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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: February ::
Hal Berridge and Macbeth
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0158  Monday, 19 February 2007

From: 		Sean B. Palmer <
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Date: 		Monday, 19 Feb 2007 11:18:00 +0000
Subject: 	Hal Berridge and Macbeth

Back in 2001, Dave Kathman [1] and Gabriel Egan [2] mentioned the mythos 
that Hal Berridge played as a boy actor in a 7th August 1606 performance 
of Macbeth. Dave Kathman specifically wondered about the provenance and 
was unable to supply it, but Stanley Wells supplied it the next year in 
Shakespeare Survey 29. I thought it as well to commit the details to the 
SHAKSPER record, since they don't otherwise appear.

Max Beerbohm invented the anecdote in October 1898, in the passage as it 
appears here in a 1954 reprint:

"According to Aubrey the play was first acted in 1606, at Hampton Court, 
in the presence of King James. It is stated that Hal Berridge, the youth 
who was to have acted the part of Lady Macbeth, 'fell sudden sicke of a 
pleurisie, wherefor Master Shakespeare himself did enacte in his stead.'"
- Beerbohm, Max (1954). _Around Theatres_. Simon and Schuster. p.9.

Wells says about it:

"The theatre review in which Max displays most familiarity with 
Shakespeare scholarship is one of /Macbeth/, dating from October 1898 
(1, 8-11). In this he makes an excursus into stage history. [...] "Max's 
use of these passages of historical evidence is impressive enough when 
one considers how little known they were in 1898. It is even more 
impressive when one realises that they are entirely of his invention."
- Wells, Stanley (2002). "Shakespeare in Max Beerbohm's Theatre
Criticism." In _Shakespeare Survey_ 29, pp.135-6.

Dave Kathman's supposition [1] that the exact date (7th August, which 
doesn't appear in Beerbohm) was later lifted from James McManaway, 
possibly via Kenneth Muir, still seems reasonable enough in light of 
this. Further investigation into the augmentation may shed some 
interesting light on the development of mythos in general.

[1] http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2001/1950.html
[2] http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2001/2196.html

Regards,
Sean B. Palmer

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