Friday, 15 November 2019

15 November, 1595 - The Seven Days of the Week

Here's what the Admiral's Men performed at the Rose playhouse on this day, 424 years ago...

Henslowe writes: ye 15 of novmbȝ  1595 ... R at vij dayes ... xviij  
In modern English: 15th November, 1595 ... Received at Seven Days ... 18 shillings

Today, the Admiral's Men revived their enigmatic lost play The Seven Days of the Week, about which we know nothing beyond its title. Perhaps it was an anthology of seven short plays, or perhaps it was about the creation of the world. You can read more about it in the entry for 3rd June.


19th-century Italian bracelet illustrating each of the seven days of
the week with a portrait of the deity associated with it.
From the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

The company may be settling into a routine of performing The Seven Days of the Week once a fortnight, as it is no longer the crowd-pleaser that it once was.


What's next?


There will be no blog entry tomorrow as 16th November was a Sunday in 1595 and the players did not perform. Neither will there be one on the 17th, as Henslowe records no performance, for unknown reasons. Henslowe's Diary ... as a Blog! will thus return on the 18th. See you then!

Henslowe links



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Thursday, 14 November 2019

14 November, 1595 - A Toy to Please Chaste Ladies

Here's what the Admiral's Men performed at the Rose playhouse on this day, 424 years ago...

Henslowe writes: ye 14 of novmbȝ 1595 ... ne ... R at a toye to please my ladey ... ljs 

In modern English: 14th November, 1595 ... New ... Received at A Toy to Please My Lady ... 51 shillings

Two Women at a Window by Murillo (1655-60)
Today, the Admiral's Men performed a new play. It is now lost, which is a shame because its title, A Toy to Please My Lady, is intriguing. In future entries, Henslowe will refer to it instead as A Toy to Please Chaste Ladies; it's not clear whether he is correcting an earlier mistake or whether the players changed the title, perhaps to avoid salacious connotations.

One could certainly suspect a double entendre in this title, since "toy" could refer to male naughty bits in Elizabethan times. However, it more commonly refers to something frivolous or trivial, and one interpretation of the title might thus be "a bit of nonsense for the women in the audience". If so, its self-deprecation is reminiscent of Shakespeare's titles Much Ado About Nothing and As You Like It.

Sadly, that is as much information as can be gleaned from today's entry. But whatever the play's subject, it attracted an audience that would be considered large on an ordinary day, but rather disappointing for a premiere. Perhaps the menfolk took the advice of the title and stayed away...


FURTHER READING


A Toy to Please Chaste Ladies information


  • Martin Wiggins, British Drama, 1533-1642: A Catalogue, vol. 3 (Oxford University Press, 2013), entry 1018.


Henslowe links



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Wednesday, 13 November 2019

13 November, 1595 - Tamburlaine, Part Two

Here's what the Admiral's Men performed at the Rose playhouse on this day, 424 years ago...

Henslowe writes: ye 13 of novmbȝ 1595 ... R at 2 pt of tambrlen ... xxxijs

In modern English: 13th November, 1595 ... Received at Second Part of Tamburlaine ... 32 shillings

The mausoleum of Timur (or Tamburlaine)
in Samarkand
Today, for the last time, the Admiral's Men performed the sequel to Tamburlaine, in which the conqueror of Asia meets his inevitable doom; you can read more about this play in the entry for 19th December, 1594.

Yesterday was the last ever recorded performance of Tamburlaine at the Rose. And today is the final performance of its sequel. In fact The Second Part of Tamburlaine has attracted a decent sized crowd - in general, it has been more popular than part one. Despite this, the company is abandoning it too; presumably they feel that it doesn't work a a stand-alone play.


Henslowe links



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Tuesday, 12 November 2019

12 November, 1595 - Tamburlaine

Here's what the Admiral's Men performed at the Rose playhouse on this day, 424 years ago...

Henslowe writes: ye 12 of novmbȝ 1595 ... R at j pte of tamberlen ... xviijs 

In modern English: 12th November, 1595 ... Received at First Part of Tamburlaine ... 18 shillings

Illustration of the historical Tamburlaine
from Richard Knolles' General History

of the Turks (1603).
Today, for the last time, the players performed the first part of Tamburlaine, Christopher Marlowe's spectacular epic about the bloodthirsty conqueror of Asia. You can read more about this play in the entry for 30th August.

The players have been staging Marlowe's classic only once every few months. This is a puzzling tactic for such a huge and complex play. And the rewards have been minimal for a long time; today's box office is deeply unimpressive. It may be no surprise, then, that this is the last recorded performance of Tamburlaine at the Rose; presumably the players decided that they no longer saw a purpose in remounting it.

There are records of Tamburlaine being performed later, in the seventeenth century, so this is not the end of the road for Marlowe's epic. And its influence will continue to be felt on English drama for a long time. But for the Admiral's Men at least, this is the day they big farewell to an old legend.


Henslowe links



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Monday, 11 November 2019

11 November, 1595 - The Disguises

Here's what the Admiral's Men performed at the Rose playhouse on this day, 424 years ago...

Henslowe writes: ye 10 of novmbȝ 1595 ... R at desgysses ... xvs 

In modern English: [11th] November, 1595 ... Received at Disguises ... 15 shillings

Lorenzo Lippi, Woman with a Mask
(The Allegory of Deception)
, 1650
Today, the company revived The Disguises, a lost play about... disguises. You can read more about it in the entry for 2 October.

After receiving a much healthier audience on its last performance, thanks to the holiday of All Saints Day, The Disguises returns back to the doldrums for today's staging.


Henslowe links



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Sunday, 10 November 2019

10 November, 1595 - Longshanks

Here's what the Admiral's Men performed at the Rose playhouse on this day, 424 years ago...

Henslowe writes: ye 9 of novmbȝ  1595 ... R at longshancke ... xxxiijs 

In modern English: [10th] November, 1595 ... Received at Longshank ... 33 shillings

Portrait of Edward I in
Westminster Abbey
Today, the Admiral's Men returned to Longshanks, their play about King Edward I of England; you can read more about it in the entry for 29 August.

The company continues with their practice of performing Longshanks approximately once every three weeks. This tactic seems to be paying off by keeping the audience at a comfortably average size each time.

Henslowe links



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Friday, 8 November 2019

8 November, 1595 - The Wise Man of West Chester

Here's what the Admiral's Men performed at the Rose playhouse on this day, 424 years ago...

Henslowe writes: mr p... R at weschester ... xxs 
In modern English: Master paid ... Received at West Chester ... 20 shillings

A man, who might possibly be
wise, carved on the choir
stalls of Chester Cathedral
Today, the Admiral's Men staged The Wise Man of West Chester, a lost play that appears to have been about a wizard in the English city of Chester; you can read more about it in the entry for 3 December, 1594.

Today's entry is odd, lacking a date and instead informing us that some unknown "master" was paid. But whatever the first part means, it is clear that 9th November was the day on which the company decided to revive The Wise Man of West Chester after three weeks. It has returned slightly better box office than it did last time.


What's next?


There will be no blog entry tomorrow because 9 November was a Sunday in 1595 and the players did not perform. Henslowe's Diary ... as a Blog! will thus return on the 11th for a week in which we will meet a new play and say goodbye to two old ones. See you then!

Henslowe links



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