The Elizabethan Dumb Show (Routledge Revivals): The History of a Dramatic Convention: Volume 4


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Plague closure probably prevented the company using the Blackfriars until late in and, assuming that they opened it with a new play by their resident dramatist, the first performance in their new home was either Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale or his Cymbeline. With two playhouses at their disposal, the King's men were able to use the Globe from May to September and, when the weather began to make outdoor performances uncomfortable, to move to the indoor Blackfriars for the winter.

Outdoor performances had traditionally used no intervals but the tradition at the Blackfriars was to have a short break, a musical interlude, after each act. The King's men normalized their practices by introducing act intervals at the Globe and by moving its music room from an unseen position inside the tiring house to the balcony in the back wall of the stage. The practicalities of staging differed in the company's indoor and outdoor venues.

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Woodwind instruments are suitable indoors, brass outdoors, but more pressingly the small stage of the Blackfriars made swordfighting difficult. Despite this, and presumable because they had the ingrained touring habit of accommodating to whatever space is available, the company did not immediately develop different repertories for each playhouse.

Although the Blackfriars attracted an elite audience paying high prices, the Globe's importance to the company is attested by their decision to rebuild it "in far fairer manner than before", as Edmond Howes put it, after it burned down in Shakespeare retired around this time and was replaced by the partnership of Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher. Richard Burbage died in and was replaced by Joseph Taylor. A new patent was issued to the company on 27 March , but only Heminges and Condell remained from the first patent of Heminges was by this time primarily an administrator for the company, and Condell seems to have stopped acting by the end of the s.

It was these two men who organized the publication of the first collected works of Shakespeare, the Folio of Playing the established masterpieces of Shakespeare and the new works of Beaumont and Fletcher, the King's men survived intact until the general theatrical closure of Davenant, Sir William , putative illegitimate son of Shakespeare, the second Poet Laureate, theatre impresario, playwright, and adapter of Shakespeare, born late February or early March , death reported "just now" by Samuel Pepys on 7 April John Aubrey recorded that Davenant would "when he was pleasant over a glasse of wine with his most intimate friends.

The tavern in Oxford owned by Davenant's parents was on the road from Stratford on Avon to London but it did not offer any public accommodation and there is no evidence beyond the frequent retelling of Aubrey's anecdote to substantiate the story. However, Davenant was an avid fan of Shakespeare's work. Davenant's The Colonel was licensed on 22 July but might not have been performed, but his The Just Italian certainly was performed by the King's men. In Davenant contracted syphilis and suffered disfigurement to his nose from taking mercury to cure it. Masque, play, and poetry writing occupied Davenant until the civil war and from 25 March he received a royal pension which, although Jonson was not yet dead, was widely taken to indicate that Davenant had succeeded him as poet laureate.

Military service in the skirmishes which prefigured the civil war prevented Davenant from fulfilling this commission, and in he, like many in the theatre, joined the royalist side. In prison after defeat of the royalists Davenant wrote his epic poem Gondibert , and after two years he was released unharmed, probably aided by solicitations from John Milton amongst others.

In Charles 2's reign Davenant at the Duke's and Thomas Killigrew at the Theatre Royal enjoyed a theatrical duopoly in London, and both showed established classics from the pre-commonwealth era. Davenant's leading actor, Thomas Betterton, was reputedly aided by Davenant's familiarity with the performances of John Lowin and Joseph Taylor who received their instructions directly from Shakespeare. This cannot be literally true since Taylor joined the King's men in , but Davenant's links with the Shakespearian tradition were closer than anyone else working in the London theatre.

But biographer Mary Edmond is undoubtedly right to credit Davenant with making Shakespeare available to a generation denied any access to theatrical art and his intelligent reworkings may be seen as an appropriate responses to conditions utterly unlike those which obtained when the theatres were closed in Globe Theatre. The primary playing space of the Chamberlain-King's men between and , and thereafter their summer venue alternating with the indoors Blackfriars playhouse in winter.

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The Globe was located in the Bankside district of south London, famous for its animal baiting rings and brothels, and near to the Rose theatre operated by Philip Henslowe. Built from the recycled timbers of the company's previous home, the Theatre, the Globe was an open-air, virtually circular, amphitheatre with a diameter of between 80 and feet and a thatched roof.

