Showing posts from December, 2012

Pentland Robson Dramatic Club - A Murder Has Been Arranged

A Murder Has Been Arranged, a ghost story in three acts by Emlyn Williams, was first produced in 1929, and revived circa 1973-74 by the Pentland Robson Dramatic Club.

It was the theatre company's second production in its new home at the Aventine Club Theatre, Cuthbert Street, Gateshead.

The play's central character, Sir Charles Jasper, will inherit £2m if he can survive the night of his fortieth birthday in a supposedly haunted theatre. A dramatic irony, as the Aventine Club Theatre was itself said to have been haunted, perhaps by a errant spirit from the Wesleyan Methodist Church, which stood adjacent to the theatre until its demolition in 1967.

The Dramatic Club had a varied repertoire which included melodrama, swashbuckling adventure, as well as modern classics, including a production of N.F. Simpson's theatre of the absurd play One Way Pendulum.

The Dark Lady of the Sonnets - Patricia Cornwell, where are you?

"I have had great difficulty in containing myself or making myself go off to sleep the last few days, for on Thursday [2 March 1972]..... I found that I had identified the Dark Lady of Shakespeare's sonnets".
Thus A.L. Rowse in his diary entry for 5 March 1972. And there was more...
" is difficult to keep such a secret - I feel ready to burst. ...the only way to hold on is to tease my enemies, who have made me suffer so much anguish, and now get some fun out of it, and them".
The 'enemies' that had caused so much 'anguish' were other academics, among them renowned Shakespeare scholar Samuel Schoenbaum. 

In 1964, when Rouse had asserted that the 'young man' of the sonnets was Shakespeare's patron, the Earl of Southampton, it was Professor Schoenbaum who pointed out that this claim had been made as early as 1817 by Nathan Drake.

And Rowse's pronouncement that the 'rival poet' of the sonnets was Christopher Marlowe, had fall…

The business portfolio of William Shakespeare

If the financial crisis is bad today, in Elizabethan times it was infinitely worse.

Inflation was breaking all records, prices were rising steeply, and wages were at their lowest in real terms for 300 years.

But all was not gloomy. It was a good time to invest in land and property. Usury was a profitable venture. And there was a burgeoning demand for entertainment. And Shakespeare had a finger in them all.

As a shareholder in his theatre company Shakespeare generated capital which he could then invest in property and land deals. 

In 1602 he bought lands in Old Stratford, and in 1605 he bought a lease in Stratford and in three hamlets nearby. He bought New Place, the biggest house in Stratford. And his new wealth was able to procure for him his own coat of arms from a snobbish College of Heralds.

But it is Shakespeare’s moneylending which causes the most debate and controversy. 

In 1604 he sued his Stratford neighbour Philip Rogers over a debit of just £4. And four or five years later he pur…

The History of England from 1689 to 1783

The ‘bloodless’ and ‘glorious’ Revolution of 1688 had brought the nephew and daughter of James II, William and Mary, to the English throne. Protestant Stuart had succeeded Catholic Stuart. But it is a dangerous time as Louis XIV of France still recognises James as the legitimate king of England. Irish Catholics also support James, and in 1689 French troops along with James land in Ireland and make siege of Londonderry. The siege is raised, and in July 1690 an army of English and Dutch led by William defeats an Irish and French army under James. But William’s main concern is to save his native Holland from Louis XIV, and he drags his new kingdom into another war with France. A static war of sieges follows. Then in May 1692 William has a great victory in the naval Battle of La Hogue which repulses a French invasion of England. Peace is concluded in 1697, but it is inconclusive, and leads to the creation of two institutions which are still with us today: the Bank of England and the Natio…

The vedute artists who painted Venice - Canaletto, Luca Carlevarjis, Francesco Guardi

veduta (pl. vedute) (Italian) view, vista

The vedutagenre of detailed urban landscape painting had its beginnings in Venice towards the end of the 17th century. 

The great Venetian masters, from Luca Carlevarjis to Canaletto and Francesco Guardi, worked incessantly to satisfy the demand throughout the continent.

Francesco Guardi was just starting when Canaletto was enjoying great success. He continued to create in his paintings the atmosphere present in the master's work.

Squares and avenues appear in the paintings, as well as country scenes with ruins and lush vegetation. 

With the scrupulous detail of Canaletto, and the emotional content of Guardi, they remain the masters of the art of the veduta.