Boar's Head Playhouse [The]

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1st Edition

230 x 150 mm. 238pp Illustrated.... [In stock in Australia, for immediate delivery]

The Boar's Head was one of the play-houses built in London during Shakespeare's lifetime and at virtually the same time as the famous Globe. Herbert Berry traces the history of this playhouse largely from contemporary documents, many of them not used before. He is able to explain many of the physical characteristics of the playhouse, which were quite different from those of such places as the Swan, Globe, and Fortune, and much of the way the playhouse operated in its heyday.

The Boar's Head was built rather tentatively in an inn, from which it took its name, during the summer of 1598. Having proved successful during its first year, it was expensively rebuilt as one of the regular public playhouses during the summer following. It was the third playhouse of the time to receive a formal license, after the Globe and Fortune, and famous actors such as Thomas Heywood, Will Kempe, John Duke, John Lowin, and Christopher Beeston played on its stage.

The playhouse was built by two partners, Oliver Woodliffe and Richard Samwell the elder. They had neatly divided the responsibilities and rewards of the place between them, but the rebuilding proved too costly, and before the year was out, both had withdrawn. Two new partners took over, Robert Browne, an actor, and Francis Langley, who had built the Swan and having recently failed there was making a wild attempt to recoup. Not surprisingly, the Boar's Head fell at once into furious lawsuits. They spread into six courts and involved both the old and new partners and even a company of players. These lawsuits came to be a melodramatic tragedy as telling, perhaps, as tragedies attempted on the stage. They caused violent action, like several raids on the playhouse by armed men (and one woman) and a lively rescue of one of the litigants as he was being taken to prison. They encompassed the deaths of all the partners, old and new, and they ended only in 1603 when the great plague of that year carried off the two partners still alive.

We know little about the history of the place thereafter, except that it ceased to exist as a playhouse toward the end of the second decade of the 17th century, the first of its contemporaries to fall silent. The name Boar's Head continued to be associated with the site, however, until 1964, when the area was re-organised. Now much of the site is covered by the sidewalk around the eastern corner of Middlesex Street and Whitechapel High Street, and the name is used there no more.

C. Walter Hodges has drawn 12 illustrations to show what the Boar's Head was like - as an inn, as the tentative playhouse of 1598, and as the regular public playhouse of 1599.
^ Drama ^ Shakespeare


SKU 9780918016812
Barcode # 9780918016812
Brand AUP
Artist / Author Herbert BERRY

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