only at the main doors, but also at the tiring-house
door, the door through which playgoers entered to get to the lord's room
or, possibly, on-stage stools. In previous analyses, the revenue
collected at the tiring-house door has been generally overlooked.
However, Henslowe's articles of 1614 with Robert Dawes stipulate that
Henslowe and his partner are to receive half of all admissions "as shall
be received at the galleries & tiring-house." I propose that Henslowe
negotiated the same terms in the early 1590s at the Rose.
I offer two lines of argument for the theory that "ne" signifies twice
the usual admission fee. I reconstructed three box office statements,
based on Henslowe's highest recorded totals, to calculate the potential
distribution of the audience, based on prices paid for admission. The
differential between the highest-grossing "ne" performance and the
highest-grossing non-"ne" performance is 4s-8d. That amount is, of
course, way too low to represent twice the admission fees at the gallery
doors. But the amount is consistent with the theory that (1) the
receipts Henslowe recorded include fees collected at the tiring-house,
and (2) at "ne" performances, he collected twice the usual amount.
Differentials between the next several higher-grossing "ne" (73s-6d,
73s, 72s, 71s, 70s, 70s), and non-"ne" (70s, 70s, 70s, 69s, 69s, 69s)
performances are sufficiently proportional to support the theory.
The second argument takes note of a table, recorded in two separate
places by Henslowe, in which he lists the letter equivalents of Arabic
numerals (i.e., ".J for one," ".v for five," etc.). In both tables, he
writes "n for two," suggesting that "ne" may be Henslowe's shorthand for
"twice" or "double."
My article ("Henslowe's 'ne' and 'the tyeringe-howsse doore'") was
published last year in Research Opportunities in Renaissance Drama, vol.
42, 2003. (The box office statements were greatly reduced, and since
the pages are small, they are a bit difficult to read; if anyone is
interested, I can send the charts as excel worksheets by attachment.
Please e-mail me off-list).
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