Difference between revisions of "Second Part of the Seven Deadly Sins, The"

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===Thomas Nashe, ''Strange Newes, Of the intercepting certain Letters ...'' (1592)===
 
===Thomas Nashe, ''Strange Newes, Of the intercepting certain Letters ...'' (1592)===
<blockquote>The lengthy riposte by '''Nashe''' in ''Strange Newes, Of the intercepting certain Letters ...'' (1592) is excerpted here: "Hang thee, hang thee, thou common coosener of curteous readers, thou grosse shifter for shitten tapsterly iests, haue I ''imitated'' Tarltons ''play of the seauen deadly sinnes in my plot'' of ''Pierce Peniless?'' ... was sinne so vtterly abolished with ''Tarltons'' play of the seuen deadly sins, that ther could be nothing said ''supra'' of that argument? ... ([http://archive.org/stream/worksthomasnash00mckegoog#page/n326/mode/2up McKerrow, I, 304-5])</blockquote>
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<blockquote>A sample of the lengthy riposte by '''Nashe''' in ''Strange Newes, Of the intercepting certain Letters ...'' (1592) is excerpted here: "Hang thee, hang thee, thou common coosener of curteous readers, thou grosse shifter for shitten tapsterly iests, haue I ''imitated'' Tarltons ''play of the seauen deadly sinnes in my plot'' of ''Pierce Peniless?'' ... was sinne so vtterly abolished with ''Tarltons'' play of the seuen deadly sins, that ther could be nothing said ''supra'' of that argument? ... ([http://archive.org/stream/worksthomasnash00mckegoog#page/n326/mode/2up McKerrow, I, 304-5])</blockquote>
 
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Revision as of 13:26, 20 September 2012

Anon. (Richard Tarlton?) (<1591?, >1597?)


Historical Records

A Plot of the second part of The Seven Deadly Sins has survived (Greg, Papers). It surfaced c. 1780 in the collection at Dulwich College. It had many years before been turned into a cover for The Tell-Tale, a manuscript play. The playbook apparently survived with the Plot for some time because the outside cover reads "The Book and Platt, &c." The Plot is undoubtedly the most detailed of those that survive, yet it does not name its company or give its date. As a result, scholars continue to argue its provenance (see below, "Theatrical Provenance" and "Critical Commentary").

Theatrical Provenance

Strange's Players

Until recently (Kathman 2004), the entire theater history community believed that the Plot of 2 Seven Deadly Sins, and thus the play which the Plot plots, belonged to Lord Strange's men. The reasons for this company assignment are given in some detail below (Critical Commentary. Suffice it here to say that the Plot was preserved at Dulwich College, which Edward Alleyn founded and to which he gave a substantial number of documents from his theatrical career. Alleyn, in May 1593, was a member of Strange's players, even though he retained his identification as a servant of the Lord Admiral.

Chamberlain's Players

In 2004, David Kathman re-examined the evidence provided by the names of players in the Plot, and based on fresh biographical evidence he argued that the Plot had belonged to the Chamberlain's players. He challenged Alleyn as the presumed source of the document, attributing its provenance instead to William Cartwright, junior. Based on the casting assignments in the Plot and the probably ages of the players, Kathman assigned the Plot (and its play) to 1597-8, which made its venue one of the Shoreditch houses, either the Theater or Curtain.


Probable Genre(s)

Moral playlets


Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

If the play for which there is a Plot is not Tarlton's play, The Seven Deadly Sins, Tarlton's might well have been a dramatic source, perhaps for the structure of playlets if not also for the use of an illustrative tale for each sin.

References to the Play

If the play for which there is a Plot is Tarlton's play, the references by Gabriel Harvey in Fovre Letters, and certaine Sonnets ... (1592) and Thomas Nashe in Strange Newes, Of the intercepting certain Letters ... (1592) are to this play:

Gabriel Harvey, Fovre Letters, and certaine Sonnets ... (1592)

In the third of four letters (1592), Harvey exhausts his abuse of Robert Greene long enough to turn on Nashe, whom he styles Greene's "sworn brother," and to identify Nashe by way of his proxy character, Pierce Penniless. Thinking of Nashe's moralistic caricatures in Pierce Penniless His Supplication to the Devil, Harvey declares it "botched-vp ... according to the stile, and tenour of Tarletons president, his famous play of the seaven Deadly sinnes: which most-dealy, but most liuely playe, I might haue seen in London: ...." (EEBO, 29).

