Modelling the anatomy theatre and the indoor hall theatre:
Dissection on the stages of early modern London
Department of Drama, University of Hull
Billing, Christian. "Modelling the anatomy theatre and the indoor hall
theatre: Dissection on the stages of early modern London" Early Modern
Literary Studies Special Issue 13 (April, 2004): 3.1-17 <URL: http://purl.oclc.org/emls/si-13/billing>.
- This article explores the similiarities in design of three 'performance'
spaces of early modern London: the indoor hall playhouse, the anatomy theatre,
and the cockfighting ring. In particular, Christopher Beeston's Phoenix playhouse
was designed by Inigo Jones who also designed an anatomy theatre, and it was
built upon the foundations of a cockfighting ring that, due to contemporary
regulations, could not be substantially altered. The tragedies that John Ford
composed for this theatre displace the act of murder from the social and political
domain in order to create a new phenomenality of violence in which aggression
is enacted almost uniquely as a function of anatomical imperatives. Ford fashioned
a dramatic oeuvre in which characters repeatedly display an overriding
sexual passion for the histrionically created objects of their desire, and
sexual obsession repeatedly erupts into anatomically explicit murder and violence.
One of the forces that might have operated on Ford's dramatic imagination,
and which certainly would have had connotations for the original audiences,
was the shape of the playhouse for which he was writing.
- Well before the flourishing of Ford's output, the expectation of an onstage
dissection was raised by the closing moments of a Jacobean tragedy, only to
D'am. A Boone, my Lords.
I begge a Boone.
1. Iud. What's that my Lord?
D'am. His body when t'is dead
for an Anatomie.
2. Iud. For what my Lord?
D'am. Your vnderstanding still
come short o' mine.
I would finde out by his Anatomie;
What thing there is in Nature more exact,
Then in the constitution of my selfe.
Me thinks, my parts, and my dimensions, are
As many, as large, as well compos'd as his;
And yet in me the resolution wants,
To die with that assurance as he does.
The cause of that, in his Anatomie
I would find out. ---
1. Iud. Be patient and you shall.
(Cyril Tourneur, The Atheist's Tragedy L1v, 5.2.140-53
D'Amville, Tourneur's atheist, is the first character in early modern English
drama to articulate a desire to 'anatomise' a fellow character from which
it may be inferred that a realistic staging of 'anatomie' (by which I mean
a theatrical representation of human dissection that is based on a literal,
rather than metaphorical, reading of the term) must necessarily follow. His
monologue is no precursor to the sort of literary trope found elsewhere in
Renaissance texts and its language is unambiguous .
Were D'Amville allowed to enact his heresy before theatrical spectators, one
actor would have to be seen to incise and eviscerate a blood-drenched representation
of another's cadaver whilst explaining the behavioural significance of its
pretended internal physiology. Instead, however, the audience gets a 'slapstick'
execution for our would-be anatomist: he "raises up the Axe [and accidentally]
strikes out his owne braines". Perhaps a dissection scene was simply
too difficult for the playing company to present, or it might have been thought
theologically too sensitive a topic. Sixty years later Edward Ravenscroft
presented spectators with the intense and liminal frissons that interplay
between an anatomist and his 'living-dead' subject could produce. In
The Anatomist, or The Sham Doctor, characters are not prohibited from
performing in a clearly staged scenographic representation of an anatomy hall.
By the Restoration, dissection (now fused with the erotic in a way that ultimately
led to the sexually liminal phenomenon of Gothic Horror) seems to have apparently
become dramatic fact. What had happened in the meantime that made a clumsy
avoidance of anatomizing no longer necessary?
