Posts tagged ‘fool’s motley’

January 17, 2014

A New Play

called Canterburie His Change of Diot. Which sheweth variety of wit and mirth : privately acted neare the Palace-yard at Westminster….Anon  (well it would be wouldn’t it?) 1641

Not so much a play, more a short series of sketches which probably lasted no more than five minutes, this is a scurrilous portrait and morality tale of Archbishop Laud in four acts. There are three illustrations that go with the text.

Act 1, the Bishop of Canterbury having a variety of dainties, is not satisfied till he be fed with tippets of mens ears. Enter the Bishop of Canterbury, and with him a Doctor of Physicke, a Lawyer and a Divine; who being set down, they bring him variety of Dishes to his Table…He knocking there enter divers Bishops with muskets on their necks, bandeleeres and swords by their sides.

Here is the jolly crew around the table. Archbish second on the left, I assume the  divine next with the ruff and the lawyer seated to his left. I think the doctor is standing far left, but he also looks like a serving man in doublet and breeches. A doctor ought to be wearing a gown. The  two bishops on the right have the aforementioned muskets and bandoliers.

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 11.39.57

 

 

Act 2, he hath his nose held to the Grinde-stone. Enter the Bishop of Canterbury into a Carpenters yard by the water side, where he is going to take water, and seeing a Grindle-stone, draweth his knife, and goeth thither to whet it, and the Carpenter follows him.

This is in retaliation for the cutting off of the ears in act one it would seem. The Carpenter is in doublet and breeches with a small brimmed hat and wide linen band. The boy turning the wheel is dressed similarly, though it would seem he has the short “roundhead” hair cut of an apprentice and is also wearing a short apron.

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 11.40.12

 

 

Act 3 he is put into a bird Cage with the Confessor. Enter the Bishop of Canterbury, and the Jesuit in a great Bird Cage together and a fool standing by, and laughing at them, Ha ha, ha, he, who is the fool now.

Here they are in the cage, the fool on the right is wearing the standard cap with bells and a cloak over doublet and breeches.

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 11.40.40

 

Act 4 The Jester tells the King the Story.

Sadly no pictures!

 

 

Advertisements
October 31, 2013

A Pleasant Comedy

Called a Mayden-head Well Lost. As it hath beene publickly acted at the Cocke-pit in Drury-land with much Applause by her Majesties Servants. Written by Thomas Heywood. First published in 1634 this was a popular play that was reprinted several times. The plot was typically labyrinthine and involved Julia the daughter of the Duke of Milan who discovers she is pregnant just before she is supposed to be marrying the Prince of Parma.

The introductory ‘Letter to the Reader’ is interesting as in sounds a note of caution to indicate that innocent entertainment like this might become a bone of contention: ‘this can be drawn within the critical censure of that most horrible Histriomatix, whose uncharitable doome having damned all such to the flames of Hell, hath itself already suffered a most remarkeable fire here upon earth’. Histriomatix was written by the puritan William Prynne and was a scathing attack on the Rennaissance theatre and festivals such as Christmas. It was a foretaste of the religious turmoil that was just around the corner.

The image is an engraving from the front page and shows a scene from the play. Most of the men are dressed in doublet, hat and falling band, but note the clown on the right of the table in a long checkered petticoat and striped hat. This was the uniform of the fool; Tom Skelton of Muncaster Castle, the original Tom Fool was roughly contemporary and was painted in a similar garb. Julia is pictured in a petticoat, bodice and a decorated collar.

 

Screen Shot 2013-10-31 at 16.15.06