Although associated with several of Shakespeare's most famous plays which received their first performance in it, the Globe was built because James Burbage's intended new home for the company, the indoors Blackfriars playhouse was prevented from opening in by the objection of local residents. Despite its inauspicious beginning, the Globe's long-term economic success is attested by the decision to rebuild it "far fairer" than before after it burnt down during a performance of Shakespeare's All Is True on 29 June The appearance of this second Globe is recorded in Wensceslaus Hollar's Long View of London , the preliminary sketch for which was used as the basis of the modern replica of the first Globe which was officially opened on Bankside in The Globe was owned and operated by a syndicate of the leading players in the Chamberlain's men.

Hitherto playhouses were owned by entrepreneurs working singly or in pairs to build and maintain venues hired out to acting companies for a share of the takings, usually the money collected in the galleries with the income from standing spectators going to the actors. Expenditure on the abortive Blackfriars project left James Burbage without sufficient capital to provide a replacement for the Theatre but by forming a syndicate and by taking the Theatre's timbers with them, the Chamberlain's men were able to finance the Globe.

This arrangement proved to be particularly stable and the same procedure was followed when, in , the Blackfriars project was resumed. Because the Globe's timbers were merely those of the Theatre re-assembled on a new site, and because it is unlikely that the old joints in the wood were sawn off and remade, the new building must have been the same size and shape as its predecessor. The Theatre's name was intended to evoke the Roman amphitheatres of years earlier whose circular shape it emulated, and the Globe's name extended this association to assert the microcosmic correspondence of the world of drama and the world of everyday life.

This correspondence was made explicit in a number of Shakespeare's plays written for the Globe, for example in Jaques's comment that "All the world's a stage" As You Like It 2. There is, however, little evidence to support the frequently repeated claim that the Globe's identifying flag represented Hercules supporting the earth and nothing at all to suggest that its motto was "Totus Mundus Agit Histrionum" the "whole world moves the actor", but often mistranslated as "all the world's a stage".

The second Globe, recorded by Hollar, was built on the foundations of the first and so presumably it was the same size and shape. If so, the original groundplan of the Theatre, built in , survived in this form until the closing of the playhouses in Hollar's sketch of the second Globe was made with an accurate optical instrument, but estimates of the Globe's size derived from this sketch are undermined by his multiple sketching lines and by detail hidden behind obstacles. With its stage extending into the middle of the yard, the Globe allowed an actor to stand almost at the centre of a densely packed cylinder of spectators although experiments in the replica do not conclusively show that this central spot is the ideal place to deliver the most powerful lines of Shakespeare's plays.

Shakespeare's first use of flight was in Cymbeline written and around this time staging practices at the Globe were brought into line with practices at the Blackfriars, so presumably a flight machine was then added to the Globe. Dramatic use of below-stage space is evinced by the stage direction "ghost cries from under the stage" 1. Before the construction of the first permanent theatre spaces in London in the s and s, the large yards of the inns of the City of London were being used for dramatic performance. The yards, designed for the unloading of wagons, were enclosed on three or four sides and had galleries around their edges which provided access to the rooms available for nightly rental.

With the addition of a portable stage an inn-yard made an effective theatre with space for spectators standing around the stage and under or within the galleries. The Red Lion used to be thought an inn-playhouse, but new evidence shows that, despite the unlikely sounding name, this was a farm converted to a playhouse in Until playing companies moved between different city inns in winter, and the suburban playhouses in the summer. In the privy council banned all playing at city inns and allowed only two companies, the Admiral's men and the Chamberlain's men, at two specified suburban venues: the Rose and the Theatre, respectively.

Glynne Wickham thought that players using an inn probably preferred one of its interior halls to its exposed yard for their performance since this would give them protection from the winter elements and would also please the inn-keeper who would not want to lose the use of his yard for unloading wagons. But wagons were probably unloaded early in the morning and late at night so for most of the day no conflict existed, and moreover Oscar Brownstein showed that the annual migration between city inns and suburban amphitheatres was prompted more by plague restrictions than by concerns of comfort.

Receipts for the Boar's Head galleries on 24 and 26 December suggest that outdoor playing was practical in winter. We know of only one inn being permanently converted into a playhouse: the Boar's Head in A privy council order of June banned all playing at inns and no subsequent performances are recorded. Wickham, Glynne Early English Stages to , 3 vols.