- The link between Tourneur's avoidance of anatomical spectacle and Ravenscroft's
provision for it lies in the graphic and clinical representations of fratricide
or uxoricide via the bodies of boy-actors playing tragic heroines in Christopher
Beeston's Phoenix during the late 1620s and 1630s. Ford's tragedies usurp
the performatives of the anatomy lecture in order to present them as a conscious
inversion of male and female culpability, for conventionally it was the murderer
(as transgressor of the moral order) who became the object of dissection,
yet in Ford--because murderers are allowed the guise of the 'righteous anatomist'--the
deaths and eviscerations of female heroines shift the blame from the male
onto the female body. In killing and examining boyish totems of rapacious
'female' sexuality, Ford's theatrical murderers appear to relocate female
murder as 'anatomy' and their murders are retributive, punitive and, most
importantly, dissective sacrifices of femininity on the patriarchal
dissection slab. In the light of recent studies concerned with the place of
performance as constituent element of performed meaning, it is significant
that Ford's dramas took place in a theatrical auditorium that was remarkably
like an early-seventeenth-century northern-European anatomy hall .
To understand why this mattered requires a survey of public anatomy 'performance'
in the period.
Records show that whilst the needs of scholastic anatomy in
England during the 1620s and 1630s were increasingly catered for by secular
law, the supply of cadavers was not adequate to provide for the rise in
public dissection as fashionable entertainment. The London companies of
the Barber Surgeons and the Royal College of Physicians had rights for the
regular dissection of corpses prescribed by civil legislation dating from
the mid-sixteenth century, but such law did not provide for regular public
demonstrations. The Barber Surgeons had been limited to four corpses per
year by their Act of Union in 1540 and the Royal College of Physicians were
still limited to only six cadavers a year when the act for an enlargement
of their provisions was passed in 1641 . Not all of
those who wished to watch anatomy as a social distraction could do so. Jonathan
Sawday has recently drawn attention to the example of the Oxford Divine,
George Hakewill, who, returning from travels abroad during which he had
doubtless been impressed by such anatomical 'entertainments', observed in
1624: "I have not a little wondered . . . that an universitie
so famous in forraine parts as this of Oxford, was never to my knowledge
provided of a publique lecture in this kinde, till now" .
The poet John Hall, a friend of Hobbes and member of the influential Hartlib
circle, echoed in 1649: "Where have we constant reading on either quick
or dead Anatomies" . In England at least,
demand from an educated and literary elite to see regular public anatomy
demonstrations as entertainment outstripped supply well into the seventeenth
century, and it was precisely such members of the new 'intellectual classes'
who were increasingly becoming the audiences of London's club-like indoor
hall theatres .
- The generally accepted dates for the first performances of Ford's The
Broken Heart ,'Tis Pity She's a Whore and Love's Sacrifice are
1629, 1630 and 1631 respectively  and during the two
decades between the first staging of Tourneur's The Atheist's Tragedy
and the production of these dramas much changed in the world of anatomical
science. Ford's works were produced amid the intellectual turmoil that was
generated by the greatest period of somatic change (both philosophical and
scientific) to take place in early-modern Europe, the intellectual flux of
which was to have a direct influence on the dissective culture of northern
Europe, on the intellectual concerns of Ford's elite audiences and upon his
dramaturgy itself. The plays coincide with a scientific movement that was
beginning to redefine its philosophical framework in order eventually to become
largely independent of theology. The liminal and yet quasi-religious activity
of anatomy was radically redefining itself as the secular, philosophical and
Cartesian 'New-Science' of biology, forming the backbone of what later emerged
as 'New Science'. In such a context, the possibility of appropriating anatomy
as justifiable theatrical spectacle may begin to be more easily understood,
together with the notion that Ford's drama engaged with the philosophical
debates of 'New Science' precisely because its elite market supported the
presentation of plays that contained spectacle and debate about such intellectual
subject matter. Quite plausibly Beeston's Phoenix cashed in on the bourgeois
desire to witness anatomical demonstration and hear neoPlatonic, Paracelsian,
Catholic, Protestant, Vesalian, Harvean and Cartesian views of the dissected
body pitted against one another.
