Reverend Productions and The Malone Society present:
A staged reading and symposium
Saturday 16 May, 10:30am-6:30pm
The Chapel, Somerville College, Woodstock Road, Oxford
The staged reading will commence at 11am. Speakers in the afternoon symposium will include Professor Tiffany Stern, Professor Katherine Duncan-Jones and Professor Sir Brian Vickers. Please see below for the full programme.
Most of us have a favourite Malone Society title. Add a dash of creativity and a photo, and you could win that volume.
We are launching our brand new photo competition today, and this is how you participate: 1) pick your favourite title from our list of publications (https://malonesociety.files.wordpress.com/…/malone-catalogu…) 2) Get creative: create a little scene with lego men, do a drawing, use sock-puppets – it’s all up to you, so long as the title is clear. 3) take a photo and post it to twitter or facebook with the hashtag #malsocphoto. Winners will be announced here, on twitter, and on facebook, and we will be picking a new one each month.
We are changing our Book of the Month scheme. We have gone through our entire catalogue at this point, and, not wishing to repeat ourselves, we will now be tailoring our offers to relevant events on the academic and performative early modern stage instead.
Check this space for future updates, and feel free to make suggestions regarding events you feel may be of interest – we always appreciate your comments.
The Book of the Month for December 2014 is Collections IX. If you’re a member of the Malone Society, take advantage of this great deal and buy a copy today for only £5.00 plus £3 postage! (The regular price is £15).
DECEMBER: Collections IX
The ultimate bargain! Five fascinating items, offering a range of insights into early modern theatrical practice for just £1.00 each!
Marvel at the costs and variety of items involved in mounting the Corpus Christi play, and a range of other dramatic entertainments, in sixteenth-century Sherborne (Dorset)!
Contrast the paucity of twenty-first-century theatrical companies touring the provinces with the number of prestigious troupes visiting Aldeburgh (or being paid not to visit Aldeburgh) from 1566 to 1635!
Re-live the delights of an Elizabethan jig!
Laugh at the activities of the citizens of John Tatham’s (?) seventeenth-century comedy!
Join the hunt for the authors of five fragmentary ‘waifs and strays’ of the Elizabethan-Jacobean stage, including the opening lines of ‘A stately Tragedy contayninge the ambitious life and death of the great Cham’, and part of a masque possibly performed by a juvenile troupe in the 1620s as part of the Christmas festivities in the house of Lord Grey.
The items included in the volume are from manuscript sources in a range of institutions, including the National Library of Wales, the Essex Record Office, the Folger Shakespeare Library, and the Huntington Library. They were edited by A.D. Mills, J.C. Coldewey, J.M. Nosworthy, J.L. Murphy and G.R. Proudfoot.
The Book of the Month for November 2014 is Tom a Lincoln. If you’re a member of the Malone Society, take advantage of this great deal and buy a copy today for only £5.00 plus £3 postage! (The regular price is £15).
NOVEMBER: Tom a Lincoln
Our Book of the Month for November is a tale of Arthurian legend, war, and fairy enticements as we follow Tom a Lincoln on his quest to discover the true identity of his father. Born the son of King Arthur, but abandoned and raised by a shepherd, Tom becomes discontented with his bucolic existence, deciding instead to recruit a band of outlaws and live as the Red Rose Knight. At Arthur’s court he comes to blows with the King Arthur, but redeems himself by thwarting a French invasion and is granted permission to travel in search of his true father. After six years he arrives in Fairyland, where he and his knights are seduced by the female inhabitants. He then moves on to the court of Prester John, and falls in love with the princess Anglitora, but is unable to marry her because he is a foreigner. You’ll have to read the play to discover if Tom and Anglitora get their happy ending, and whether Tom ever discovers the true identity of his father…
The Society’s edition is a diplomatic transcript of the unique MS, now Add. MS 61745 in the British Library. The introduction includes a discussion of the play’s links with the Shakespeare and Heywood canons.
The Book of the Month for October 2014 is Captain Thomas Stukeley. If you’re a member of the Malone Society, take advantage of this great deal and buy a copy today for only £5.00 plus £3 postage! (The regular price is £15).
