London-Summer 1593 not
Theatre in the 16th Century
"This time it's by Shakespeare"
What's in a Name?--The first time we see Will
Shakespeare, he is busy practicing his signature--we see him spelling
his names in several different ways. All the spellings we see
actually exist in the public record--remember, back then, spelling was
hardly regularized. Some scholars use the spelling variants to
shore up the contention that "Shakespeare" was created as a front for
another writer; such arguments give these people something to do while
they're taking a break from drumming up support
for the Piltdown Man.
"Doubt that the stars are fire, doubt that the
sun doth move..." Will is reassuring Henslowe that all is
going well with the writing of Romeo and Ethel. The line,
though, will ultimately turn up in Hamlet, in one of Hamlet's
love letters to Ophelia.
A Plague on Both Your Houses
"I am still due for One Gentleman of Verona"--The
only reason I mention this one is that some reviewer thought the
reference was to an earlier, unsuccessful work. The play being
referred to is, of
course, Two Gentlemen of Verona; Will complains that Henslowe only
paid him half of what was promised--hence Henslowe owes him for One
Gentleman of Verona. Some people take things so literally...
Anne Hathaway not ready
"I only stole it."
"I have to go write a sonnet."
me to drink mandragora" --Will, seriously bummed out at the turns
his love profession lives have been taking, orders mandragora at
the local tavern. Mandragora is potion derived from the mandrake
root, and it contains, among other things, scopolomine and atropine;
the result is a sedative with some hallucinogenic properties; it was
used as far back as the twelfth century as an anaesthetic--sort of an
Elizabethan equivalent of laudanum.
In Antony and Cleopatra, I.v, Cleopatra, devastated that Antony has
returned to Rome, tells her servant to "Give me to drink
mandragora . . . That I may sleep out this great gap of time."
"My plantations in Virginia"--Or, why you
shouldn't rely on the movies for your history lessons. The
movie's set in 1593; the Virginia colony in Jamestown did indeed have
a number of people farming tobacco for export back to Europe; however,
that colony was not founded until 1607, and no one started growing
tobacco until 1610.
"She will breed. If she do not, send her
back...if you are the man to tame here, there are rubies in the
These are DeLesseps' words to Wessex as they
haggle over Viola's dowry. I haven't figured out the source yet,
but I am all but positive that these lines were taken from another
play. I'll keep looking; if you figure it out, please let me
John Webster not
Twelfth Night--The denouement of Shakespeare
in Love really brought a tear to my eye, in large part because Twelfth
Night is probably my favorite Shakespearean comedy (odd, considering I
played Petruchio in high school).