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.