AS Challenges: Entertainments
The Strangers' Case (play)
The Maze of Manners (play)
Enriching an Event : PDF class handout
Box of Games
Other A&S Challenge Topics
Garb & Accessories Consorting Garb
Stuff; Rat Stuff
Printing; Consort Correspondence
Heraldry; Rat Heraldry
A&S Challenges Main Menu
G5: The Strangers’ Case
The Strangers' Case (PDF)
Not surprisingly, this challenge was tagged wuth All the world‘s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.
I came across this excerpt from the Book of Sir Thomas More and felt it had to be done as a performed piece at Canterbury Faire's Half-Circle Theatre.
I can’t remember now whether that came before or after the horrific events in my city on March 15 2019 (when an Australian gunman murdered 51 people at two mosques here), but in any case, the cultural context of the US and UK political scenes provided reason enough.
The play was written, in part, about the anti-immigrant fervour of the early 16th century, which culminated in the Evil May Day riots of 1517 when Sir Thomas More attempted to quell a mob attacking and burning the houses of Lombard bankers and Flemish labourers. (See a modern take here.)
I adapted it a little to allow for three yeomen to participate from the audience, reducing rehearsal needs and stage-fright problems (and much thanks to William de Cameron, Maximilian von Monsterberg and Adrienne Furet for being willing participants). I also wanted to emphasise the contrast between the increasingly ridiculous claims of the 'prentices and the deadly seriousness More brought them to. (Yes, the "send them back" scripted ad lib is a contemporary reference.)
If you'd like to use this version, I'd love to hear how it worked out for you. I was told our performance was "sombre but thought-provoking", as it proceeded from the parsnip laughs to the uncomfortable denouncement.
The play itself was written at the end of the 16th century, when the English once again felt besieged by immigrants, this time Hugenots fleeing the religious wars in France and the Low Countries.
It was banned at the time by the Queen's Master of Revels – her Censor -- as likely to be too incendiary, and not seen on any professional stage until almost 360 years later, shortly after another conflict involving “mountainish inhumanity”. It retains its relevancy and discomfort, and not just because it's thought Shakespeare penned More's lines.
As the French say, plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose -- the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Of course, whether they change – and for the better – is up to all of us....
Other plays can be checked out here.
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A Box of Games
Gubbins 6. What revels are in hand? Is there no play, To ease the anguish of a torturing hour?, or Games, toys, and other such entertainments.
To keep me amused as a child, my father would play dice with me, using the games common in the Venetian lands in which we lived. I have a set of dice, as well as some French playing cards and jetons and other tokens to play the Game of Goose, Marienbad and other games, though of course I do not gamble when playing.
I have made up a small box of games of the kind Katherine may have played, including rules for various dice and card games; a set of Pierre Marechal’s playing cards (France, 1567),; a set of juggling balls and some dice and throwing sticks presented to me by the very creative Lord Ronan mac Briain.
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