The Isle of Gulls


The Isle of Gulls

"The Isle of Gulls" is a Jacobean era stage play written by John Day, a comedy that caused a scandal upon its premiere in 1606.

The play was most likely written in 1605; it was acted by the Children of the Revels at the Blackfriars Theatre in February 1606. It was published later in 1606, in a quarto printed by John Trundle and sold by the bookseller John Hodges. A second quarto was issued in 1633 by William Sheares. [E. K. Chambers, "The Elizabethan Stage", 4 Volumes, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1923; Vol. 3, p. 286.]

The 1606 edition was unusual in several respects. It was not licensed by the Stationers Company, as it should have been. Changes were made after the press run had begun — the publisher's name was removed from the title page, and the characters of the "King" and "Queen" were altered to "Duke" and "Duchess." These changes have been described as "unsurprising" in light of the play's obvious political satire. [Gregory M. Colon Semenza, "Sport, Politics, and Literature in the English Renaissance", Newark, DE, University of Delaware Press, 2004; p. 103.]

The play, written in prose rather than verse, draws upon the "Arcadia" of Sir Philip Sidney for its plot. The problem arose from the play's satire on the political conditions and personalities of its day. The play's Arcadians and Lacedemonians were understood to be the English and the Scots (the boy actors used Scottish accents for the Lacedemonians). The title gives an unmistakably English frame of reference: a real Isle of Gulls lies in the River Thames. The character Damoetas in Day's play represented royal favorite Robert Carr, 1st Earl of Somerset. The "King" or "Duke" wastes public funds on himself and his "Queen" or "Duchess;" he keeps corrupt counsellors and raises unworthy men to knighthood, and generally leaves the state in chaos.

The play was offensive to the new Stuart monarchy, even more so than "Eastward Ho," by Ben Jonson, John Marston, and George Chapman, had been in a year earlier (1605). ("The Isle of Gulls" in fact mentions "Eastward Ho" as well as the plays written in conjunction with it, "Westward Ho" and "Northward Ho". In "Eastward Ho", Sir Petronel Flash and Gertrude are shipwrecked on the Isle of Gulls.) In the case of "Eastward Ho," Jonson and Chapman went to jail; in the case of "The Isle of Gulls", some of the juvenile cast members of the Blackfriars production were incarcerated in Bridewell prison for a brief interval. Day was questioned by the Privy Council, and may also have been imprisoned for a time. The child actors ended up under new management.

The published text of the play includes a Prologue, in which the actor speaking the piece is interrupted by three of the audience members sitting on the stage of the Blackfriars. (The potential disruptive influence of the spectators seated at the sides of the stage is employed in other works of the era, most notably in Francis Beaumont's 1607 satire "The Knight of the Burning Pestle".) Each of the three wants a different kind of play: one demands a satire, the next a love story ("a scene of venery"), and the third a "stately penn'd history." The Prologue complains of the impossibility of pleasing them all. [Lucy Munro, "Children of the Queen's Revels: A Jacobean Theatre Repertory", Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2005; pp. 7-8.]

References

External links

* [http://www.letrs.indiana.edu/cgi-bin/eprosed/eprosed-idx?coll=eprosed;idno=P1.0109 The play text online.]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Biota of the Isle of Man — This is a list of the known wild biota of the Isle of Man. Non native species are marked *, extinct species are marked †. If this status is uncertain the species is also marked ?. Each listing follows the following format: English Name (where one …   Wikipedia

  • The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia — The Countess of Pembroke s Arcadia, also known simply as the Arcadia or the Old Arcadia, is a long prose work by Sir Philip Sidney written towards the end of the sixteenth century, and later published in several versions. It is Sidney s most… …   Wikipedia

  • the devil looks after his own — Cf. 1606 J. DAY Isle of Gulls D4v You were worse then the devil els, for they say hee helps his Servants. 1721 J. KELLY Scottish Proverbs 310 The Dee’ls ay good to his own... Spoken when they whom we affect not, thrive and prosper in the World;… …   Proverbs new dictionary

  • Isle Royale — /roy euhl/ an island in Lake Superior: a part of Michigan; a national park. 208 sq. mi. (540 sq. km). * * * ▪ island, Michigan, United States       centre of a wilderness archipelago and the largest island in Lake Superior (Superior, Lake),… …   Universalium

  • Children of the Chapel — The Children of the Chapel were the boys with unbroken voices, choristers, who formed part of the Chapel Royal, the body of singers and priests serving the spiritual needs of their sovereign wherever they were called upon to do so. Contents 1 The …   Wikipedia

  • Children of the Chapel — ▪ English theatrical company also called  Children of the Queen s Revels,  Children of the Revels,  Children of Blackfriars , and  Children of Whitefriars        prominent and long lived company of boy actors that was active during most of the… …   Universalium

  • Lady Isle — Infobox Scottish island | latitude=55.53 longitude= 4.73 GridReference=NS27529335 celtic name=Eilean Mhoire norse name= meaning of name= area=2.3 ha area rank= highest elevation=6 m Population=0 population rank= main settlement= island… …   Wikipedia

  • Islands in the River Thames — This article lists the islands in the River Thames, in England. It excludes many of the smaller lock islands that were created when weirs and locks were built, and also some very small islands that immediately adjoin the larger ones. The Isle of… …   Wikipedia

  • South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands — South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands …   Wikipedia

  • Flora and fauna of the Outer Hebrides — The Hebrides (Outer Hebrides in orange) The flora and fauna of the Outer Hebrides in north west Scotland comprises a unique and diverse ecosystem. A long archipelago, set on the eastern shores of the Atlantic Ocean, it attracts a wide variety of… …   Wikipedia