< Theatre Notebook
Vol. 71, No. 2
Were Property Booths Used in the First Performance of Jonson's Bartholomew Fair?
Ben Jonson’s Bartholomew Fair received its first performances on successive days in 1614 in front of very different audiences. When printed in 1631, the title-page states that the play was “ACTED IN THE YEARE, 1614. By the Lady ELIZABETHS SERVANTS” (F2, A2r). The Induction to the play, written specially for its premiere (“THE INDVCTION. ON THE STAGE” [A4r]), provides information about the venue and the date: “at the Hope on the Bankeside, in the County of Surrey” (A5r; Induction.50); “the one and thirtieth day of Octob. 1614” (A5r; Induction.52). The next night it was acted by the same company at Whitehall in the presence of King James. The Chamber Accounts record a payment of £10 on 11 June 1615 “To Nathan Feilde in the behalfe of himselfe and the rest of his fellowes… for presentinge a play called Bartholomewe faire before his Matie on the firste of November last paste” (Cook with Wilson 60). It seems most likely that the performance took place in the Banqueting House (Sturgess 174-75; Astington 249).
Antonio Brunati, King's Company Scenekeeper (1664-65)
Juan A. Prieto-Pablos
One of the most important innovations that the reopening of the theatres in 1660 brought was the introduction of scenery, yet there is barely any substantial information on who was in charge of the design and construction of scenic pieces and of their handling before, during and after performances. The records of theatrical activities for the period 1660-1700 are very scant, and are much more so with regard to this particular aspect; they are mostly limited to several lists of company personnel in the Lord Chamberlain’s office, which identify some employees as “scenekeepers” only by their name and the dates in which they were sworn in as members of the theatre companies.1 But these references are – to say the least – confusing, as it is not always possible to associate a name with a definite date; and they are also probably incomplete. What can be gathered from these sources concerns mainly personnel attached to the King’s Company – some fifty in all – whereas the references to servants at the Duke’s Company are much sparser.
Frederick Balsir Chatterton and the Critics
Frederick Balsir Chatterton (183486) was the lessee of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, from 1866 to 1879. He was the last person in charge of Drury Lane to take seriously its claim to be the National Theatre. He was also, not coincidentally, the last to be bankrupted by it. He enjoyed great success for a number of years but is now remembered, if he is remembered at all, for his famous aphorism that “Shakespeare spelt ruin and Byron bankruptcy” (The Times, 24 August 1869, 10).
Chatterton came from a musical family.1 His two uncles, Frederick and John Balsir Chatterton, were the two most famous British harpists of the time, and the harp might be said to have run in the family. His own father, Edward, had refused to go down the harp route, and embarked on a career in the front-of-house of various London theatres, to the disapproval of his father and brothers. As if to make amends for letting his family down, Edward insisted that his own son should become a maestro of the harp, but growing up backstage at Sadler’s Wells inspired a love of theatre in young Frederick Balsir Chatterton that caused him to resist the call of the harp and pursue a career in theatre.
The Adelphi Theatre Calendar
Gilbert B. Cross
Since the Calendar first came online, a variety of questions has been sent to the General Editor mainly requests for clarifications of dates and queries about appearances of specific performers. In most instances, I as General Editor was able to help. It was clear, however, that many scholars were surprised to discover the Calendar existed, and all those of us involved in its construction hope this announcement will make the presence of the Calendar more widely appreciated, because the project’s primary goal is to be of use to theatre scholars, historians, and their readers.
We note with pleasure the Calendar’s use by Jacky Bratton in writing the entry for Jane Margaret Scott, the originator of the Sans Pareil Theatre (which in time became the Adelphi Theatre), in the Dictionary of National Biography. Perhaps the most notable event at the Adelphi was the murder of William Terriss by Richard Archer. Future biographers will find our daily accounts of Breezy Bill’s performances an invaluable guide.
Eighteenth Century Drama: Censorship, Society and the Stage. An Online Resource.
The Censorship of British Drama 1900-1968. Volume Four: The Sixties
British Musical Theatre Since 1950
Robert Gordon, Olaf Jubin, and Millie Taylor
The Britannia Panopticon Music Hall and Cosmopolitan Entertainment Culture
Were Property Booths Used in the First Performance of Jonson’s Bartholomew Fair? –§– Antonio Brunati, King’s Company Scenekeeper (1664-65) –§– Frederick Balsir Chatterton and the Critics –§– The Adelphi Theatre Calendar.