Imágenes de páginas


Time, place, subject, actors and clothes either make or mar a play. The prologue and epilogue are like to an host and hostess, one bidding their guests welcome, the other bidding them farewell. The actors are like servingmen, that bring in the scenes and acts as their meat, which are liked or disliked, according to every man's judgment; the neatest drest and fairest delivered doth please most. They are as crafty with an old play, as bawds with old faces; the one puts on a new fresh colour, the other a new face and name. They practise a strange order, for most commonly the wisest man is the fool. They are much beholden to scholars that are out of means, for they sell them ware the cheapest. They have no great reason to love Puritans, for they hold their calling unlawful. New plays and new clothes many times help bad actions. They pray the company that's in to hear them patiently, yet they would not suffer them to come in without payment. They say as scholars now use to say, there are so many, that one fox could find in his heart to eat his fellow. A player often changes: now he acts a monarch, to-morrow a beggar; now a soldier, next a tailor. Their speech is loud, but never extempore; he seldom speaks his own mind, or in his own name. When men are here, and when at church, they are of contrary minds; there they think the time too long, but here too short. Most commonly when the play is done, you shall have a jig or dance of all treads; they mean to put their legs to it, as well as their tongues. They make men wonder when they have done, for they all clap their hands. Sometimes they fly into the country; but 'tis a suspicion that they are either poor, or want clothes, or else company, or a new play: or do, as some wandering sermonists, make one sermon travail [?travel] and serve twenty churches. All their care is to be like apes, to imitate and express other men's actions in their own persons. They love not the company of geese or serpents, because of their hissing. They are many times lousy, it's strange, and yet shift so often. As an ale-house in the country is beholden to a wild schoolmaster, so an whore-house to some of these, for they both spend all they get. Well, I like them well, if when they act vice they will leave it, and when virtue they will follow. I speak no more of them, but when I please I will come and see them.

DONALD LUPTON, London and the Countrey carbonadoed 1632

English and Italian theatres compared

An Englishman in Venice

I was at one of their play-houses, where I saw a comedy acted. The house is very beggarly and base in comparison of our stately play-houses in England: neither can their actors compare with us for apparel, shews and music. Here I observed certain things that I never saw before. For I saw women act, a thing that I never saw before, though I have heard that it hath been sometimes used in London; and they performed it with as good a grace, action, gesture and whatsoever convenient for a player, as ever I saw any masculine actor. Also their noble and favourite courtezans came to this comedy, but so disguised, that a man cannot perceive them. For they wore double masks upon their faces, to the end they might not be seen; one reaching from the top of their forehead to their chin, and under their neck; another with twisks of downy or woolly stuff covering their noses. And as for their necks round about, they were so covered and wrapped with cobweb lawn and other things, that no part of their skin could be discerned. Upon their heads they wore little black felt caps very like to those of the clarissimoes that I will hereafter speak of. Also each of them wore a black short taffeta cloak. They were so graced, that they sat on high alone by themselves, in the best room of all the play-house. If any man should be so resolute to unmask one of them but in merriment only to see their faces, it is said that—were he never so noble or worthy a personage- he should be cut in pieces before he should come forth of the room, especially if he were a stranger. I saw some men also in the play-house, disguised in the same manner with double vizards: those were said to be the favourites of the same courtezans. They sit not here in galleries as we do in London; for there is but one or two little galleries in the house, wherein the courtezans only sit. But all the men do sit beneath in the yard or court, every man upon his several stool, for the which he payeth a gazet.

THOMAS CORYAT, Crudities 1611



Call hither to the stake my two brave bears,
That with the very shaking of their chains
They may astonish these fell-lurking curs.

Clifford. Are these thy bears? we'll bait thy bears to death
And manacle the bear-ward in their chains,

If thou dar'st bring them to the baiting-place.
Richard. Oft have I seen a hot o'er-weening cur

Run back and bite, because he was withheld;
Who, being suffer'd with the bear's fell paw,
Hath clapp'd his tail between his legs, and cried.
2 Henry VI., v. i. 144-154