- The decade 1628-38 embraces all Ford's major tragic output and publication
of the first great Dutch anatomists' major corporal investigations, the anatomical
discoveries of the Englishman William Harvey and Descartes' seminal Discours
de la Méthode. The work of these Northern European intellectuals would
eventually wrestle corporal understanding away from medieval and early-Renaissance
microcosmographic views of man as the divine map of God's universal creation
and container of the immortal soul (the dominant philosophy of the Vesalian
school that was still evident in the works of English anatomists from Vicary
to Crooke) towards a late-seventeenth century Cartesian view of the body as
biological machine. Harvey's De motu cordis (published in Leiden, 1628)
was the first early-modern scientific theory for the function of the heart
and the circulation of the blood and came from dissective studies undertaken
over the preceding decade at both the University of Padua and the London College
of Physicians. Descartes was amassing valuable information from anatomical
science and developing the philosophy with which he would begin to liberate
the soul from the body, and in 1632 went to live in Leiden where public anatomy
"was to reach its zenith" .
- The transition that was forced upon European anatomy by the assertions of
Descartes, by Harvey and the Dutchman Nicholas Tulp gained much of its immense
cultural power specifically because it took the body away from an 85-year
old anthropocentric (and Catholic) view towards one that stressed biological
functionalism. 'New Science' based itself on philosophical assertions that
struggled to break the body free, if not from religion per se, at least
from medieval Catholic theology. Whilst Descartes and Harvey both wrote during
a backlash of vigorous Catholic defence that formed part of the immense counter-Reformation,
they were relatively secure from persecution whilst working in Protestant
realms. Galileo, on the other hand, received an auto-da-fé from the
Saint-Office in Rome on 22 June 1633 for the publication of Dialogus de
systemate mundi, in which Ptolemic and Copernican systems were pitted
against each other, a fact that perhaps led Descartes to renounce his own
radical Tractatus de homine and leave it un-published, apart from a
Latin edition that emerged in Protestant Leiden in 1662, until the definitive
French version that was translated, edited and published posthumously by his
friend Clerselier as part of his Œuvres in 1664). Both Love's Sacrifice
and 'Tis Pity She's a Whore were entered on the Stationers' Register
in a Protestant kingdom in 1633. As we shall see, both plays grappled with
the issues of Paracelsian versus Cartesian corporeality that were worked through
by the anatomists of England and the Protestant Low Countries.
- Representations of the body were shifting from the theological to the biological
during the years that Ford wrote his greatest tragedies. 'New Science' came
to occupy great cultural and medical significance, and Protestant versus Catholic
theology figured heavily in its conception. In 1543, Vesalius had published
De humani corporis fabrica whilst occupying the chair of anatomy in
the Catholic city of Padua. In 1628 Harvey left Padua--as Descartes left Paris--and
was working in a Protestant kingdom akin to that of the Dutch anatomists.
De motu cordis looked at how an individual organ worked, irrespective
of its supposed connection to the soul. During the 85 years between De
humani corporis fabrica and De motu cordis the theologies of Erasmus,
Luther, Zwingli and Calvin had given rise to a series of northern-European
Reformations that had created an oppositional Protestant intellectual climate
in England and Holland and allowed for new possibilities in medical research.
This is the context for the corporal fascination of a playwright, Ford, tarred
with the brush of Catholicism, and writing in perhaps the most staunchly Protestant
kingdom in Europe . Whether or not Ford simply profited
from the increased public interest in (and lack of provision for) public anatomy,
or subtly defended anthropocentric Catholic views of the body that were rapidly
retreating from the forefront of medical debate in order to critique the irreligious
practices of early-modern anatomy, his anatomical themes derive from the divide
that 'New Science' was driving between medical and theological conceptions
of the body, and the desire of elite audiences to witness that debate in action.
- The first anatomists' demand for fresh corpses was justified by their claim
that anatomical study made manifest the truth of humanist theology: that God
himself was mapped out in the Microcosmographia of the body and that
they, like priests, were making manifest an interpretation of the divine text
in human form before their audiences. At the centre of these 'map-bodies'
lay the heart: the seat of God in man and the symbol of religion at the centre
of anatomical science. The soul was pinned to the body through this central
figuration of one organ as the central presence of a divine creator. It is
largely to do with the limitations of such theological links that anatomy
had to reinvent itself as scientific reason in order to progress during the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Harvey's choice of the heart as the
object of his first enquiry therefore seems to have deliberately unseated
God from his corporeal throne, thus paving the way for a liberation of the
body from the soul. Ford's principal anatomical concern was also the heart.
