Category:Robert Shaw (Shaa)

Robert Shaa (Shaw, Shawe) appears in theatrical records in connection with three playing companies. In August 1597, he was a member of Pembroke's men, playing at the Swan playhouse for Francis Langley; he, along with Gabriel Spencer and Ben Jonson, was "imprisoned in the Marshalsea from early August to 3 October 1597" as part of the fallout from the performance of "The Isle of Dogs" (Eccles, p. 168).

For the next five years Shaa continued at the Rose and Fortune playhouses with the Admiral's men, "borrowing money from Henslowe, ... paying personal debts, ... acknowledging company debts in the capacity of share-holder, and" serving as witness (Nungezer, p. 323). He did not lose contact entirely with Langley, however; on 4 October 1598, he redeemed "a Riche clocke frome pane" that had been in Langley's stock (Foakes, p. 68). And he joined a suit in the Court of Requests with other players in 1598 (Eccles, p. 168). In May 1598 he married Mary Griggs, daughter of John Griggs, who "had built the Rose playhouse for Henslowe in 1587" (Eccles, p. 168).

In February 1602, Shaa returned to the Rose where he joined Worcester's men (he had received some part of £50 for his share [Eccles, p. 168]). The parish registers at St. Saviour's Southwark record two entries for Shaa in 1603: the christening of his son John in April, and his own burial on 12 September (Nungezer p. 323).

The surviving plot of The Battle of Alcazar assigns Shaa the role of the Irish Bishop; his absence from the plot of "1 Tamar Cham" led Greg to believe that Shaa had left the Admiral's men for Worcester's company by the time the play was revived (Greg, 161), but Wiggins, Catalogue #906 is not so sure.

Works Cited

Eccles, Mark. "Elizabethan Actors IV: S To End," Notes and Queries ns 40.2 (1993): 165-76.
Greg, W. W. Dramatic Documents from the Elizabethan Playhouses. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1931, rpt. 1969.
Nungezer, Edwin. A Dictionary of Actors. New York: Greenwood Press, 1968 (orig. Yale University Press, 1929).


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