< Theatre Notebook
Vol. 71, No. 3
Mucedorus: From Revision to Nostalgia
Mucedorus, written and first performed in London in the early 1590s, is a play about a prince who adopts a disguise and undertakes a journey to see if a princess is as beautiful as he has heard. Along the way he eliminates threats to himself and her, finally revealing his identity and proposing marriage. The result is the union of two kingdoms in an emphatically comic conclusion that playgoers would have found it easy to enjoy. But this simple play has an intriguing history that invites investigation. There are essentially two versions of Mucedorus, one printed in the first quarto of 1598 (hereafter Q1) and again in 1606 (Q2), and the other in the third quarto of 1610 (Q3) and a remarkable fifteen subsequent editions up to 1668. The differences between the two versions are the result of 215 lines, almost certainly not by the original author, added to the earlier version to create the version printed in Q3, which is advertised on its title page as “Amplified with new additions”.
Trade, Taverns, and Touring Players in Seventeenth-Century Bristol
John H. Astington
The playbill: The accompanying photograph shows a playbill dating from the early 1630s preserved at the British Library (C.18.e.2), in a large folio volume of miscellaneous items.
The bill, some five and three-quarters by seven and a half inches in size (146 mm x 190 mm), shows the characteristics of a once common form of cheap print, composed in the black-letter type which marked public proclamations, catching the eye with its ornamental border and decorated initial capital, and detailing the attractions of the announced show, featuring rope walking and dancing by infant phenomena, and various kinds of juggling and legerdemain. The nature of the acts allows us to identify to identify the troupe, I believe, a matter to which I turn shortly. This particular playbill, one remaining exemplar of multiple copies, was specifically printed, in London, to serve the troupe of performers on tour: the carefully described show remained the same throughout the touring season, but the venue, left blank in the printed copy, was filled in by hand to suit the local arrangements from town to town.
Zoffany Paintings of Garrick at the Bowes Museum
A recent exhibition at The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, County Durham, to celebrate the three hundredth anniversary of David Garrick’s birth, included two rarely seen works by Johann Zoffany that are now permanently at the museum. Painted in 1762 they illustrate Garrick with Mary Bradshaw in Garrick’s play The Farmer’s Return from London [Plate 1] and with Mrs Cibber in Thomas Otway’s Venice Preserv’d [Plate 2]. The paintings were sold by Garrick’s widow, Eva Marian, at Christie’s in 1823. Having remained in a family’s ownership until recently, they were transferred to the Nation, through the Acceptance in Lieu scheme, administered by the Arts Council, and placed in the care of the Bowes Museum.
Succeeding the Siddons: Eliza O'Neill and the Triumph of the Romantic Style
At the beginning of 1812, Sarah Siddons gave a series of farewell performances in preparation for her announced retirement later that year. These performances gave observers a chance to comment upon the legacy of the great actress, as well as to express concern over the fact that no leading tragedienne seemed poised to take her place. The celebration of Siddons could not help but be tinged with an anxiety about the future of the stage. In appreciating the accomplishments of the actress, observers noted the absence they foresaw after her departure. How could anyone hope to take her place? Without Siddons, whatever would become of the drama?
Seeing Siddons in Edward Moore’s The Gamester on 21 April 1812, Henry Crabb Robinson wrote in his diary…
Early Modern Staging of Throne Scenes.
Alan C. Dessen
Scenes involving thrones or chairs of state are plentiful in Elizabethan, Jacobean, and Caroline drama. Moreover, dialogue evidence and a few stage directions suggest that, in addition to the royal seat, the stage property could include a canopy and a platform or steps by which a figure could ascend or descend or on which a second figure could be seated. Comparable large properties such as beds and scaffolds were thrust onto the stage, and occasionally a figure is directed to enter in or on a bed (for example, “A bed thrust out upon the stage, Allwit’s wife in it” in Thomas Middleton, A Chaste Maid in Cheapside, 3.1.0),1 but the evidence for how a widely-used property such as a throne would have been brought on is surprisingly scanty and perplexing.
Readers familiar with the received wisdom on such matters may be surprised at such a statement, for they will be aware of three items that would seem to resolve any doubts. First is Philip Henslowe’s diary which lists “Itm pd for carpenters worke & mackinge the throne In the heuenes the 4 of June 1595” (p. 7).
Shakespeare, Court Dramatist
English Drama from Everyman to 1660: Performance and Print
Imagining Spectatorship: From the Mysteries to the Shakespearean Stage
John J. McGavin and Greg Walker
The Publication of Plays in London 1660-1800: Playwrights, Publishers and the Market
Judith Milhous and Robert D. Hume
Women and Shakespeare in the Eighteenth Century
Theatre in Education in Britain: Origins, Development and Influence
George Bernard Shaw in Context
Brad Kent (ed.)
Mucedorus: From Revision to Nostalgia –§– Trade, Taverns, and Touring Players in Seventeenth-Century Bristol –§– Zoffany Paintings of Garrick at the Bowes Museum –§– Succeeding the Siddons: Eliza O’Neill and the Triumph of the Romantic Style –§– Early Modern Staging of Throne Scenes.