Thomas Pollard

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Thomas Pollard (1597 – 1649×1655) was an actor in the King's Men – a prominent comedian in the acting troupe of William Shakespeare and Richard Burbage. [1]

The King's Men was the acting company to which William Shakespeare (1564–1616) belonged for most of his career. Formerly known as The Lord Chamberlain's Men during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, they became The King's Men in 1603 when King James I ascended the throne and became the company's patron.

William Shakespeare English playwright and poet

William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon". His extant works, including collaborations, consist of approximately 39 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and a few other verses, some of uncertain authorship. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

Richard Burbage 16th/17th-century English actor and theatre owner

Richard Burbage was an English stage actor, widely considered to have been one of the most famous actors of the Globe Theatre and of his time. In addition to being a stage actor, he was also a theatre owner, entrepreneur, and painter. He was the younger brother of Cuthbert Burbage. They were both actors in drama. Burbage was a business associate and friend to William Shakespeare.

Contents

Thomas Pollard was christened on 11 December 1597 in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. His date of death is not known.

Aylesbury town and civil parish in Buckinghamshire, England

Aylesbury is the county town of Buckinghamshire, England. It is an ancient market town with several historic pubs, is home to the Roald Dahl Children's Gallery and, since 2010, the 1,200 seat Waterside Theatre. The predecessor to the paralympic games started in the town. Is also known to have the highest concentration of blue cards per km in the UK.

Buckinghamshire County of England

Buckinghamshire, abbreviated Bucks, is a county in South East England which borders Greater London to the south east, Berkshire to the south, Oxfordshire to the west, Northamptonshire to the north, Bedfordshire to the north east and Hertfordshire to the east.

Career

Pollard starting as a boy player specializing in women's roles. He was trained by John Shank, a noted comic actor; and after he matured and left female roles behind, Pollard acquired his own reputation as a gifted comic performer. His most notable part was the title role in Fletcher's The Humorous Lieutenant . He had the comical role of Timentes the cowardly general in Arthur Wilson's The Swisser .

Boy player Adolescent males employed by renaissance theater companies

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.

John Shank was an actor in English Renaissance theatre, a leading comedian in the King's Men during the 1620s and 1630s.

John Fletcher (playwright) English Jacobean playwright

John Fletcher (1579–1625) was a Jacobean playwright. Following William Shakespeare as house playwright for the King's Men, he was among the most prolific and influential dramatists of his day; during his lifetime and in the early Restoration, his fame rivalled Shakespeare's. Though his reputation has been far eclipsed since, Fletcher remains an important transitional figure between the Elizabethan popular tradition and the popular drama of the Restoration.

He played Silvio in Webster's The Duchess of Malfi , in the productions of c. 1614 and c. 1621. [2] He appeared in Shakespeare's Henry VIII , probably in the 1628 revival at the Globe Theatre. Pollard played the role of Pinac in The Wild Goose Chase in the 1632 revival, and was in a number of other Fletcherian plays, The Lovers' Progress , The Maid in the Mill , The Queen of Corinth , Sir John van Olden Barnavelt , and The Spanish Curate .

John Webster was an English Jacobean dramatist best known for his tragedies The White Devil and The Duchess of Malfi, which are often regarded as masterpieces of the early 17th-century English stage. His life and career overlapped William Shakespeare's.

<i>The Duchess of Malfi</i> 1612/13 play by John Webster

The Duchess of Malfi is a Jacobean revenge tragedy play written by the English dramatist John Webster in 1612–1613. It was first performed privately at the Blackfriars Theatre, then later to a larger audience at The Globe, in 1613–1614.

<i>Henry VIII</i> (play) play by Shakespeare

Henry VIII is a collaborative history play, written by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher, based on the life of King Henry VIII of England. An alternative title, All Is True, is recorded in contemporary documents, the title Henry VIII not appearing until the play's publication in the First Folio of 1623. Stylistic evidence indicates that individual scenes were written by either Shakespeare or his collaborator and successor, John Fletcher. It is also somewhat characteristic of the late romances in its structure. It is noted for having more stage directions than any of Shakespeare's other plays.

Pollard acted parts in plays by Philip Massinger, including The Roman Actor (Aelius Lamia and Stephanus), Believe as You List (Berecinthius), and The Picture (Ubaldo). He also acted in works by John Ford, including The Laws of Candy and The Lover's Melancholy ; and by James Shirley, including The Cardinal . He "doubled" several small parts in John Clavell's The Soddered Citizen (1630).

