Wednesday, 7 April 2021

7 April, 1597 - Five Plays in One

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

Henslowe writes: 7 | ne | tt at v playes in one | 02 | 01
In modern English: 7th [April, 1597] ... total at Five Plays in One ... £2 and 1 shilling [i.e. 41 shillings].

The number 5 in a
column of figures
in Henslowe's Diary
Today, the Admiral's Men performed a new play! Unfortunately, it is yet another lost play, and its title tells us very little indeed, except that it was probably a collection of one-act plays, perhaps linked by some kind of narrative device. 

We have already encountered a lost play of this kind at the Rose, back in 1592, entitled Four Plays in One. And one theory about the lost Seven Days of the Week, is that it too was an anthology show.  We know of other lost plays of this kind, too. Thomas Middleton's one-act Yorkshire Tragedy (1607) was once part of an otherwise lost Four Plays in One. The only text of this form to survive in full is Four Plays, or Moral Representations, in One, written around 1614 by John Fletcher and his collaborators. 

Rosyln L. Knutson's entry on Five Plays in One for the Lost Plays Database describes how early theatre historians were over-imaginative in assuming that the playlets were on Classical subjects. In truth, we know nothing at all about their subject matter. All we know is their number. 

In terms of box office, Five Plays in One has not had an auspicious debut: the audience is small for a premiere, and it will need good word of mouth to be a success. 


Five Plays in One information

Henslowe links


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