Imágenes de páginas

this sport of men the worthier, despite all calumny. All men have been of his occupation: and indeed, what he doth feignedly, that do others essentially this day one plays a monarch, the next a private person. Here one acts a tyrant, on the morrow an exile: a parasite this man to-night, to-morrow a precisian, and so of divers others. I observe, of all men living, a worthy actor in one kind is the strongest motive of affection that can be: for when he dies, we cannot be persuaded any man can do his parts like him. But to conclude, I value a worthy actor by the corruption of some few of the quality, as I would do gold in the ore; I should not mind the dross, but the purity of the metal.

Sir THOMAS OVERBURY, Characters 1614-16

Players are discredited in the very subject of their profession, which is only scratching the itching humours of scabbed minds with pleasing content and profane jests; and how can he be well reputed, that employs all his time in vanity and lies, counterfeiting and practising nothing else.

Player is afraid of the plague, as much as a coward of a musket: for as death is formidable to the one, so is poverty and wants to the other.

Player is afraid of the statute, for if he have no better supportation than his profession, he is neither admitted in public, nor if he be a roamer dares justify himself in private, being a flat rogue by the statute.

Player's practices can hardly be warranted in religion: for a man to put on woman's apparel, and a woman a man's, is plain prohibition; I speak not of execrable oaths, artificial lies, discoveries of cozenage, scurrilous words, obscene discourses, corrupt courtings, licentious motions, lascivious actions, and lewd jestures: for all these are incident to other men. But here is the difference in these they come by imperfection, in them by profession.


Player is a great spender, and indeed may resemble strumpets, who get their money filthily, and spend it profusely.

Player is much out of countenance, if fools do not laugh at them, boys clap their hands, peasants ope their throats, and the rude rascal rabble cry "excellent, excellent": the knaves have acted their parts in print.

Player hath many times many excellent qualities: as dancing, activity, music, song, elocution, ability of body, memory, vigilancy, skill of weapon, pregnancy of wit, and such like: in all which he resembleth an excellent spring of water, which grows the more sweeter and the more plentiful by the often drawing out of it: so are all these the more perfect and plausible by the often practice.

Player is at the first very bashful, as stricken with amaze at the multitude, which being of various dispositions, will censure him accordingly: but custom maketh perfectness, and emboldeneth him sometimes to be shameless.

Player must take heed of wrested and enforced action: for if there be not a facility in his deliverance, and as it were a natural dexterity, it must needs sound harsh to the auditor, and procure his distaste and displeasure.

Player is like a garment which the tailor maketh at the direction of the owner; so they frame their action at the disposing of the poet: so that in truth they are reciprocal helps to one another; for the one writes for money, and the other plays for money, and the spectator pays his money.

T. G., The Rich Cabinet 1616

The magnificence of players' dress

Overlashing in apparel is so common a fault, that the very hirelings of some of our players, which stand at reversion of six shillings by the week, jet it under gentlemen's noses in suits of silk, exercising themselves to prating on the stage, and common scoffing when they come abroad, where they look askance over the shoulder at every man, of whom the Sunday before they begged an alms. I speak not this, as though every one that professeth the quality so abused himself, for it is well known that some of them are sober, discreet, properly learned, honest householders and citizens, well thought on amongst their neighbours at home, though the pride of their shadows (I mean those hangbys whom they succour with stipend) cause them to be somewhat ill talked of abroad.

STEPHEN GOSSON, The Schoole of Abuse 1579

A story of the Queen's players touring in the provinces [see also p. 20]

Amongst other choleric wise justices he was one, that having a play presented before him and his township by Tarlton and the rest of his fellows, her Majesty's servants, and they were now entering into their first merriment (as they call it), the people began exceedingly to laugh when Tarlton first peeped out his head. Whereat the justice, not a little moved, and seeing with his becks and nods he could not make them cease, he went with his staff, and beat them round about unmercifully on the bare pates, in that they, being but farmers and poor country hinds, would presume to laugh at the Queen's men, and make no more account of her cloth in his presence. THOMAS NASHE, Pierce Penilesse 1592

