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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: March ::
Ending Early Modern Performances
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0591  Wednesday, 30 March 2005

[1]     From:   Joseph Tate <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 29 Mar 2005 09:47:47 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0577 Ending Early Modern Performances

[2]     From:   Kathy Dent <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 29 Mar 2005 18:52:38 +0100
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0577 Ending Early Modern Performances


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joseph Tate <
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Date:           Tuesday, 29 Mar 2005 09:47:47 -0800
Subject: 16.0577 Ending Early Modern Performances
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0577 Ending Early Modern Performances

I'm sure others will have more informed and detailed responses, but
here's one contemporary description:

Thomas Platter, a Swiss doctor visiting London, saw Julius Caesar at the
Globe on September 21, 1599, near the end of the playhouse's opening
summer.  He wrote: "On September 21st after lunch, about two o'clock, I
and my party crossed the water, and there in the house with the thatched
roof witnessed an excellent performance of the tragedy of the first
Emperor Julius Caesar with a cast of some fifteen people; when the play
was over, they danced very marvellously and gracefully together as is
their wont, two dressed as men and two as women" (qtd. in _Playgoing_,
Gurr 222).

Joseph Tate

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kathy Dent <
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Date:           Tuesday, 29 Mar 2005 18:52:38 +0100
Subject: 16.0577 Ending Early Modern Performances
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0577 Ending Early Modern Performances

 >Does anyone have any information about how the first productions of
 >Shakespeare's plays would have ended

It is clear from the evidence of the plays themselves that the players
expected applause (Prospero: 'But release me from my bands / With the
help of your good hands...'; Puck: 'Give me your hands, if we be friends
...').

However, David Wiles also has this on what he calls the 'postlude': "I
have argued that there was always a potential conflict of interests
between the comedian who played 'clown' or 'Vice' and the Elizabethan
dramatist who wanted scope and recognition for his own talents as a
writer. ... This tension resolved itself in the 1590S. Within the
authorial script, the clown was generally given a self-contained
sub-plot and a smaller proportion of available stage time than the Vice
used to receive. But after the scripted play was over, the clown was
allowed the freedom of the stage, freedom for improvisation, rhyming and
dancing. The old balance between order and carnivalesque inversion was
maintained, but in a new way. As plays grew increasingly orderly, in
respect of their writing, performance and reception, the traditional
enactment of misrule was displaced onto the postlude. Tarlton had
established the custom of taking over the stage at the end in order to
sing and exchange extemporal verses with the audience. As the
relationship between player and spectator grew more impersonal, as a
hunger for narrative was stimulated, Tarlton's techniques were
superseded. A contained dramatic action, the jig, became the central
event in the postlude."  From _Shakespeare's Clown_ (1987: Cambridge
UP), p.43.

See also Charles Read Baskervill's _The Elizabethan Jig and Song Related
Drama_ (1929: U Chicago Press).

Kathy Dent

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