Frederick and Basilea

Anon. (1597)

Historical Records

Plot (British Library Add. MS.10449, f.2)

Frederick and Basilea, BL MS Add 10449 fol2.jpg

(British Library Add. MS.10449, f.2, reproduced with permission)

The following transcription is reproduced from Greg, Papers (APX. II, art.3, pp. 135-37).

The plott of ffrederick & Basilea
Enter Prologue : Richard Alleine
Enter Frederick Kinge : Mr Jubie R Allenn To them
Basilea seruant Black Dick, Dick.
Enter Gouernor Athanasia Moore : Mr Dunstann. Griffen
Charles, To them Heraclius Seruants. Tho : hunt black Dick
Enter Leonora, Sebastian, Theodore, Pedro, Philippo Andreo
Mr Allen, well, Mr Martyn. Ed. Dutton. ledbeter, Pigg:
To them King frederick Basilea Guarde. Mr Juby. R Allen
Dick Tho. Hunt, black Dick.
Enter Myron=hamec, lords. Tho : Towne. Tho Hunt ledbeter
To them Heraclius, Thamar, SamCharles.
Enter Gouernor Mr Dunstann, To hym Messenger Th : Hunt
To them Heraclius Sam, To them Myranhamec Goliors.
Enter ffrederick, Basilea, R Allen Dick, To them Kinge
Mr Jubie To them Messenger Black Dick, To them
Sebastian, Heraclius, Theodore, Pedro, Philippo Andreo
Thamar. Mr Allen, Sam : Mr Martyn. leadb : Dutton Pigg.
To them Leonora, Will,
Enter ffrederick Basilea, R Allen : Dick. To them
Philippo, Duttonn, To her King ffrederick, Mr Jubie
R Allenn :
Enter, Myron=hamec Sebastian, Pedroe lords
Tho : Towne. Mr Allenn, ledbeter. Attendaunts
Enter King Theodore ffrederick, Mr Jubie, Mr Martyn
R Allenn. To them Philipo Basilea E Dutton his boye Guard
Tho : Hunt. [Black Dick] Gatherers. To them messenger
Black Dick. To them Sebastian Myron=hamec
leonora Pedroe Andreo. Mr Allen : Tho Towne
will : leadbeter Pigg guards gatherers.
Enter ffrederick Basilea To them Pedro confederates
Robt ; leadb : Black Dick Gatherers.
Enter ffrederick Guard. Mr Juby R Allen
Th : [Tow] Hunt &c. To them Sebastian [leonora]
Theodore Myranhamec Guard Mr Allen. Martyn
To them Pedro Basilea vpon the walls. come downe
Pedro Basilea. ledb : Dick.
Enter Theodore Andreo. Mr Martyn Pigg To hym
Thamar Heraclius Sam charles.
Enter ffrederick Basilea, ffryer, R Allen : Dick
Mr Dunstann.
Enter Heraclius, Thamar, Andreo, Sam. Charles
Pigg. To them ffryer. Mr Dunstann, To them
Theodore Martynn
Enter ffrederick Basilea R Allen. Dick, To them
ffryer Mr Dunstann, To them Heraclius Sam
Enter Leonora Myronhamec, Sebastian Goliors
Will : Mr Towne, Mr Allen. Tho Hunt black Dick
To the queen Theodore Martynn.
Enter Heraclius Thamar sam charles To him
Theodore ffryer Dunstan Martynn To them
Enter King Basilea ffrederick Messenger
Mr Juby R Allen Dick Black Dick. To them
Sebastian leonora Myronhamec Thamar Goliors
Mr Allen will Tho Towne Charles. Tho : Hunt
Black Dick gatherers.
Epilogs R Allenn Finis : /

Performance Records

Playlists in Philip Henslowe's diary

Fol. 27 (Greg 1. 53):

Under the heading, "Jn the name of god amen begininge the 25 of novemb[er] 1596 as foloweth the lord admerall players":
June 15 97
|3 | ne.. tt at frederycke & basellia. . . . . . . . . . 02|02|01-13-04
|9 | tt at fredericke & baselia. . . . . . . . . . . 01|00|00-00-00
|18 | tt at fredericke & basilia. . . . . . . . . . . . 00|11|00-04-06
July 1597
|4 | tt at fredericke & baselia. . . . . . . . . . . 01|00|01-14-06

Theatrical Provenance

Presented as a new play on 03 June 1597 and three times thereafter, by the Admiral's at the Rose. The plot provides for a cast of seventeen men and four boys (Kathman 127; Wiggins, Catalogue, #1078 reckons 16 men and 3 boys).

Probable Genre(s)

Romance (Harbage).

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

Frustratingly, despite the survival of a complete plot and a string of performance records pertaining to this lost title, the subject matter remains elusive. Wiggins, Catalogue (#1078) succinctly notes that "[i]n the course of the play, Theodore acts as liaison between Leonora and the Moors, but nothing more of the story may be gleaned from the surviving document". The character names ought to provide the strongest clue to the narrative, but no "Frederick and Basilea" story is known.

