The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0205  Sunday, 27 January 2002

From:           Jack Heller <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 26 Jan 2002 06:29:12 -0500
Subject: 13.0178 Average Length of an Afterpiece
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0178 Average Length of an Afterpiece


The document that Ungerer is citing is given more fully as an appendix
to Paul Mulholland's edition of The Roaring Girl. It suggests that Mary
Frith appeared at the Fortune fully dressed in men's clothing, boots,
and with a sword; so, while the play itself was being performed (at
least once), she was always herself in her persona as Moll Cutpurse.
Some years ago, Mulholland suggested that Frith might have acted the
play's role of the roaring girl. I've never found the evidence to
support that suggestion, but if anyone knows more, I'm certainly

The document does not indicate how long Frith's performance lasted, but
it does indicate what was found offensive in her "immodest & lascivious
speeches": "she told the company there present that she thought many of
them were of opinion that she was a man, but if any of them would come
to her lodging they should finde that she is a woman" (262). A half hour
may be a reasonable conjecture for the length of her performance, but I
haven't seen firm evidence for it. It should be noted that Frith's
appearance was not planned for every performance of the play. Dekker's
Epilogue promises: "If what both [authors] have done/ Cannot full pay
your expectation,/ The Roaring Girl herself, some few days hence,/ Shall
on this stage give larger recompense;/ Which mirth that you may share
in, herself does woo you,/ And craves this sign: your hands to beckon
her to you" (lines 33-38, page 247).  I take that to suggest that
Frith's appearance did not occur at the end of every show.

Hope this helps. Anyone who hasn't read The Roaring Girl is missing one
very interesting play.

Jack Heller


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