Robert Browne (Jacobean actor)

Last updated

Robert Browne (1563 c. 1622) was an English actor and theatre manager and investor of the later sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. He was also part of a long-standing confusion in the scholarship of English Renaissance theatre.

Contents

Two Robert Brownes

The historical records of English Renaissance drama contain repeated mentions of "Robert Browne." Early scholars like E. K. Chambers [1] and Edwin Nunzeger [2] interpreted the records to indicate a single individual. Later scholars, principally Charles Jasper Sisson [3] [4] and Herbert Berry, [5] demonstrated that two different men of the same name had been confused and conflated together.

The "other" Robert Browne died in 1603, and so can accurately be termed an Elizabethan actor. The Robert Browne who is the subject of this article had a career that extended through the first two decades of the seventeenth century, and in that sense can, as a differentiation, be called a Jacobean actor.

At home and abroad

Peeckelhaeringh, by Frans Hals Frans Hals - Peeckelhaeringh.jpg
Peeckelhaeringh , by Frans Hals

Born in 1563, Robert Browne's acting career began by the time he was twenty years old, when he was a member of Worcester's Men (1583). He was one of the English actors who performed on the Continent, especially in Germany, where English actors were especially favored. (Some names are known: Thomas Sackville, a clown; John Broadstreet, a "springer", accompanied by Richard Jones, a musician). Browne worked in Holland in 1590, and for Henry Julius, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg in Wolfenbüttel, in Frankfurt and Nuremberg in the 159294 period. [6] He was in Germany again from 1601 through 1607, and once more in 161820. [7] [8] This does not mean Browne was consistently abroad during those years; rather he passed back and forth between England and the Continent.

Browne was in Frankfurt in September 1602, and in Augsburg later that year; he was in Nuremberg in February 1603. He was in Frankfurt again in 1606; he and other English actors were under the patronage of Maurice, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel, who had built for the 'Englische Komoedianten', in Kassel 1605, a roofed theatre, the oldest extant such building in Germany, although nowadays used as a wildlife museum; in 1606 and 1607. In 1618 he was with English players in Nuremberg in May, in Strassburg in June and July, and in Frankfurt in the autumn. He spent the winter of 161920 in Prague, at the court of Frederick and Elizabeth, King and Queen of Bohemia. He was back in Germany in early 1620. [9]

Theatre business

When William Sly, long a member of the King's Men, died in 1608, he left Robert Browne his share in the Globe Theatre. Browne did not keep the share for long; rather he sold it to Henry Condell and John Heminges in partnership. Browne had a more substantive involvement in theatre investment and management in 1610, when he became one of the patentees of the Children of the Queen's Revels at the Whitefriars Theatre. [10] Browne may have had a specific responsibility for training the young actors in the troupe. [11]

Family

Browne married Cicely (or Sisely) Sands (or Saunders), the sister of actor James Sands, in 1594. Their son Robert was christened on 19 October 1595, their daughter Jane on 2 December 1599. The family resided in Clerkenwell, in the neighborhood of the Red Bull Theatre where many actors and theatre people of the time lived.

After Browne's death, his widow would marry actor William Robbins.

Related Research Articles

Thomas Middleton English playwright and poet, 1580–1627

Thomas Middleton was an English Jacobean playwright and poet. He, with John Fletcher and Ben Jonson, was among the most successful and prolific of playwrights at work in the Jacobean period, and among the few to gain equal success in comedy and tragedy. He was also a prolific writer of masques and pageants.

The Master of the Revels was the holder of a position within the English, and later the British, royal household, heading the "Revels Office" or "Office of the Revels". The Master of the Revels was an executive officer under the Lord Chamberlain. Originally he was responsible for overseeing royal festivities, known as revels, and he later also became responsible for stage censorship, until this function was transferred to the Lord Chamberlain in 1624. However, Henry Herbert, the deputy Master of the Revels and later the Master, continued to perform the function on behalf of the Lord Chamberlain until the English Civil War in 1642, when stage plays were prohibited. The office continued almost until the end of the 18th century, although with rather reduced status.

Thomas Dekker (writer) 16th/17th-century English dramatist and pamphleteer

Thomas Dekker was an English Elizabethan dramatist and pamphleteer, a versatile and prolific writer, whose career spanned several decades and brought him into contact with many of the period's most famous dramatists.

In Renaissance-era London, playing company was the usual term for a company of actors. These companies were organized around a group of ten or so shareholders, who performed in the plays but were also responsible for management. The sharers employed "hired men" – that is, the minor actors and the workers behind the scenes. The major companies were based at specific theatres in London; the most successful of them, William Shakespeare's company the King's Men, had the open-air Globe Theatre for summer seasons and the enclosed Blackfriars Theatre in the winters. The Admiral's Men occupied the Rose Theatre in the 1590s, and the Fortune Theatre in the early 17th century.

