The Hogge Hath Lost His Pearle: conference recap

As any Malone Society member will know, there are plenty of obscure Renaissance dramas that never have been and never will be, part of the widely read canon. The Hogge hath lost his Pearle is one such play. It’s unlikely to appear as a set-text on school curriculums or on stage at the RSC.

Which prompts the question: why bother with it at all? As the conference about the play revealed, however, even the most obscure dramas ought to be taken from the shelf and dusted off every once in a while. The conference took place on 22 September 2012 in Corpus Christi College, Oxford and was co-hosted by the Malone Society and the Faculty of English at Oxford. Participants of the event were treated to a delightful script-in-hand staged reading of the play (directed by: Elisabeth Dutton), which featured a young band of dancing wood nymphs and some pretty impressive, yet tricky, stage work with a ladder. This was followed by two panel discussions: one on performance aspects of the play led by Katherine Duncan Jones, and the other on the historical and textual context led by Lucy Munro.

These revealed that Tailor’s play used tropes and plot devices recognizable in the more widely read and canonical texts of the period, including a fake death, a woman who disguises herself as a man, an avaricious usurer, and a mad scene. The blending of generic modes and lapses in narrative chronology struck familiar chords when considered alongside plays such as The Winter’s Tale; the father/daughter relationship between Hogge and Rebecca was particularly relevant when compared to the relationship between Shylock and Jessica.

Though The Hogge Hath Lost His Pearle may never be considered a classic, seeing the play on its feet was the perfect way to redeem it from obscurity, allowing it a moment to shine as the centerpiece of a scholarly discussion.

Click here to down load the staged reading cast-list.

Kelley Costigan as Young Lord Wealthy
Kelley Costigan as Young Lord Wealthy
Brian McMahon as Haddit and Josh Endecott as Lightfoot
Brian McMahon as Haddit and Josh Endecott as Lightfoot
The dance of the Wood Nymphs
The dance of the Wood Nymphs
Feeling proud (and a little camera shy) after a great performance: Heather and Madeleine, two of the Wood Nymphs
Feeling proud (and a little camera shy) after a great performance: Heather and Madeleine, two of the Wood Nymphs
Martin Wiggins, Lucy Munro, and Katherine Duncan-Jones
Martin Wiggins, Lucy Munro, and Katherine Duncan-Jones

Upcoming Conference: The Hogge Hath Lost his Pearle

 Jointly with the English Faculty of Oxford, the Society is once again sponsoring a staged (and costumed) play-reading and mini-conference. This will take place in the splendidly re-furbished MBI Al Jaber auditorium in Corpus Christi, Oxford, which some members of the Society will remember as the Old Music Room, on Saturday 22nd September 2012. The play is Robert Tailor’s The Hogge hath lost his Pearle, which was published in a censored version in 1614 after a disastrous premiere at the Whitefriars the previous year. It was edited for the Society by D.F.McKenzie in 1967. The day’s programme will consist of a performance of the play in the morning, followed, after a light lunch, by two discussion sessions. The first will be led by Dr. Nicholas Shrimpton (Emeritus Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall), who will be playing the role of ‘Hogge’; the second by Dr. Lucy Munro (University of Keele), an expert on the children’s companies of the early Jacobean period.

For further details see the University of Oxford, Faculty of English page here.