A Most Splendid and Educationall Blogg Concerning Those Things Of Theater Historie; Wherein All Things Written Shall Be Deserving of a Terrifick Mark

Dost thou wish to be a learned person? Dost thou wish to learn of those things concerning theater historie? Then hurrah! For thou hast found the right place, dear scholar! (But seriously, read on for this week’s blog – it’s guaranteed to be a thrilling experience).


Ye Olde Theater Guide to Elizabethan London (on a Budget)

A trip to the theatre, bearing in mind you are wearing the correct garms and sitting in the right place, could cause you to be the talk of the town in the 1600s. Those sitting higher up in the theatre would have, of course, paid more. This gave the groundlings below the chance to look upon them and their finery. However, as Shakespeare himself warned, via Iago in ‘Othello’, “Beware, my lord, of jealousy; it is the green-eyed monster.’’ Don’t worry about these braggarts though, as the underground scene could be just as much fun (and by ‘fun’ we mean ‘as much fun as blinding a monk with a laser pointer’).

Ye Olde Garments and Rank 

Before heading out to the playhouse, be sure that you haven’t accidentally dressed yourself in garms which are not in accordance with your rank! In this glorious Elizabethan age of ours, our radiant Queen has had the great judgement to grant us with the gift of Sumptuariae Leges, or Sumputuary Laws. These govern the sorts of garms and gowns that may or may not be worn by certain ranks in our land. For instance, vestments made from silk, tissue or fur are only to be worn by those high and noble ladies bearing the title of Duchess, Countess or Marquise. What’s more, those items of clothing adorned with gold, silver or pearls are limited to those of the aristocratic rank.

Yet hark, dear friend, there is a loopus holus, that is to say, a ‘loop hole’. Aristocrats who are rather fond of playhouses often bequeath their clothes and other garments to members of an acting troop so that they may be used in future performances and merriment onstage. Thus, thespians are often seen to be wearing garms onstage which they ought not to be since their murky, lowly rank is undeserving of their finery! This is, however, the one instance in which splendid vestments may adorn one of a lower rank. Yet, that is not to say that is does not cause discord and a troubled disposition amongst some members of the gentry. “First they take our garments!”, they think, “Next they’ll take our money and riches and sacrifice us to their Blood-God! Those damned thespians!”.

Ye Olde Women 

Say, Love if ever thou didst find,
A woman with a constant mind

Whilst women are allowed in the playhouse to regard and enjoy (though not too much!) the play, they are, under no circumstances, permitted to act upon the stage. Such a defiant and whorish act would expose a woman as being an inconstant, sluttish gutter-snipe! ‘Tis only ever appropriate for men to act upon the stage. To this day, no woman has ever acted upon a stage (to my knowledge), not even as in disguise and this will almost certainly never, ever be the plot of an Academy-Award winning film in 400 years time because women will never act! But dear ladies, those of the fairer sex and, God help thee, one day, defiers of the patriarchy, on your trip, be sure to keep an eye out for the most roguish celeb of the day – Mr Richard Burbage. When Shakespeare was just a lad, celeb culture started to emerge in our humble playhouses, with Richard Tarlton in his buttoned cap or Edward Alleyn drawing crowds to the theatre. Burbage is the most admired lover and will most likely have you screaming like a fool. Warning – do not attempt to climb any balconies in the pursuit of this handsome devil, especially as the window is our preferred route for our WC activities here in Elizabeth’s day.

Do I Hear Ye Cry for More Entertainment?

If there isn’t enough blood and gore (spoiler alert!) in the end of ‘Hamlet’ or ‘Titus Andronicus’ for you, then there’s plenty to be found in Old London Town. Not that you won’t see plenty of animal blood in Shakespeare’s theatre, as that’s what is used for the bloody scenes. A more realistic setting for which this blood can be shed is the bear and bull baiting arenas! ‘How low and vulgar’, I hear you cry in horror, however, Queen Elizabeth herself was known to have visited this gory tourist attraction. If you’re not on so much of a budget, you can place a bet to add even more excitement! Although, I don’t think anymore excitement is needed! For the truly sick-minded, make sure you access the South Bank via London Bridge so you can have a good old ogle at the heads on spikes at traitor’s gate. DISCLAIMER: Not for the faint-hearted (or vegan.)

A Most Noble Warning

Over the past century, London has been getting rather busy with the rise of the population. Make sure you plan your visit either before or after 1593, dear friends, as catching the plague would not be the most ideal way to spend your holidays and after all, the theatres nor the bear and bull baiting arenas would be open anyway! Socialising and spreading filthy squalor in such places was banned for a year – such lonesome times.

Hearty thanks and gratitude to you for reading! Join us again next week when we’ll be telling you how to look out for those pesky Papists and filling you in on all the best ways you can accessorise your ruff! 

Murray Gove & Katy Evans

One thought on “A Most Splendid and Educationall Blogg Concerning Those Things Of Theater Historie; Wherein All Things Written Shall Be Deserving of a Terrifick Mark”

  1. Well what can I say? Much like Auntie Beeb, this post is both entertaining and informative. I really like the Elizabethan time-traveller premise of giving us a guide to the theatre. As much as I can’t comment on whether a former PM is truly a monster (cough), you make good use of hyperlinks and multimedia as both a way to reference unusual terms like ‘groundling’ and to bring the period to life (e.g. the youtube link to Dowland). I look forward to the next instalment!

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