OCTOBER: Captain Thomas Stukeley
October’s Book of the Month takes us from London to Africa as we follow the exploits of its eponymous protagonist. Thomas Stukeley’s father comes to visit him in London, only to find his son neglecting his legal career and living beyond his means. Only three days after marrying Nell Curtis and paying off his creditors with his father-in-law’s money, Thomas decides to leave the law behind to seek honour on the battlefield. We follow him to Ireland, Spain, Portugal, and Africa in his quest, but will his conscience get the better of him in his work for the double-dealing King Philip of Spain? For which side will he choose to fight? Will Captain Thomas Stukeley make it out of Africa alive?
The Society’s edition is a type-facsimile of Thomas Pavier’s Quarto of 1605, printed by William Jaggard. The volume is of especial textual interest in that it contains two versions of the same scene, one in standard English and the other in Irish dialect.
The Book of the Month for September 2014 is The Marriage Between Wit and Wisdom. If you’re a member of the Malone Society, take advantage of this great deal and buy a copy today for only £5 plus £3 postage! (The regular price is £15).
SEPTEMBER: The Marriage Between Wit and Wisdom
Our Book of the Month for September tracks the adventures of Wit on his path to woo Wisdom, whom he has been ordered to marry on pain of losing his inheritance. On the way he is robbed by Idleness, bored by Honest Recreation, and imprisoned by Fancy. But will Wit and Wisdom finally tie the knot?
The Society’s edition is a diplomatic transcript of the unique MS (British Library, Add. MS 26782), which is of especial interest for its resemblance to a printed edition.
The Book of the Month for August 2014 is The Wasp. If you’re a member of the Malone Society, take advantage of this great deal and buy a copy today for only £5.00 plus £3 postage! (The regular price is £15.)
AUGUST: The Wasp
August’s Book of the Month is a tale of power struggles, usurpation and subterfuge in Roman Britain. The Prorex Marianus seizes power from Gilbert and establishes his corrupt favourite in a position of influence while Gilbert, faking his own death, disguises himself as ‘The Wasp’ in order to test the loyalty of his wife and son. But will Gilbert’s wife and son prove loyal? Will Marianus retain the throne? The metamorphosing banquet just might provide the answer…
The Society’s edition is a diplomatic transcript of the unique MS (Alnwick Castle, MS 507), an authorial copy annotated as part of the the process of creating the play’s prompt-book for the King’s Revels Company.
The Book of the Month for July 2014 is The Taming of a Shrew. If you’re a member of the Malone Society, take advantage of this great deal and buy a copy today for only £5.00 plus £3 postage! (The regular price is £15).
JULY: The Taming of A Shrew
Our Book of the Month for July is a significant text in the early history of a well-known play. Perhaps one of the most familiar stories of the period thanks to Shakespeare’s version, this Malone Society edition includes several key differences to the Bard’s play, including the situating of the action in Greece and providing elder sister Kate with not one, but two younger, much-desired sisters. The framing device involving the drunken Sly remains, yet here he plays a more active role, reappearing at the end of the play to intercede in the action, and indeed vowing to tame his own wife! This text would be a key addition to any Renaissance drama scholar’s bookshelf.
The Society’s edition is a photofacsimile of the Huntington copy of the 1594 First Quarto, the earliest play to be printed by Peter Short, who went on to print plays by Shakespeare, Jonson, and Samuel Daniel.
Are comedies meant to end happily? We’re often told this, but it’s easy to cite examples that don’t fit the bill. In Shakespearean comedy, we are left with unaccommodated figures like Shylock or Malvolio, while in Love’s Labour’s Lost death postpones the expected marriage. Jonson’s Volpone ends with punishment and the happy ending of Marston’s Antonio and Mellida turns out to be a ruse: in the tragic sequel, Antonio must avenge Mellida’s death. Renaissance dramatists devised a variety of ways to undercut the assumption that a comedy ends happily. To the long list of established comic undercutting must be added The Fair Maid of the Exchange, a curious play, of uncertain authorship, which was given a deserved outing in the form of a staged reading sponsored by the Malone Society and hosted by Somerville College, Oxford. A terrific cast, assembled at short notice by Edwina Christie and directed by Gerald Baker, used the full space of the Flora Anderson Hall to deliver a subtle and surprising production. As the illuminating post-show symposium discussion demonstrated, there were a number of points of interest: in the first session Martin Wiggins addressed the difficulties in attributing to the play a date, author, or playing company, Katherine Duncan-Jones discussed the play’s allusions to Shakespeare, Susan Anderson focused on the representation of disability, Tim Smith-Laing (who played the character known as ‘the Cripple’) talked about his experience acting in the play, and Baker commented on his experience directing it.