A royal licence for Shakespeare's company,
"The King's Players," May 19, 1603

James by the grace of God etc. To all justices, mayors, sheriffs, constables, head boroughs and other our officers and loving subjects greeting. Know ye that We of our special grace, certain knowledge and mere motion, have licensed and authorised and by these presents do license and authorise these our servants Lawrence Fletcher, William Shakespeare, Richard Burbage, Augustine Phillipps, John Heming, Henry Condell, William Sly, Robert Armin, Richard Cowley, and the rest of their associates freely to use and exercise the art and faculty of playing comedies, tragedies, histories, interludes, morals, pastorals, stage-plays, and such others like as they have already studied or hereafter shall use or study, as well for the recreation of our loving subjects as for our solace and pleasure when we shall think good to see them during our pleasure. And the said comedies, tragedies, histories, interludes, morals, pastorals, stage-plays and such like to shew and exercise publicly to their best commodity, when the infection of the plague shall decrease, as well within their now usual house, called the Globe, within our county of Surrey, as also within any town-halls or moot-halls or other convenient places within the liberties and

freedom of any other city, university town or borough whatsoever within our said realms and dominions. Willing and commanding you and every of you as you tender our pleasure not only to permit and suffer them herein without any your lets and hindrances or molestations during our said pleasure, but also to be aiding and assisting to them if any wrong be to them offered. And to allow them such former courtesies as hath been given to men of their place and quality, and also what further favour you shall show to these our servants, for our sake, we shall take kindly at your hands. In witness whereof etc. witness ourself at Westminster the nineteenth day of May.

85. Puritan opposition to the theatre

[From the erection of the theatres in 1576 to their suppression at the outbreak of the Civil War, the Puritan party waged an unceasing warfare against the stage. But for the protection of the court the Elizabethan drama would have come to an untimely end before Shakespeare reached London. The tracts on either side of the controversy tell us a good deal about the theatrical and dramatic conditions of the day.]

Puritan denunciation from Paul's Cross

Look but upon the common plays in London, and see the multitude that flocketh to them and followeth them. Behold the sumptuous theatre houses, a continual monument of London's prodigality and folly. But I understand they are now forbidden because of the plague. I like the policy well if it hold still, for a disease is but lodged or patched up that is not cured in the cause, and the cause of plagues is sin, if you look to it well: and the cause of sin are plays: therefore the cause of plagues are plays.

THOMAS WHITE, A Sermon Preached at Pawles Crosse 1578

Will not a filthy play, with the blast of a trumpet, sooner call thither a thousand, than an hour's tolling of a bell bring to the sermon a hundred? Nay even here in the city, without it be at this place and some other certain ordinary audience, where shall you find a reasonable company? Whereas if you resort to the Theater, the Curtain, and other places of plays in the city, you shall on the Lord's day have those places, with

many other that I cannot reckon, so full as possible they can throng, besides a great number of other lets to pull from the hearing of the word of which I will speak hereafter...What should I speak of beastly plays, against which out of this place every man crieth out? Have we not houses of purpose built with great charges for the maintenance of them; and that without the liberties, as who would say: "There, let them say what they will, we will play." I know not how I might with the godly learned especially more discommend the gorgeous playing-place erected in the fields than to term it, as they please to have it called, a Theater, that is even after the manner of the old heathenish theatre at Rome, a shew-place of all beastly and filthy matters, to the which it cannot be chosen that men should resort without learning thence much corruption....For reckoning with the least, the gain that is reaped of eight ordinary places in the city, which I know, by playing but once a week (whereas many times they play twice or sometimes thrice) it amounteth to two thousand pounds by the year.

JOHN STOCKWOOD, A Sermon Preached at Paules Crosse 1578

A sweeping condemnation of plays

Do they not maintain bawdry, insinuate foolery, and renew the remembrance of heathen idolatry? Do they not induce whoredom and uncleanness? Nay, are they not rather plain devourers of maidenly virginity and chastity? For proof whereof but mark the flocking and running to Theaters and Curtains, daily and hourly, night and day, time and tide, to see plays and interludes, where such wanton gestures, such bawdy speeches, such laughing and fleering, such kissing and bussing, such clipping and culling, such winking and glancing of wanton eyes, and the like is used, as is wonderful to behold. Then these goodly pageants being ended, every mate sorts to his mate, every one brings another homeward' of their way very friendly, and in their secret conclaves (covertly) they play the sodomites, or worse. And these be the fruits of plays and interludes, for the most part. And whereas, you say, there are good examples to be learnt in them: truly so there are; if you will learn falsehood; if you will learn cozenage; if you will learn to deceive; if you will learn to play the hypocrite, to cog, to lie and falsify; if

« AnteriorContinuar »