This may better be termed a foul den than a fair garden. It's pity so good a piece of ground is no better employed. Here are cruel beasts in it, and as badly used; here are foul beasts come to it, and as bad or worse keep it; they are fitter for a wilderness than a city. Idle base persons (most commonly) that want employment, or else will not be otherwise employed, frequent this place; and that money which was got basely here, to maintain as bad as themselves, or spent lewdly. Here come few that either regard their credit or loss of time: the swaggering roarer, the cunning cheater, the rotten bawd, the swearing drunkard and the bloody butcher have their rendezvous here, and are of chief place and respect. There are as many civil religious men here, as they're saints in hell. Here these are made to fight by art which would agree by nature. They thrive most when the poor beasts fight oftenest: their employment is all upon quarrels as unlawful as unseemly. They cause the beasts first to fight, and then they put in first to part them. It's pity such beastly fellows should be so well maintained; they torment poor creatures, and make a gains and game of it. The beasts come forth with as ill a will, as bears to the stake. A bearward and an attorney are not much unlike; the attorney seems the more cruel, for these bait but beasts, but these men--their clients; the bear-ward strives to recover the hurts of his beasts, but the attorney regards not the damages of any, and they both follow the trade for profit. Well, I leave the place, and when I intend to spend an hour or two to see an ass and an ape to loss and charges, I may perhaps come hither: but as long as I can have any employment elsewhere, I will not come to see such a great company so ill occupied, in so bad a place.

DONALD LUPTON, London and the Countrey carbonadoed 1632

§3. The Audience

If the tag-rag people did not clap him and hiss him, according as he pleased and displeased them, as they use to do the players in the theatre, I am no true man. Julius Caesar, I. ii. 260—264

These are the youths that thunder at a playhouse, and fight for bitten apples. Henry VIII., v. iv. 65

General behaviour

In our assemblies at plays in London, you shall see such heaving, and shoving, such itching and shouldering to sit by women: such care for their garments, that they be not trod on such eyes to their laps, that no chips light in them: such pillows to their backs, that they take no hurt: such masking in their ears, I know not what such giving them pippins to pass the time such playing at foot-saunt without cards: such tickling, such toying, such smiling, such winking, and such manning them home, when the sports are ended, that it is a right comedy to mark their behaviour, to watch their conceits, as the cat for the mouse, and as good as a course at the game itself, to dog them a little, or follow aloof by the print of their feet, and so discover by slot where the deer taketh soil. If this were as well noted as ill seen, or as openly punished as secretly practised, I have no doubt but the cause would be seared to dry up the effect, and these pretty rabbits very cunningly ferreted from their burrows. For they that lack customers all the week, either because their haunt is unknown, or the constables and officers of their parish watch them so narrowly that they dare not quetch, to celebrate the sabbath flock to theatres, and there keep a general market of bawdry. Not that any filthiness in deed is committed within the compass of that ground, as was done in Rome, but that every wanton and his paramour, every man and his mistress, every John and his Joan, every knave and his quean, are there first acquainted and cheapen the merchandise in that place, which they pay for elsewhere as they can agree.

STEPHEN GOSSON, The Schoole of Abuse 1579

In Rome it was the fashion of wanton young men to place themselves as nigh as they could to the courtezans, to present them pomegranates, to play with their garments, and wait on them home, when the sport was done. In the playhouses at London it is the fashion of youths to go first into the yard, and to carry their eye through every gallery, then like unto ravens where they spy the carrion thither they fly, and press as near to the fairest as they can. Instead of pomegranates they give them pippins, they dally with their garments to pass the time, they minister talk upon all occasions, and either bring them home to their houses on small acquaintance, or slip into taverns when the plays are done. He thinketh best of his painted sheath, and taketh himself for a jolly fellow, that is noted of most to be busiest with women in all such places. This open corruption is a prick in the eyes of them that see it, and a thorn in the sides of the godly, when they hear it. This is a poison to beholders, and a nursery of idleness to the players.

STEPHEN GOSSON, Playes Confuted in five Actions 1582

How a gallant should behave himself in a play-house The theatre is your poets' Royal Exchange, upon which their muses (that are now turned to merchants) meeting, barter away that light commodity of words for a lighter ware than words-plaudities and the breath of the great beast, which, like the threatenings of two cowards, vanish all into air. Players and their factors, who put away the stuff, and make the best of it they possibly can (as indeed 'tis their parts so to do) your gallant, your courtier and your captain had wont to be the soundest paymasters, and, I think, are still the surest chapmen: and these, by means that their heads are well stocked, deal upon this comical freight by the gross; when your groundling and gallery-commoner buys his sport by the penny; and, like a haggler, is glad to utter it again by retailing.

Sithence then the place is so free in entertainment, allowing a stool as well to the farmer's son as to your Templar; that your stinkard has the selfsame liberty to be there in his tobaccofumes, which your sweet courtier hath; and that your carman and tinker claim as strong a voice in their suffrage, and sit to give judgment on the play's life and death, as well as the proudest Momus among the tribe of critic: it is fit that

« AnteriorContinuar »