Monday, 30 May 2016

30 May, 1592 - Tamar Cam

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

Henslowe writes: R at tambercame the 18 26 of maye 1592 ... xxxvjs vjd

In modern English: Received at Tamar Cam, 30th May, 1592 ... 36 shillings and sixpence

Today's entry presents a puzzle. A month ago, Lord Strange's Men introduced a new play called The Second Part of Tamar Cam. This was one of two lost plays about the Mongol conqueror Hulagu Khan, and you can read about them in the entry for 28th April. The company revived The Second Part on 12th May. But today's entry refers only to Tamar Cam, without specifying that it was second part. And for the remainder of this season, Henslowe will continue to write the title only as Tamar Cam.

So, is this Part 1 or Part 2? Are the players continuing to perform The Second Part and Henslowe is simply abbreviating its title?  Or have the players given up on The Second Part and are reviving the original Tamar Cam instead? We don't know.

But either way, we must suspect that The Second Part of Tamar Cam has been a big disappointment. Although, like all new plays at the Rose, its premiere was very popular, it was a long time before the company peformed it again, and, when they finally did, it received only average box office (unlike most new plays, which sank to that level only gradually). If today's performance was of The Second Part, it would show an even further decline in the box office. And if it was The First Part, it would mean that the company had already given up on the sequel, and had blown the dust off the original to see if that would do any better ... and it didn't.

Persian illustration of Hulagu Khan (the likely inspiration for Tamar Cam) and his Christian wife


Tamar Cam information

  • Martin Wiggins, British Drama, 1533-1642: A Catalogue, vol. 3 (Oxford University Press, 2013), entries 906 and 925.
  • Sally-Beth MacLean and Lawrence Manley, Lord Strange's Men and their Plays (Yale University Press, 2014), 138-43.
  • David McInnis, "Tamar Cham, Parts 1 and 2", Lost Plays Database (2016). 

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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