London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, , vol. Rose Theatre. Philip Henslowe, in partnership with one John Cholmley, built the first open-air amphitheatre playhouse on Bankside, the Rose, in Excavation of the site has revealed that the Rose was an irregular fourteen sided polygon approximately 74 feet across and with a small, shallow, tapered stage which either fronted or formed a chord across three auditorium bays. This was considerably smaller than the Swan and the Globe which were later erected in the same district. Henslowe enlarged the Rose in but not by much and the main increase was in yard space.

Prior to the Rose excavation it was generally assumed that Elizabethan theatrical amphitheatres were regular polygons and that their stages were rectangular and extended into the middle of the yard. In Henslowe paid for the installation of a "throne in the heavens", presumably a device for lowering an actor to the stage from the stage cover.


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The layering of the foundations on the site indicates that the stage cover and its attendant stage posts were built no earlier than the alterations of A rainwater erosion line in the yard of the Rose, and Henslowe's payments to thatchers, indicate that the roof of the Rose was thatched. Henslowe's accounts recording his income from the Rose name a great many plays, most of which are lost to us. Because a play might appear under more than one name, and more than one play might exist on the theme of, say, Henry 5's life, identification of plays from Henslowe's records is not certain.

Henslowe's attention focused on his new Fortune playhouse after and by the Rose had been pulled down. Bowsher, Julian M. Hildy ed. Rutter, Carol Chillington ed. Astington ed. Swan Theatre. The Swan was built in by Francis Langley in the Bankside district of south London and it was clearly intended to compete with the nearby Rose owned by Philip Henslowe. In a Dutch humanist scholar, Johannes de Witt, visited the Swan and drew a picture of it which his friend and fellow classicist Aernout van Buchell copied; this copy is extant.

De Witt's sketch is the only surviving interior view of an open-air playhouse of the period and it shows a virtually round amphitheatre of somewhere between 16 and 24 sides with a stage projecting into the yard surmounted by a stage cover supported on two pillars. External views of the Swan also appear in a number of pictures of London, including a map of the Paris Garden Manor which appears to show the Swan having a single exterior staircase. None of the external views of the Swan is a reliable guide to its dimensions, but the Hope playhouse contract specified that it should be "of suche large compass, fforme, widenes, and height as the Plaihouse called the Swan".

Hollar's sketch of the second Globe shows the Hope to be about feet across, and we may assume the Swan was about the same. De Witt described the Swan as the largest of the London playhouses of its day and wrote that it was made out of an aggregate of flint stones "ex coacervato lapide pyrritide" , a detail we must doubt given the construction practices of the day. The large wooden columns supporting the stage cover were painted like marble so cleverly as "to deceive the most inquiring eye", and perhaps the external rendering too was deceptive.

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The described marbelization, the circular shape, and the use of classical columns with ornate bases and capitals put the Swan in a neo-classicist tradition of design emerging at the end of the sixteenth century despite the apparent Tudor bareness of the sketch. The Swan was closed in when Pembroke's men played The Isle of Dogs now lost by Thomas Nashe and Ben Jonson which was highly critical of the government and which landed the dramatists in jail. By it appears to be have been operating again: the hoaxer Richard Vennar circulated a playbill describing an entertainment called England's Joy , "to be Played at the Swan this 6 of Nouember, ".

Having received the takings Vennar tried to flee without providing a performance and the expectant audience "when they saw themselves deluded, revenged themselves upon the hangings, curtaines, chaires, stooles, walles" of the playhouse. Langley died in and the Paris Garden estate was sold to Hugh Browker.

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The Swan had a revival of theatrical activity between and , as shown by the receipts of the estate's overseers and also the allusion in Middleton and Dekker's The Roaring Girl to a "new play i' the Swan". The only extant play known to have been performed at the Swan is Thomas Middleton's A Chaste Maid in Cheapside , presumably during the revival of activity. After the Swan was occasionally used for prize-fighting, and in Nicholas Goodman described it as "now fallen in decay, and like a dying Swanne , hanging downe her head, seemed to sing her own dierge".

Herbert Berry discovered that in the Swan was used by the commissioners of the Court of Requests as a venue for taking evidence in a lawsuit concerning the Globe, and such men "would not take official evidence in a hovel" so presumably the building had been restored to some of its former elegance. Theatre, The. The first substantial purpose-built London playhouse in England since Roman times, built in by James Burbage in the Shoreditch district just north-east of the city and hence beyond the jurisdiction of the anti-theatrical puritan city fathers.