Thomas Nashe, Strange Newes, Of the intercepting certain Letters ... (1592)

A sample of the lengthy riposte by Nashe in Strange Newes, Of the intercepting certain Letters ... (1592) is excerpted here: "Hang thee, hang thee, thou common coosener of curteous readers, thou grosse shifter for shitten tapsterly iests, haue I imitated Tarltons play of the seauen deadly sinnes in my plot of Pierce Peniless? ... was sinne so vtterly abolished with Tarltons play of the seuen deadly sins, that ther could be nothing said supra of that argument? ... (McKerrow, I, 304-5)


Critical Commentary

Greg initially labeled as "brilliant" F. G. Fleay's conjecture that the play represented by the Plot of 2 Seven Deadly Sins was the Four Plays in One given at the Rose playhouse by Strange's players on 6 March 1592 (Greg, Papers). By 1931, he was backing away from the identification with the play in Henslowe's Diary. However, he did not back away from an assignment of the play to Strange's players. His argument is complex and merits close examination. Suffice it here to say that Greg, trying to reconcile his belief that Alleyn had owned the Plot with the presence in the Plot of Richard Burbage's name, concluded that The Seven Deadly Sins (which he still believed to be Tarlton's play) "was probably acted about 1590 by Strange's men alone at the Curtain" (Dramatic Documents 19). Greg dated the Plot in 1590 because he believed that the "violent quarrel between James Burbage and the Admiral's men" in the winter of 1590-1 would have ruled out a combination of players that included both Edward Alleyn (whose name is not in the Plot) and Richard Burbage (whose name is in the Plot) (Dramatic Documents 110-11). For a challenge to the assumption that the hot words between John Alleyn and James Burbage recorded in legal documents concerning the Theater had such severe commercial consequences that no Alleyn would thereafter play on the same stage with a Burbage, see Knutson (1-3).


McMillin exposes the network of hypotheses on which Greg (and before him, Fleay) had constructed the assignment of the Plot of 2 Seven Deadly Sins to Strange's men before May 1591. Looking at the evidence of the twenty names of players in the Plot, McMillin is the first to call attention to the number of those players with connections to the Chamberlain's men (54). He acknowledges that a cluster of the players were with Strange's men in 1593 but concludes that the 'most obvious company with whom these names come together according to other documentary data is the Chamberlain's men in the later 1590s" (61). As something of an afterthought, McMillin observes the coincidence of subject matter in the "harey the vj" played by Strange's men, 1592-3, and usually ascribed to Shakespeare as his Henry VI.


Bradley repeats the narrative constructed by Fleay and Greg for the Plot as having belonged to Strange's men c. 1590-2, but he revises the story by picking up the same coincidence of subject matter with harey the vi that caught McMillin's eye. Bradley, brushing aside Shakespeare's play as the likely identification "for reasons of casting" with "harey the vj," says that "it appears more probable that this Plot passed under the name of Henry VI in Henslowe's records than that it was the Four Plays in One (101).


McMillin and MacLean contest the identification of Tarlton's play, Seven Deadly Sins, with the Plot of 2 Seven Deadly Sins. They point out that the "'plot' does not mention Tarlton or any other Queen's Men, and lists actors connected with Strange's Men in the 1590s (93) They observe further that Fleay's argument connecting the Plot with the two lost Queen's plays, Five Plays in One and Three Plays in One "depends on arithmetic that does not add up" (93).


Kathman


Tribble


Stern



For What It's Worth

For the fullest picture of the argumentative network concerning The Second Part of the Seven Deadly Sins, consult also the entries for The Seven Deadly Sins, Three Plays in One, Four Plays in One, Five Plays in One (Queen's, 1585), and Five Plays in One (Admiral's, 1597).

Those interested in the provenance of the Plot of 2 Seven deadly Sins should keep an eye out for the history of Lord Strange's players, forthcoming by Lawrence Manley and Sally-Beth MacLean.

Works Cited

Greg, W. W. Dramatic Documents from the Elizabethan Playhouses. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1931.
McMillin, Scott. "Building Stories: Greg, Fleay and the plot of 2 Seven Deadly Sins." Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England, 4 (1989): 53-62.
Bradley, David. From Text to Performance in the Elizabethan Theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.
Gurr, Andrew. "The Work of Elizabethan Plotters and 2 The Seven Deadly Sins." Early Theatre 10.1 (2007): 67-87.
McMillin, Scott and Sally-Beth MacLean. The Queen's Men and their Plays. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
Knutson, Roslyn L. Playing Companies and Commerce in Shakespeare's Time. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.
Kathman, David. "Reconsidering The Seven Deadly Sins." Early Theatre, 7/1 (2004): 13-44.
— — —. "The Seven Deadly Sins and Theatrical Apprenticeship." Early Theatre, 14.1 (2011): 129-39.
Tribble, Evelyn B. Cognition in the Globe: Attention and Memory in Shakespeare's Theatre. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
Stern, Tiffany. Documents of Performance in Early Modern England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.



Site created and maintained by Roslyn L. Knutson, Professor Emerita; updated 24 March 2012.