“Arden of Faversham” (Anonymous)

This play was bloodthirsty and hilarious, a mix I am seeing more often in Early Modern plays. Could we read more of John Lyly’s plays?


Marlowe’s “The Massacre at Paris” (Jenny Chen)

A few thoughts on what I remember from last week:
Some Paper Stagers were old-timers, I think, and the flair they added (not to mention Dr. Forbes’ mini-harmonica!) was wonderful in helping more people relax and settle down into their roles. It was also interesting to observe the freshers (like me) trying out lines and sliding into character — at first some lines might have been slightly mechanical but in the middle, as the plot thickened and more people were (unfortunately?) involved, you could sense people trying out twists and variations in the way they delivered (perhaps more movement and gestures would have helped loosening up even more — what little could be achieved in chairs anyway!), as if they were fitting their hands into a new glove, flexing, stretching, and maneuvering inside their newly acquired skins.​
I was actually wondering at several points about what became of Margaret in the play, since she seemed to simply disappear into thin air…
The version you read from had the stage directions “The Lord Admiral is found in bed”, but the one I read from (and by far the prevailing version I was able to hunt down on the Internet) had them like this: “Enter the Admiral in his bed”, and it killed me. I guess I took it too literally at first sight, but this misinterpretation of mine did seem very, very, unexpectedly (and therefore all the more) comical. This also led me to wonder if stage directions in Early Modern drama proved even more volatile than lines? To what degree were they consistent (I’m guessing consistency was a direct result of the development of print?)?

Locally relevant plays (Patrick O’Connor)

On the theme of locally relevant plays of the period, there are a couple of others you may know. A Christian Turn’d Turk by Robert Daborne, a tragedy, printed in 1612. This has some points of comparison with The Jew of Malta – set in the Mediterranean with battles between Christians and Turks (Muslims), this one with a pirate from Faversham as main protagonist. The other is A Shoemaker, A Gentleman, a tragi-comedy by William Rowley, written about 1618, about two Christian noblemen (Crispin and Crispianus, later made saints) in flight from Roman governors in Canterbury – they hide out in Faversham (again!).

“Gallathea” (Patrick O’Connor)

It’s already a bit of a blur in my aged brain, but the meeting of PaperStage reading Gallathea – the second I’ve attended – demonstrated some of the virtues of communal over personal, silent reading. There are four that struck me.

Gallathea photo 2The individual characters were clearly made more vivid by having a voice. And, through this, I found I could better experience and understand some of the cut and thrust of the drama and, more particularly, the contrasting moods from scene to scene.

The comic elements – often dead and buried in a complex text – were also brought to life.

Perhaps most of all, because the whole of the Gallathea photo 1play is taken at a single sitting and because the character arcs are more obvious, its shape and intentions, style and manner are easier to appreciate.

Finally – though not invariably the case – I thought it’s possible that a difficult text is plainer when spoken aloud. I certainly found this to be true of our reading of Gallathea. I’d read the text before the gathering and had to concentrate very hard to divine its meaning. In the voice of a reader who understands the text – who knows what is meant to be dramatic, or funny, or pathetic – the meaning suddenly shines through. That happened frequently during the reading. I’m looking forward to more.