Richard Robinson (17th-century actor)

Richard Robinson (17th-century actor)

Richard Robinson (died March 1648) was an actor in English Renaissance theatre and a member of Shakespeare's company the King's Men. [. K. Chambers, "The Elizabethan Stage", 4 Volumes, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1923; Vol. 2, pp. 336-7.]

Robinson started out as a boy player with the company; in 1611 he played the Lady in their production of "The Second Maiden's Tragedy." He was cast in their production of Ben Jonson's "" in the same year, and in their "Bonduca," c. 1613. He became a sharer in the King's Men in 1619, perhaps succeeding Richard Cowley; [F. E. Halliday. "A Shakespeare Companion 1564–1964," Baltimore, Penguin, 1964; p. 418.] and he was cast in their revival of Webster's "The Duchess of Malfi" c. 1621. Robinson reportedly played the part of Wittipol in Jonson's "The Devil is an Ass" in 1616. In the printed text of that play (1631), Jonson praises Robinson's acting of female roles and calls him an "ingenious youth." Robinson played the role of Aesopus in the company's 1626 production of Massinger's "The Roman Actor," and Count Orsinio in Lodowick Carlell's "The Deserving Favourite" (1629).

Robinson is included in the cast lists for the company's productions of "Bonduca", "The Double Marriage", "A Wife for a Month", and "The Wild Goose Chase", plays in the canon of John Fletcher and his collaborators.

According to the last will and testament of Nicholas Tooley, Robinson owed Tooley £29 13"s." in 1623; Tooley forgave the debt in his will. Robinson most likely married the widow of Richard Burbage, who was "Mrs. Robinson" in 1635. He was also one of the King's Men who signed the dedication of the first Beaumont and Fletcher folio in 1647.

Seventeenth-century sources, including James Wright's "Historia Histrionica" (1699), falsely report that Robinson was killed in the siege of Basing House in October 1645, during the English Civil War. Richard Robinson was probably confused with another actor with a similar name; there was more than one Robinson in Caroline era theatre — though the actor in question was most likely comedian and fellow King's Man William Robbins. In fact, Richard Robinson was buried at St. Anne's Church, in Blackfriars, on March 23, 1648.


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