A play for one actor

1623

John Heminges returns to his house on the site of the Globe Theatre with a precious package – the first edition of Wiliiam Shakesepeare’s “Comedies, Histories and Tragedies” which he has just collected from the printer, Isaac Jaggard. 

Heminges and Henry Condell have spent seven years since William’s death looking through prompt books, cue scripts, plot sheets, William’s own writings, searching through the Tiring House of the Globe and studying previously printed versions of his plays.  Finally they amassed an exhaustive collection and working with the Jaggards – William and Isaac – they have produced this wonderful document.

Sitting down to study the result of his work, John Heminges reminisces about his life-long friendship with “Young Will” which had started 36 years before, in the White Swan in Stratford.

Throughout his working life John had been at William’s side, advising him and acting in his plays as well as managing The Chamberlain’s (now The King’s) Men, steering the company of which Will was such an important member, through the troubled waters of Elizabethan and Jacobean politics, organising royal patronage, fending off the tiresome Puritans and threats from the Plague.

As he starts to read through the plays, the memories come flooding back – of performances, backstage intrigues, successes and disasters and above all the importance of preserving the writings of a genius who was “not of an age, but for all time” as Ben Jonson so cogently wrote in the introduction to what we now know as;
Shakesepeare’s First Folio

2 comments:

  1. What a delight, this should be compulsory in schools as an introduction to the Bard,
    {do they still teach using shakespear?}
    if not they should, starting with 'the gift'
    superb achievement
    deserves success

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  2. This will no doubt combat the dry academic approach to Shakespeare. He is to me the most eloquent and readable Elizabethan. Far from that he knew what Drama was and how to work an audience. That is what live theatre is all about. Shakespeare is THE commercial and vital dramatist. And he wrote the most poignant and coarse and compassionate and malignant words any characters ever spake. He knew about human nature and he was different from the 'learned' writers because he had lived amongst countryfolk and city-dwellers and had the most extravagant of gifts. A love of humanity.

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