Jacobean architecture English architecture around the reign of James I

The Jacobean style is the second phase of Renaissance architecture in England, following the Elizabethan style. It is named after King James I of England, with whose reign it is associated. At the start of James' reign there was little stylistic break in architecture, as Elizabethan trends continued their development. However, his death in 1625 came as a decisive change towards more classical architecture, with Italian influence, was in progress, led by Inigo Jones; the style this began is sometimes called Stuart architecture, or English Baroque.

Boy player

Boy player refers to children who performed in Medieval and English Renaissance playing companies. Some boy players worked for the adult companies and performed the female roles as women did not perform on the English stage in this period. Others worked for children's companies in which all roles, not just the female ones, were played by boys.

<i>The Wonder of Women</i>

The Wonder of Women or The Tragedy of Sophonisba is an early Jacobean stage play written by the satiric dramatist John Marston. It was first performed by the Children of the Revels, one of the troupes of boy actors popular at the time, in the Blackfriars Theatre.

The Children of the Chapel are the boys with unbroken voices, choristers, who form 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. They were overseen by the Master of the Children of the Chapel Royal.

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 King's Revels Children or Children of the King's Revels were a troupe of actors, or playing company, in Jacobean era London, active in the 1607-9 period. They were part of a fashion for child actors that peaked in the first decade of the seventeenth century, with the Children of Paul's and the Children of the Chapel.

Valentine Simmes was an Elizabethan era and Jacobean era printer; he did business in London, "on Adling Hill near Bainard's Castle at the sign of the White Swan." Simmes has a reputation as one of the better printers of his generation, and was responsible for several quartos of Shakespeare's plays. [See: Early texts of Shakespeare's works.]

Robert Daborne was an English dramatist of the Jacobean era.

Walter Burre was a London bookseller and publisher of the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras, best remembered for publishing several key texts in English Renaissance drama.

George Eld was a London printer of the Jacobean era, who produced important works of English Renaissance drama and literature, including key texts by William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Christopher Marlowe, and Thomas Middleton.

Robert Browne may refer to:

King's Men personnel were the people who worked with and for the Lord Chamberlain's Men and the King's Men from 1594 to 1642. The company was the major theatrical enterprise of its era and featured some of the leading actors of their generation – Richard Burbage, John Lowin, and Joseph Taylor among other – and some leading clowns and comedians, like Will Kempe and Robert Armin. The company benefitted from the services of William Shakespeare, John Fletcher, and Philip Massinger as regular dramatists.

Susan Shore Browne Greene Baskervile, or Baskerville, was one of the most influential and significant women involved in English Renaissance theatre, as theatre investor, litigant, and wife, widow, and mother of actors.

Ellis Worth, or Woorth, was a noted English actor in the Jacobean and Caroline eras. He was a leading member of two important companies, Queen Anne's Men and Prince Charles's Men.

Robert Browne was an English actor of the Elizabethan era, and the owner and manager of the Boar's Head Theatre. He was also part of an enduring confusion in the study of English Renaissance theatre.

The Boar's Head Theatre was an inn-yard theatre in the Whitechapel area of London from 1598 to around 1616.

References

  1. E. K. Chambers, The Elizabethan Stage, 4 Volumes, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1923; Vol. 2, p. 304.
  2. Edwin Nunzeger, A Dictionary of Actors and of Others Associated with the Representation of Plays in England before 1642, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1929; pp. 60-3.
  3. C. J. Sisson, "Mr. and Mrs. Brown of the Boar's Head", Life and Letters Today, Vol. 15 No. 6 (Winter 1936), pp. 99-107.
  4. C. J. Sisson, The Boar's Head Theatre: An Inn-yard Theatre of the Elizabethan Age, Stanley Wells, ed., London, Routledge, 1972.
  5. Herbert Berry, The Boar's Head Playhouse, Washington, D.C., Folger Books, 1986.
  6. Catalog on the Wolfenbüttel exhibition: Vom herzoglichen Hoftheater zum bürgerlichen tourneetheater. H.-H. Grote (1992), p. 19.
  7. Willem Schrickx, "'Pickleherring' and English Actors in Germany", Shakespeare Survey, Vol. 36 (1983), pp. 135-48.
  8. Willem Schrickx, "English Actors at the Courts of Wolfenbüttel, Brussels and Graz", Shakespeare Survey, Vol. 33 (1980), pp. 153-68.
  9. Nunzeger, p. 62.
  10. Chambers, Vol. 2, p. 56.
  11. Lucy Munro, Children of the Queen's Revels: A Jacobean Theatre Repertory, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2005; p. 29.