Moore (same as "Athanasia"?)
the queen (=Basilea or Leonora?)

References to the Play

None known.

Critical Commentary

Schelling lists this play in his discussion of Italian commedia dell'arte or improvised drama-style as it was apparently known in England (196)

Greg notes that [t]he Plot must be earlier than 18 July [1597] ... since it includes the name of Martin Slaughter who left the company on that date, and it may therefore be safely assumed to have been prepared for the original performance" (123). He notes that "[t]his is a short and comparatively simple Plot: it is the only one confined to a single column, but then the writing is smaller than in any other example", and observes that no act divisions are recorded; that scene division appears perfectly regular; that no exits are marked though internal exits are implied; that the record of actors is very full despite the relative lack of doubling of parts; that the scribe consistently named actors almost every time a character appeared; that there is some inversion in the correspondence of actors names to characters occasionally; and that the practice of "massed entries" (whereby a list of actors's names is followed by a list of character names) found in the plot for "2 Seven Deadly Sins" is also present here (123-24). He observes the following errors:

  • The actor for Heraclius is not named in line 6;
  • The Queen named at line 49 "is almost certainly Basilea";
  • The Moor named at line 5 is probably Thamar;
  • possibly the Lord at line 11 may be Pedro, though Greg adds "I rather doubt it";
  • The character of the King is omitted at line 33 (124)

Other distinctive features highlighted by Greg include the lack of properties mentioned, the lack of direction for stage noises, the absence of descriptive directions, and the lack of prominence of any influence of the Book of the play (except for the reference to "the walls" in line 36, "which is interesting as showing how persistent a literary direction may be" [124] -- references to the balcony or descending to the main stage being all that is required in a performance document). The only doubling consists of Dunstan playing the Governor in scenes 2-5 and the Friar in scenes 13-18, and Ledbeter who plays Pedro but also (in scene 4) a Lord attending Myronhamec (125). Finally, Greg observes that "[i]n the circumstances it is rather strange not to find Singer in the cast: he was, of course, a 'clown', but that does not necessarily mean that he only acted comic parts" (126)

Chew notes only that "[s]ome of the names of characters suggest that the subject was Levantine" (504).

Rutter points out that the sheer number of roles required in the plot would have made performing this play difficult: "The casting requirements of this play stretched the Company's resources to the limits: even the gatherers -- the men and women who collected admission money at the playhouse doors -- were brought on stage to make up the numbers" (111)

Mateer argues that a "Richard Parkyns" mentioned in the plea roll of the court of King’s Bench for Easter 1597 was the actor Richard Perkins (best known for playing Barabas in the 1630s revival of The Jew of Malta), who briefly left the Admiral's men to perform at Francis Langley's Swan theatre but who may have returned to the Rose by mid-1597. The legal documents detail Edward Alleyn's complaint that Perkins, who had been retained as his servant for 3 years from 26 November 1596, had left his master prematurely after 5 months (64). Perkins ultimately conceded defeat by the time the court was scheduled to reconvene on 27 May 1597 and Alleyn was awarded damages. Although Mateer acknowledges that "[i]t is not possible to say categorically when, or even if, Perkins returned to the Rose" (67), he offers the plot of "Frederick and Basilea" as evidence that he did, suggesting that Perkins was the "Black Dick" named in the plot:

It is unlikely that Richard Perkins was ‘Dick’, for an analysis of the casting information suggests that that youth was almost certainly Dick Juby, the ‘boy’ apprenticed to the player Edward Dutton. However, it is tempting to identify Perkins with ‘Black Dick’, who personated a number of minor male roles (servant, messenger, guard, etc.) in the play. An actor in his late adolescence like Perkins would have been specially suited to such parts, which were typically taken by hired men or older apprentices. (68)

For What It's Worth

Information welcome.

Works Cited

Chew, Samuel C. The Crescent and The Rose: Islam and England During the Renaissance. NY: OUP, 1937.
Greg, W. W. Dramatic Documents from the Elizabethan Playhouses, 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1931, rpt. 1969.
Kathman, David. "The Seven Deadly Sins and Theatrical Apprenticeship." Early Theatre 14.1 (2011): 121-39.
Mateer, David. "Edward Alleyn, Richard Perkins and the Rivalry Between the Swan and the Rose playhouses". Review of English Studies NS 60.243 (2009): 61-77.
Rutter, Carol Chillington. Documents of the Rose Playhouse. The Revels Plays Companion Library. Manchester: MUP, 1999.
Schelling, Felix Emmanuel. Elizabethan Drama, 1558-1642: A History of the Drama in England from the Accession of Queen Elizabeth to the Closing of the Theaters. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Company, 1908. Internet Archive

Site created and maintained by David McInnis, University of Melbourne; updated 02 November 2015.