Disguises

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Anon. (1595)


Contents

Historical Records

Performance Records (Henslowe's Diary)


F. 13 (Greg I.25)

ye 2 of october 1595 ………. ne Res at the desgysses ………. xxxxiijs
ye 10 of october 1595 ………. Res at the desgyses ………. xxixs
ye 16 of october 1595 ………. Res at the desgysses ………. xs
ye 27 of october 1595 ………. Res at the desgyses ………. xixs
ye 30 of october 1595 ………. Res at the desgysses ………. xxixs


F. 14 (Greg, I.27)

ye 10 of novmber ………. Res at desgysses ………. xvs



Theatrical Provenance

In the fall season of 1595, "Disguises" was the fourth play with Henslowe's enigmatic "ne" offered at the Rose by the Admiral's players. Its receipts averaged 24s. per performance.

Probable Genre(s)

Comedy ? (Harbage)

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

None known.

References to the Play

None known.

Critical Commentary

As is the case with many lost plays, scholars have suggested that "Disguises" is Henslowe's title for some other lost or extant play.

Collier considered it a new play, but entertained the possibility that it might have had connections with "the species of dramatic entertainment" called "'a disguising'"; he also suggested that it might have anticipated plays such as George Chapman's Blind Beggar of Alexandria, in which "one actor assumed several characters" (Diary, p. 59).
Fleay thought the play "the original version" of Chapman's extant May Day (BCED, 2.304), but at his entry for May Day he did not explain his reasoning (BCED, 1.51).
Greg repeated Fleay's suggestion of May Day, but expressed no enthusiasm for the link because the extant text of Chapman's play shows "no trace of revision" (II. Item 78, p. 177).
Adams, considering the identity and provenance of Disguises, or Love in Disguise, A Pettycoat Voyage in Hill's list of early plays in manuscript, mentioned several plays with similar titles including the Disguises in Henslowe's Diary (84). The Disguises in Hill's list (c. 1677-1703) is attributed to Thomas Dekker, and copying Adams's musings on similarly-titled plays, Harbage linked the Henslowe Disguises in his Annals with the Hill title attributed to Dekker.
Gurr argues that "Disguises" is Henslowe's title for the extant Look About You. He constructs an argument about the personality, or house style, of the Admiral's players in part on the identification of "Disguises" with Look About You, which was printed in 1600 with a title-page advertisement of the Admiral's company (no S. R.). That house style, according to Gurr, was plays with multiple disguises meant to exploit both the "same body of customers" at the Rose and the "familiar faces" of the Admiral's players (1). He sees that style begin to develop in December 1594 with The Wise Man of West Chester (to him, a.k.a. John a Kent and John a Cumber [211-12]), continued in October 1595 with Disguises (to him, a.k.a. Look About You), and leading toward George Chapman's Blind Beggar of Alexandria in February 1596 (24-25). See pp. 51-77 for Gurr's detailed discussion of "Disguises" as Look About You.



See also Wiggins serial number 1010.


For What It's Worth

One oddity about the 1600 publication of Look About You is that it advertises itself as "lately played by the right honourable the Lord High Admiral his seruaunts", whereas the other plays from that company published in that year also advertise the patron's new (and newly created) title, Earl of Nottingham.

A play called "Disguises, or Love in Disguise, a Petticoat Voyage" appears on Hill's List of Early Plays in Manuscript. Its assigned author is Thomas Dekker. Harbage apparently took the information in Hill's playlist at face value, identifying the Admiral's play specifically as "Disguises, or Love in Disguise, a Petticoat Voyage" by Dekker (56).

Works Cited

Adams, Joseph Q. "Hill's List of Early Plays in Manuscript." The Library n.s. XX (1939): 71-99.
Collier, John Payne, ed. The Diary of Philip Henslowe, from 1591 to 1609. London: Shakespeare Society, 1845.
Gurr, Andrew. Shakespeare's Opposites: The Admiral's Company 1594-1625. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2009.


Site created and maintained by Roslyn L. Knutson, Professor Emerita; updated 1 June 2015.

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