The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0557  Thursday, 20 March 2003

From:           Sean Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Wednesday, 19 Mar 2003 14:52:46 -0400
Subject: 14.0543 Re: Questions
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0543 Re: Questions

James Conlan writes,

>Further, it is a notorious fact that the Innocents' Day, 1594,
>performance of _Errors_ at Gray's Inn was delayed as the audience on the
>stage was arranged according to their proper station.  Moved from a
>place of greater precedence to a lesser, the Ambassador to the court
>from the Middle Temple left.

The account in Gesta Grayorum is as follows:

When the Ambassador was placed, as aforesaid, and that there was
something to be performed for the Delight of the Beholders, there arose
such a disordered Tumult and Crowd upon the Stage, that there was no
Opportunity to effect that which was intended:  There came so great a
number of worshipful Personages upon the Stage, that might not be
displaced; and Gentlewomen, whose Sex did privilege them from Violence,
that when the Prince and his Officers had in vain, a good while,
expected and endeavoured a Reformation, at length there was no hope of
Redress for that present.  The Lord Ambassador and his Train thought
that they were not so kindly entertained, as was before expected, and
thereupon would not stay any longer at that time, but, in a sort,
discontented and displeased.  After their Departure the Throngs and
Tumults did somewhat cease, although so much of them continued, as was
able to disorder and confound any good Inventions whatsoever.  In regard
whereof, as also for that the Sports intended were especially for the
gracing of the Templarians, it was thought good not to offer any thing
of Account, saving Dancing and Revelling with Gentlewomen; and after
such Sports, a Comedy of Errors (like to Plautus his Menechmus) was
played by the Players.

There is no direct mention of the ambassador being moved to a position
of lesser precedence, only to being badly entertained, which isn't even
directly linked with the "tumult and disorder"; moreover, the account
suggests that the production of Error was not delayed, but rather, that
the production of something else "to be performed for the Delight of the
Beholders" was replaced by it.  In fact, the persons who came unto the
stage are described as "worshipful" which would militate against any
sort of violation of rank.

Unless there's another account of the evening, I don't think that this
is any clearer an indication of precedence than the reversal of names
(if that it is) at the end of Romeo and Juliet.

Sean Lawrence.

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