D'Amville's atheism precluded him from the safe practice of anatomical science
and in 1611 Charlemont's resolution was a still a spiritual matter not to
be explained by secular anatomy. Until the New Science of the 1620s and 30s
dissection could be undertaken only by the sanctioned anatomist whose holy
text, the human body, made manifest the divine nature of the cosmos in a quasi-religious
environment. The English stage was still no place to do this and even anatomists
had to be careful: their venues must not be seen as overtly theatrical in
layout. To claim that their work was a religious activity they had to emulate
religious architecture, not theatre buildings.
- Regarding the need to couch anatomical science in religious terms, the New
Scientists were more fortunate than those of the early Vesalian school. By
the 1620s nearly a century of anatomical investigation had begun to be accepted
as a scientific and cultural fact. Careful architectural measures no longer
needed to be taken in order to pre-empt accusations of theological or ecclesiastical
transgression. Anatomy hall design in England and Holland became based more
upon the simple need to ensure that as many people as possible could see what
was happening. This can been demonstrated by contrasting the title page of
the 1543 or 1555 Fabrica, showing the anatomy theatre in Padua (figure
1), with the 1609 and 1610 views of the Leiden anatomy theatre (figures 2
(Figure 1. Title-page to the second edition of Andreus Vesalius' De
Corporis humani fabrica (Basel, 1555). The layout is cramped due to
the tempettio style architecture.)
(Figure 2. Anonymous Engraving of an anatomy taking place at the Leiden
Anatomy Theatre (1609) after a drawing by J. C. vant Woudt (Woudanus))
(Figure 3. View of the Leiden Anatomy Theatre circa 1610. Provenance: Leiden
In the Paduan image, the sacrifice of adopting the basilica like layout
is that the room appears to be cramped; the spectacle is obscured and it
is clear that a large part of the audience has problems in witnessing the
demonstration. In the Protestant city of Leiden, however, a more ergonomic
design seems less concerned with paying lip service to religious significance,
and thereby provides excellent sight-lines for all present.
- Drawing on architectural precedents for dramatic theatres (rather than the
anthropocentric design of Italian Renaissance churches), English physicians'
companies during the 1620s and 1630s utilised the skills of theatre designers
(most notably Inigo Jones) in the construction of their new auditoria. Vitruvian
theatre design from the 5th of The Ten Books of Architecture and Serlian
design from the first three books of De architettura are clearly the
model for Jones's design for the Barber Surgeon's Hall, as shown in figures
4 and 5, and the author's digital reconstruction of this shown in figures
6 and 7 and the Virtual Reality Modelling Language
(VRML) model of the Barber Surgeons' Hall that accompanies this essay.
(Figure 4. Plans and Elevation of Inigo Jones's design for the Barber Surgeons'
Anatomy Theatre (1636). Provenance: Worcester College, Oxford)
(Figure 5. Cross Section of Inigo Jones's Barbers Surgeon's Hall. Provenance:
London, Guildhall Library)
(Figure 6. Author's digital reconstruction of Inigo Jones's Barber Surgeons'
Anatomy Theatre (1636) showing the view from the third row of the auditorium)
(Figure 7. Author's digital reconstruction of Inigo Jones's Barber Surgeons'
Anatomy Theatre (1636) showing the view from the anatomist's entranceway)
The computer model was made using the software package called 3D Studio
Max by the author and Drew Baker of the University of Warwick from the
ground-plan and cross-sectional elevation drawings held in the London Guildhall
Library and texture maps based on the physical reconstruction of the anatomy
theatre in the Boerhaave museum in Leiden. The 3D Studio Max model
provided the pictures reproduced here; the VRML version of the model was
derived from the 3D Studio Max original and loses much of its detail.
The act of making the model suggested to the author the anatomy theatre's
likeness to the Worcester College designs for an unnamed theatre (discussed
below), and indeed were a mirror-line drawn across the front of the stage
in the theatre ground-plan, and the house end of the auditorium reflected
in it, the anatomy theatre's size and shape would be almost perfectly produced.
