Wednesday, 16 March 2016

16 March, 1592 - Harry VI

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

Henslowe writes: R at harey the 16 of marche 1591 ... xxxjs vjd 

In modern English: Received at Harry, 16th March 1592 ... 31 shillings

1540s portrait of King
Henry VI
Today, Lord Strange's Men performed Harry VI again. At least, I assume they did; Henslowe writes merely "Harry" which I suppose could refer to another play, Harry of Cornwall. But I doubt it. For Henslowe right now, there was only one Harry that mattered, and that was the instant blockbuster Harry VI. This play was almost certainly an alternate title for Shakespeare's First Part of Henry VIyou can read more about it in the blog entry for 3rd March.

This was the company's fourth staging of Harry VI within a fortnight, a very unusual frequency of performance. The players clearly wanted to milk this cash cow while it lasted. But its box office returns were now plummeting into mediocrity:

  • Friday, 3rd March - 75 shillings
  • Tuesday, 7th March - 60 shillings
  • Saturday, 11th March - 47 shillings
  • Thursday, 16th March - 31 shillings

31 shillings was not bad, but far less than the 75 the play had made on its premiere. Perhaps the frequent performances were a bad strategy for sustaining interest among the company's audience?

Henslowe links


Did I make a mistake? Do you have a question? Have you anything to add? Please post a comment below!

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