Although the Red Lion was earlier built , the Theatre appears to have been considerably more substantial than its predecessor and indeed its timbers survived in the form of the Globe until the fire of The only contemporary picture of the the Theatre is the sketch belonging to Abram Booth now in the University of Utrecht library.

This shows an apparently round open-air structure with a superstructural hut like that at the Swan, but artistic distortion of proportion especially height limits this picture's usefulness concerning the Theatre's size. Patrons could apparently stand in the yard around the stage and either stand or sit in the galleries which enclosed the yard. When it was built the Theatre was available to any playing company to use and the precise occupancy is largely untraceable before the settlement of which licensed the Chamberlain's men to use the Theatre and the Admiral's men to use the Rose.

The nearby Curtain playhouse was described as an "esore" to the Theatre in , which suggests some an obscure financial connection which might have involved the Chamberlain's men playing at the Curtain.

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The lease on the site expired in and when negotiations for its renewal stalled and the Blackfriars project was thwarted the Burbages engaged the master carpenter Peter Street to dismantle the building and to re-erect the timbers as the Globe on a new site south of the river. Lusardi, James P.


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The Romans built amphitheatres in Britain during their occupation, but we know of no purpose-built theatres erected between their departure and the construction of the open-air galleries and stage of the Red Lion in Stepney in More substantial than the Red Lion were James Burbage's Theatre in Shoreditch built in and Henry Lanham's nearby Curtain built in , both of which echoed the circular shape of the Roman amphitheatres. Also in Richard Farrant began to use the Upper Frater of the Blackfriars dominican monastery as a playhouse and some time in the s the Paul's playhouse opened.

The first playhouse south of the river was probably the one at Newington Butts, about which almost nothing is known, but in Philip Henslowe built his open-air Rose theatre on Bankside and this was joined by its neighbours the Swan and the Globe There had long been an animal baiting ring in the south bank area known as Paris Garden, but the theory that open-air playhouses developed out of the tradition of placing a touring company's portable stage and booth inside a baiting ring is unproven.

In truth we do not know where the open-air circular playhouse design came from, other than imitation of the Roman style. In Henslowe built a new open-air playhouse, the Fortune, north of the river but broke with tradition in making the gallery ranges in the form of a square. Until , when the King's men regained the Blackfriars, the indoor theatres were used exclusively by companies of child actors and the open-air playhouses dominated the adult industry. It was customary at the indoor playhouses to divide the performance into 5 acts and for short musical interludes to fill the intervals, and this practice spread to the outdoor playhouses with the King's men's acquisition of the Blackfriars.

The Elizabethan Dumb Show (Routledge Revivals): The History of a Dramatic Convention: Volume 4 The Elizabethan Dumb Show (Routledge Revivals): The History of a Dramatic Convention: Volume 4
The Elizabethan Dumb Show (Routledge Revivals): The History of a Dramatic Convention: Volume 4 The Elizabethan Dumb Show (Routledge Revivals): The History of a Dramatic Convention: Volume 4
The Elizabethan Dumb Show (Routledge Revivals): The History of a Dramatic Convention: Volume 4 The Elizabethan Dumb Show (Routledge Revivals): The History of a Dramatic Convention: Volume 4
The Elizabethan Dumb Show (Routledge Revivals): The History of a Dramatic Convention: Volume 4 The Elizabethan Dumb Show (Routledge Revivals): The History of a Dramatic Convention: Volume 4
The Elizabethan Dumb Show (Routledge Revivals): The History of a Dramatic Convention: Volume 4 The Elizabethan Dumb Show (Routledge Revivals): The History of a Dramatic Convention: Volume 4
The Elizabethan Dumb Show (Routledge Revivals): The History of a Dramatic Convention: Volume 4 The Elizabethan Dumb Show (Routledge Revivals): The History of a Dramatic Convention: Volume 4
The Elizabethan Dumb Show (Routledge Revivals): The History of a Dramatic Convention: Volume 4 The Elizabethan Dumb Show (Routledge Revivals): The History of a Dramatic Convention: Volume 4
The Elizabethan Dumb Show (Routledge Revivals): The History of a Dramatic Convention: Volume 4 The Elizabethan Dumb Show (Routledge Revivals): The History of a Dramatic Convention: Volume 4
The Elizabethan Dumb Show (Routledge Revivals): The History of a Dramatic Convention: Volume 4

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