Philip Massinger 16th/17th-century English playwright

Philip Massinger was an English dramatist. His finely plotted plays, including A New Way to Pay Old Debts, The City Madam and The Roman Actor, are noted for their satire and realism, and their political and social themes.

<i>The Roman Actor</i> play written by Philip Massinger

The Roman Actor is a Caroline era stage play, a tragedy written by Philip Massinger. It was first performed in 1626, and first published in 1629. A number of critics have agreed with its author, and judged it one of Massinger's best plays.

Believe as You List is a Caroline era tragedy by Philip Massinger, famous as a case of theatrical censorship.

(The text of Believe as You List draws humor from the fatness of Berecinthius, the character played by Pollard. By 1631, the year the play was acted, Pollard seems to have grown corpulent.)

Controversy

Pollard was intimately involved in a major controversy that marked the King's Men company in the 1630s. When the troupe had acquired its two theatres, the Globe (1598–99) and the Blackfriars (1608), prominent members of the company owned shares in the theatres, and so gained additional shares in their profits, beyond what they earned as actors. They were termed "housekeepers" of the theatres. Over the next generation, actors died and passed their shares to their heirs; their replacements, in the next generation of actors, were cut out of the housekeepers' income (though as sharers in the acting company, they received their own portions of the profits). In 1635, three prominent actors, Pollard, Eliard Swanston, and Robert Benfield, petitioned the Lord Chancellor, Philip Herbert, 4th Earl of Pembroke, to be allowed to purchase theatre shares from the present housekeepers; and Pembroke agreed.

Blackfriars Theatre theatre in Renaissance London

Blackfriars Theatre was the name given to two separate theatres located in the former Blackfriars Dominican priory in the City of London during the Renaissance. The first theatre began as a venue for the Children of the Chapel Royal, child actors associated with the Queen's chapel choirs, and who from 1576 to 1584 staged plays in the vast hall of the former monastery. The second theatre dates from the purchase of the upper part of the priory and another building by James Burbage in 1596, which included the Parliament Chamber on the upper floor that was converted into the playhouse. The Children of the Chapel played in the theatre beginning in the autumn of 1600 until the King's Men took over in 1608. They successfully used it as their winter playhouse until all the theatres were closed in 1642 when the English Civil War began.

Eliard Swanston, alternatively spelled Heliard, Hilliard, Elyard, Ellyardt, Ellyaerdt, and Eyloerdt, was an English actor in the Caroline era. He became a leading man in the King's Men, the company of William Shakespeare and Richard Burbage, in the final phase of its existence.

Robert Benfield was a seventeenth-century actor, noted for his longtime membership in the King's Men in the years and decades after William Shakespeare's retirement and death.

Those existing shareholders, principally Cuthbert Burbage and John Shank, did not want to sell their lucrative shares, however. The dispute generated a body of documents, sometimes called the Sharers' Papers, that reveal valuable information on the theatrical conditions of the Caroline era. [3] The Sharers' Papers indicate that Pollard had an annual income of £180 at the time, purely as a sharer in the acting company.

Later years

Pollard continued with the company even after the closing of the London theatres in September 1642, at the start of the English Civil War. He was one of the ten King's Men who signed the dedication to the first Beaumont and Fletcher folio of 1647, and one of the seven who tried to re-activate the company in 1648. He was also one of the performers arrested on 1 January 1649, when soldiers of the Commonwealth regime raided the Cockpit Theatre and caught actors in the midst of an illegal performance of Rollo Duke of Normandy , as chance had it. Pollard was playing the Cook. The actors spent a short time incarcerated in Hatton House, then were released. [4]

The Interregnum years were rough-and-tumble for unemployed or under-employed actors. In 1655 Theophilus Bird filed a lawsuit that claimed that Pollard and fellow King's Man Michael Bowyer, along with "some others", had sold the company's playbooks and its expensive costumes, and owed Bird a share in the proceeds. [5] Bird claimed in his 1655 suit that Pollard was worth £500 when he died; but the date of his death is unknown. James Wright's Historia Histrionica (1699) states that Pollard "Lived Single, and Had a Competent Estate; Retired to some relations he had in the Country, and there ended his Life". [6]

Notes

  1. Halliday, p. 381.
  2. Halliday, p. 144.
  3. Halliday, p. 449.
  4. Milhous and Hume, pp. 491-2.
  5. Gurr, p. 203.
  6. Gurr, p. 237.

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