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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: May ::
First Falstaff [Was Gambon as Falstaff]
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1018  Friday, 27 May 2005

From:           Holger Schott Syme <
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Date:           Thursday, 26 May 2005 21:06:25 -0400
Subject: 16.1006 First Falstaff [Was Gambon as Falstaff]
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.1006 First Falstaff [Was Gambon as Falstaff]

Many thanks to Bill Lloyd for his detailed responses. I'm not absolutely
sold on the identification of the Falstaff in the _Wits_ frontispiece as
Lowin (just as I don't necessarily believe that Tamburlaine illustration
depicts Alleyn), though it's not implausible.

I agree with Bill on Kempe: there is little evidence to suggest that
Kempe ever played major characters, although the idea of Kempe as
Falstaff is not unattractive (and Kastan's argument in his intro to the
Arden _1H4_ makes it at least sound like a decent possibility).

As for Lowin's and Heminge's parts in the first performances of Jonson's
plays, I remain unconvinced. The company changed a lot in the ten years
between _Volpone_'s original staging and the revival that the Riddell
annotations seem to refer to. I have to confess that I don't have
Riddell's article to hand (although I consider those annotations good
evidence), and can't remember if it lists Heminge as Corbaccio; Gurr
claims that he played that role in _The Shakespeare Company_ (a book
sadly filled with speculations offered as fact), but doesn't support the
claim; if it comes from Riddell, that would seem to contradict Gurr's
statement that the last _Catiline_ (1611) was the last performance with
which Heminge's name was associated.

The evidence on this appears inconclusive to me, but I'm grateful to
Bill for laying it out so clearly.

Best,
Holger

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