In the second session, Susan North offered an illustrated account of Jacobean embroidery and Rebecca Tomlin analysed the place of commerce in the play. In this post, however, I want to focus on the play’s oddly abrupt ending, which was so skilfully handled in the staged reading.
It’s first necessary to offer a brief and partial plot summary. In the play, two brothers, Antony (Peter van Dolen) and Ferdinand Golding (Ariel Levine) pursue the titular fair maid, the pleasingly alliteratively-named Phillis Flower (Edwina Christie). Phillis loves neither man but instead apparently unrequitedly loves the Cripple (Tim Smith-Laing) who, at the play’s outset, had bravely defended Philis and Ursula (Constance Greenfield) from an attack by the outlaws Bobbington and Scarlet (effectively doubled by the actors playing Antony and Ferdinand).
A third brother, Frank (Luke Rollason) also falls in love with Phillis but manages to hide his affection from his brothers. Calling upon a favour from the Cripple, he helps manipulate the situation to suit his own cause, winning the support of Master (Simon Tavener) and Mistress Flower (Lynn Randall) in the process. In the final scene, when the plot is revealed, Phillis must finally choose who she loves; after reflection, she chooses Frank.
On the one hand, this might be seen to be a fairly uncomplicated ending. Antony and Ferdinand have done nothing to suggest that they would be deserving husbands and the Cripple passes up on the opportunity to return Phillis’ love; Frank may be a somewhat underhanded and mischievous fellow, but he is also charismatic and clever. However, the production did a wonderful job of rendering such a reading problematic. The image of Phillis, surrounded by suitors, wavering before choosing Frank, was an evocative one. In the post-show discussion Tim Smith-Laing hinted at the difficulties in deciding how to play the Cripple’s reaction. Does he feign his disinterest in Phillis, or is he secretly in love with her? Is he happy about the arrangement? It’s difficult to tell, or for the actor to transmit that information, but the fact that the Cripple is a silent watcher for much of the final scene is instructive. Upon entering, he asks ‘‘Gentlemen sweet bloods, or brethren of familiarity,/I would speake with Phillis, shall I haue audience?’ (TLN 2587-8) He does not have audience; these are in fact, the last words he speaks in the play and the rest of the ending is played out around him. Some may feel glad about the prospective union of Phillis and Frank, but several spectators commented on feeling like the fair maid had made the wrong choice.
There may, then, already be misgivings among the audience before the final revelation, which causes a postponement to the festivities. Master Flower, the father of the bride-to-be, is unexpectedly arrested for (unknowingly, as it happens) possessing a stolen diamond. The play ends in infamy, as Flower says: ‘Words here are little worth, wife and friends all/Goe with me to my tryall, you shall see/A good conceit now brought to infamie’ (TLN 2690-2). In the day’s final discussion session, Caroline Barron suggested that this ending might offer a critique of the dark side of commerce; Flower is implicated in this seedy business even if not completely aware of his transgression. Again, the staging here drew out brilliantly the strangeness of the ending. The accusatory lines, spoken by Master Wood, were here delivered, to general surprise, by an audience member, Richard Proudfoot. The metatheatrical playfulness was certainly funny, but this staging also emphasised the jarring nature of the ending. The strangeness of his appearance may partly be to do with cuts made to the text, which slightly obscure the backstory of the diamond, but it was a smart and effective way to conclude this curious comedy. In the printed text, as well as in the performance, Wood emerges, like an inverse deus ex machina, not to solve a convoluted problem, but to cause one.