Just Who’s Playing The Dumb Knight?

Medieval knights sculpture, Carrickfergus (3) (Albert Bridge) / CC BY-SA 2.0

The Records of Early English Drama North -East project presents its latest Flower of the Month – an intriguing find from the archives of the region. This month’s Flower concerns a 1617 performance of  “The Dumb Knight” at the estate of Richard Cholmeley, near Stearsby, North Yorkshire.

Here’s an interesting little puzzle.  On 21 January 1617/18, Richard Cholmeley paid the players of Philip Lord Wharton (of Healaugh, WR) six shillings for a performance of ‘The Dumb Knight’ at his estate in Brandsby/Stearsby.  This play, by Lewis Machin and Gervase Markham, has twenty-three speaking parts and at least nine non-speaking roles as printed in 1608.  The most efficient doubling scheme only reduces that number by two or three.  It seems unlikely that Wharton’s Men was a company of this size – were the numbers filled out with locals?

For more questions surrounding the performance of “The Dumb Knight,” and to see other Flowers of the Month, head over to the Records of Early English Drama North East blog.

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