The reader is invited to explore the VRML model to get a sense of its likeness
to familiar theatrical spaces.
- Certain links between Jones's anatomy theatre and indoor hall playhouse
design are obvious:
(i) Like playhouses, anatomy theatres placed their performers, in this
instance a cadaver and an anatomist, on a raised platform surrounded with
(ii) Like playhouses, anatomy theatres had a degree of scenic decoration
that had a symbolic link to the activity taking place within them.
(iii) A spectator's proximity to the action depended upon his social
(iv) The spectacle of (and commentary upon) anatomical demonstration
was guided by the 'script' of a published anatomy.
(v) Dissections (like many plays) served to circumscribe and reinforce
the symbolic power of a ruling class through physical punishment of a
known transgressor of the moral order. (Until the Anatomy Act was passed
in 1832 the corpses on which dissections were undertaken were only ever
those of executed felons and anatomy was, therefore, obvious further punishment
for the crimes of their lifetime).
Some of these similarities may be said to hold for all early modern playhouses,
but they are especially germane to Ford's Phoenix plays because of the specific
origins of that building.
- Illustrative evidence about the size, shape and layout of early modern cockpits
concurs with contemporary eyewitness accounts. The general model was a circular
structure, approximately 40 feet across, containing a series of concentric
tiered seats (often with an ambulatory platform around the exterior) and a
circular table at the centre covered with straw or rush matting upon which
the cocks fought. The royal Cockpit built by Henry VIII at Whitehall was unusually
large for such a structure  and a typical piece of
evidence for the general design is presented here as figure 8.
(Figure 8. Frontispiece to R[obert] H[owlett]'s The Royal Pastime of
Cockfighting (London, 1709))
The journal of Thomas Platter, a young traveller from Basle who visited
London between 18 September and 20 October 1599 describes a visit to a cockpit:
I saw the place which is built like a theatre (theatrum). In the
centre of the floor stands a circular table covered with straw and with
ledges around it, where the cocks are teased and inticed to fly at one
another, while those with wagers as to which cock will win, sit closest
around the circular disk, but the spectators who are merely present on
their entrance penny sit around higher up. 
The confirms the circular structure, a raised central table, and provides
evidence that a spectator's position, within the tiered rings of seating,
was subject to his financial commitment. As in indoor hall playhouses, those
spending more--in this case by placing wagers--were located nearest the
action; and we also know that position nearest the centre in anatomy theatres
was dependent on wealth and status . The essential
structure seems unchanged more than 100 years later in Zacharias von Uffenbach's
description of one near "Gras [that is Gray's] Inn":
The building is round like a tower, and inside it resembles a 'theatrum
anatomicum', for all round it there are benches in tiers, on which
the spectators sit. In the middle there is a round table which is covered
with mats, on which the cocks have to fight .
