Blogs by Greg Doran

At Stationers' Hall

January 12, 2011

The secretary's hand is light and efficient. I wonder if Moseley himself was dictating his list, while the clerk copied down the titles. It strikes me that paying over a pound to secure the right to publish these plays is quite an investment. It also makes me wonder if the reason he wants to make sure that he has the right to publish The History of Cardenio is that there are other copies around and someone else might decide to publish theirs.

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The closure of the theatres

January 12, 2011

There is no record of a revival performance of Cardenio after the Globe burned down in 1613. Records for any performances are scarce. But I suspect any revival in the plays fortunes would have been directly linked with England's political relations with Spain.

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Did Cardenio go up in flames?

January 7, 2011

Are perhaps the parts or the foul papers of the Spanish play they were doing at court three weeks ago lying around on a shelf somewhere. And is that what happens? Shakespeare and Fletcher's play goes up in smoke? Well, it would seem not.

But we hear no more of Cardenio for forty years.

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A Memorable Masque

January 7, 2011

Masques, as a character in Beaumont and Fletcher's The Maid's Tragedy says, are 'tied to rules of flattery'. And perhaps at a wedding, royal or not, we all understand the etiquette required. But it does seem odd, if Cardenio was indeed written for this particular nuptial, that scenes in which a wedding is presented where the bride is forced against her will to marry...

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'Inventions rare' - the Wedding Masques of 1613

January 7, 2011

On reading this description I find myself becoming intrigued. Perhaps this will have some bearing on how the actor playing Cardenio would have been expected to depict his madness?

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Souring relationships

January 5, 2011

We have no idea if the June 8th performance represents the last performance of Cardenio, but it is possible that three weeks later the script was lost forever.

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The death of princes

January 5, 2011

Shakespeare and Fletcher were ready with a new play on a Spanish subject. They had taken their subject from the global blockbuster which had just emerged from Spain, Don Quixote. Cardenio could well have been the highlight of the season. But suddenly the entire festivity was placed in jeopardy, when that November, the Prince of Wales suddenly died.

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The Future Henry IX

January 5, 2011

In these blogs, I am chasing the story of the political rows which were simmering at Court leading up to Christmas 1612, when Cardenio was first performed. I want to find out why Shakespeare and Fletcher had chosen to write a play with a Spanish subject.

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Princess Elizabeth

December 21, 2010

It is odd how one's eyes and ears become particularly sensitive when you are researching a project - attuned to any possible connection that might be useful or interesting. Even though we are pressed for time, I am inclined to make a detour...

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A Royal Wedding - Christmas 1612

December 21, 2010

As the happy couple, Frederick and admired Elizabeth, sat in the Banqueting Hall at Whitehall to watch the King's Men perform The Tempest, there must have been a frisson of recognition as the goddesses in the masque blessed the union of Prince Ferdinand and the admired Miranda (both bride and groom had turned sixteen that August). But Frederick was a German prince, and one of the staunchest Protestant princes in Europe. What on earth was Shakespeare doing adapting the latest hit novel from Catholic Spain?...

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Teaching Shakespeare