Last month, archaeologist Stephen White of University College London announced the discovery of the Red Lion site, an often-forgotten Elizabethan playhouse that is the earliest we know of. Theatre historian Holger Syme discusses the implications of this discovery, especially the way that archaeological discoveries of the past thirty-five years seem to be cumulatively disproving the idea of the thrust stage.
For more on the earliest years of the London playhouses, see Holger’s theatre history posts on his website, http://www.dispositio.net, as well as the Before Shakespeare project, on the earliest years of the London playhouses, for which Holger is an advisor, BeforeShakespeare.com.
Like so many early modern performances, this film guest stars his very excited dog…
John Heywood played, wrote and worked for Henry Tudor and each of his three legitimate children. Greg Walker has written the first full literary biography of Heywood, and shows us how he engaged directly with the politics of his period. We also hear about Heywood’s later celebrity reputation and the importance of using performance to explore early Tudor plays.
David McInnis and Matt Steggle tell us about their work on the lost plays of Shakespeare’s period, when plays are much more likely to be lost than to survive. They share insights into the wealth of information we have on lost plays and the theatrical culture they were part of.
Chris Goode explores theatre as a live art based in community, encounters and conversation, a frame saying “now pay attention to this”. He talks us through his work, especially his online anthology of spoken word, What Words, and asks when, where and why we need language to work really hard as a container for the things we want to say.
Harry Newman tells us about the idea of fictional character as a kind of ‘virtual human’ or ‘models of humanity’. We hear about spacious fictional worlds on TV and in the early modern playhouse, and Harry asks if the early modern period had the concepts of the paywall and reboot, and considers literature and performance as an ‘ongoing experiment in world-building’.
Ambereen Dadabhoy tells us about the early modern Mediterranean, the English playhouse and the history of race. We hear about the lack of racial literacy in early modern studies, the way ‘a white way of knowing’ has dominated scholarship, and how to ‘follow the lead of those who have championed racial literacy’.
Director Kimberley Sykes describes her work in the rehearsal room as focused on generosity, conversation and ‘absolute presence’, and tells us about her work for the Royal Shakespeare Company on Shakespeare’s As You Like It and Marlowe and Nashe’s Dido, Queen of Carthage. She emphasises collective authorship, conversation and collaboration in the rehearsal room, and explores the idea of real and psychological space in her work. She also tells us about her current list of lockdown reading.
Theatremaker Emma Frankland talks us through contemporary, devised and classical performance, taking in Ghostbusters, Don Quixote and John Lyly’s Galatea, and ranging from Jerwood Arts, Shakespeare’s Globe, Roehampton University, Cornish beaches and Stratford, Ontario.
Alison Bomber, voice coach, tells us about making the ‘right noise’, using breath and vibration to make connections between sounds, bodies and imagination. You’ll never think about inspiration in the same way again.
The early modernists Derek Dunne, Tom Harrison and Paul Salzman get together from their own places of social isolation to discuss plague and social isolation in Ben Jonson’s early seventeenth-century play, The Alchemist.