1. What is a morality play? What is the central conflict of most of these
2. Identify some typical characters in the morality play.
3. What is a mystery play?
4. Who wrote the mystery plays? Who acted in them?
5. What was the purpose of the mystery plays? Relate this purpose to what you have learned about their sets, costumes, and props.
6. What is a folk play--and when were they performed? Who created them? Why was Robin Hood one of the more popular characters?
7. Acting companies travelled all over England all the year round in fairly fixed routes. Explain what factors determined the routes that were taken.
8. Most acting companies had a patron, often of very high rank. Why?
9. Acting companies also required local licences. Who issued them? Why might a licence be withheld?
10. Why might acting companies be denied entry to towns?
11. Shakespeare was clearly "of a very particular age." But why would Samuel Coleridge have said that "Shakespeare is of no age"?
The script for this video is reproduced as chapter 2 of John Barton's Playing Shakespeare PR 3091 B32 TRIN STL, PR 3091 B37 UC.
1. Scan (that is, mark "stressed" and "unstressed" syllables) the following lines
from Henry V. Identify the variations from the blank verse norm, and
explain their functions in the dramatic context:
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more,
Or close the wall up with our English dead ...
2. In this passage, Henry is urging his tired, terrified men to pretend that they're not. Again, scan the following line, identify variations from the blank verse norm, and explain their functions. (What does Barton mean by the term "contrapuntal"/"off-beat" position?).
Disguise fair nature with hard-favoured rage ...
3. Several passages illustrate the different dramatic effects of short lines. In the excerpt from the trial scene in The Merchant of Venice, Shylock finishes one of Portia's lines, and Portia has several pauses. These are hints-- says Barton--about how to play the scene.
Shylock: O wise and upright judge!
How much more elder art thou than thy looks!
Portia: Therefore lay bare your bosom.
Shylock: Ay his breast,
So says the bond, doth it not, noble judge?
`Nearest his heart', those are the very words.
Portia: It is so.
Are there balance here to weigh the flesh?
Shylock: I have them ready.
Portia: Have by some surgeon, Shylock, on your charge,
To stop his wounds lest he do bleed to death.
4. In both "Speaking Shakespearean Verse" and this episode, we're given a speech from one of Shakespeare's very late plays, The Winter's Tale. Leontes is with his little son, but is mad with jealousy of his wife and his best friend. The recurring issue concerns the lines "and I/Play too": explain the effects of the alternatives: (a) end-stopping; (b) running on. Notice also the (general Elizabethan & upper-class C20th British English) pronunciation of issue: what is the poetic advantage of the s sound?
Leontes: Gone already!
Inch-thick, knee-deep, o'er head and ears a forked one!
Go play, boy, play: thy mother plays, and I
Play too--but so disgraced a part, whose issue
Will hiss me to my grave ...
5. Barton discusses elision (define it) and archaic pronunciation/stresses. Scan the following lines. What is the point of this little exercise?!
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried
(from Richard III)
Swilled with the wild and wasteful ocean
(from Henry V)
6. How do you know whether to pronounce -ed at the end of verbs?
Disguise fair nature with hard-favoured rage
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
7. Finally, in the longer excerpt from Richard III, where our eponymous (look it up!) hero is wooing the Lady Anne over the dead body of King Henry VI, suggest the dramatic function of the shared lines:
Anne: Didst thou not kill this King?
Richard: I grant ye--yea.
Richard: Let him thank me that holp to send him thither;
For he was fitter for that place than earth.
Anne: And thou unfit for any place but hell.
Richard: Yes, one place else, if you will hear me name it.
Anne: Some dungeon.
Richard: Your bedchamber.
Anne: Ill rest betide the chamber where thou liest.
Richard: So will it, madam, till I lie with you.
Anne: I hope so.
Richard: I know so. But gentle Lady Anne ...