Monday, 16 January 2017

16 January, 1593 - 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 6 the 16 of Jenewary 1593 ... xxxxvjs

In modern English: Received at Harry VI, 16th January, 1593 ... 46 shillings

1540s portrait of King
Henry VI
Today, for the first time in their new season at the Rose, Lord Strange's Men revived their popular history play Harry VI. This play was almost certainly Shakespeare's First Part of Henry VIyou can read more about it in the blog entry for 3rd March 1592.

It is surprising that the company waited nearly 3 weeks to mount Harry VI at the Rose. After allit had been the most frequently performed play of their previous season. In their book on Lord Strange's Men, Lawrence Manley and Sally-Beth Maclean suggest a possible reason. They propose that the company had not been performing Harry VI during their long tour of England because it required too many actors and other resources; as a result, they were out of practice at performing it when they returned to London, and needed a few weeks to re-learn their lines and prepare to stage it again.

This theory is interesting because it suggests that the plays we've seen the company perform so far may be the ones they had been performing on tour. It may explain why they have staged the catastrophically unpopular Sir John Mandeville more than once - perhaps it had been popular in the provinces and the players were now slowly re-aligning themselves back to London's tastes?

Further reading

  • Lawrence Manley and Sally-Beth Maclean, Lord Strange's Men and their Plays (Yale University Press, 2014), 274-5.

Henslowe links


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