The cockpit/anatomy-hall likeness was obvious to Von Uffenbach, who was
well placed to know as he had visited the anatomy theatre of the Royal College
- In the last quarter of 1616 Christopher Beeston, erstwhile actor of the
Chamberlain's Men, the King's Men and the Red Bull Company (and the man who
was to become London's leading theatre impresario in the years leading up
to the Civil War), leased a portion of land on Drury Lane from another entertainment
entrepreneur, John Best. Seven years before Best had financed construction
of a regular circular amphitheatre on his terrain, at which the public had
paid the standard admission price of one penny, sat in tiered galleries rising
around a central circular table and observed the spectacle provided by cocks
fighting . Beeston took over Best's site with the
plan to enlarge the circular structure of the cockpit auditorium and to convert
it into an indoor hall playhouse similar to the second Blackfriars, the exclusive
venue of the King's men that commanded higher admission prices than any previous
London venue . Beeston's accounting was simple: the
increased seating capacity after conversion and expansion of Best's cockpit
into a Serlian hall theatre, together with the increase (upwards of 600% over
the Red Bull) in what could be charged for admission, made the venture potentially
- Beeston undertook his Phoenix project during the strictest period of architectural
regulation prescribed by the Jacobean monarchy. James I inherited a series
of Elizabethan proclamations that were intended to regulate the practices
of the capital's construction industry. The first of these sprang from fear
of overcrowding in the suburbs and its role in the spread of plague earlier
that year. James also had a desire to shape the architectural development
of his capital and to join trade and the city harmoniously with the court
and Whitehall. The broad thrust of most Jacobean building legislation was
two-fold: to control overcrowding by prohibiting new building, and to reduce
risk of fire by permitting only stone and brick building. For the most part
the regulations were obeyed, offenders being fined and/or imprisoned and their
buildings demolished . James Burbage's adaptation
of the former Dominic monastery at Blackfriars in 1596 would have been safe
even under the new, stricter regulations since it required no external alterations,
but 20 years later Beeston--like any London entrepreneur seeking not a refit
but a rebuild--found building regulations far more limiting. Why did Beeston
take on Best's cockpit at all, given that it was far too small to house his
new indoor hall playhouse without extensive rebuilding that new prohibitions
would hamper? Why not copy Burbage and take a building with a shell large
enough to accommodate a new theatre? The answer is location.
- Best's Drury Lane site was almost exactly midway between the court and the
city. In 1616, opportunities to construct an indoor hall playhouse in the
increasingly fashionable area between Covent Garden and Lincoln's Inn fields
were scarce and a building with large enough foundations and an accepted history
of public entertainment was not easily come by. The area was increasingly
attracting the latest, richest, and most upwardly mobile of immigrants to
London, from whom a lucrative audience could be drawn. The fashionable central
location would also be likely to attract those willing to travel to the theatre,
and moreover Beeston's project itself could be defended as an upgrading of
amenities in the location just as much it was the Red Bull theatrical company's
obvious attempt to upgrade its audience. But Beeston could not simply demolish
Best's cockpit and construct a larger, rectangular, purpose built hall theatre
on this attractive site, for the regulations prohibited this. Fortunately
for Beeston, however, a law of 12 October 1607 authorized the extension of
a building by up to one-third its size if the majority of the original foundations
were retained . This legal requirement links Ford's
drama to the architecture of anatomy theatres because it imposed upon Beeston
the retention of the original shape of Best's circular cockpit, so that his
theatre was necessarily a smallish round (or U-shaped) structure retaining
the circular tiered galleries of the original cockpit and of an anatomy theatre.
According to John Orrell, the plans for an unnamed U-shaped theatre designed
by Inigo Jones and held in the Jones and Webb collection at Worcester College
Oxford (figures 9 and 10) fulfil the requirements of the conversion project
to the letter.
(Figure 9. Plan and Elevation of an unnamed theatre by Inigo Jones. Provenance:
Worcester College, Oxford.)
(Figure 10. Sections through the auditorium and stage of the theatre in
Orrell traced a history of research that identifies these drawings as Beeston's
Phoenix, starting with Iain Macintosh in 1969, asserting that the unnamed
Jones plans should now be generally accepted as those drawn up for the construction
of that theatre . The arguments may be summarised
(i) The drawings at Worcester College are indisputably in Jones's hand.
(ii) Internal evidence dates the drawings as being drafted between circa
1616 and circa 1618 .
(iii) The plans are on a paper whose watermark indicates a date up to
and including 1616 but not later .
(iv) The theatre building projects in London between 1616 and 1618 were
only two, one of them the abortive scheme at Puddle Wharf (that was suppressed
by the authorities in January 1616/17) the other Beeston's Phoenix. Since
the Puddle Wharf project was first embarked upon in 1613--when Jones was
touring Europe--his involvement in it is unlikely.
(v) The lack of Jones's typical classical embellishments to the curved
exterior wall of the theatre shown in the Worcester College plans indicates
a conversion from some simpler existing circular structure such as Best's
(vi) The blind eye turned by the authorities to Beeston's presumptuous
bending of building regulations may be linked to the involvement in the
project of the powerful figure of Jones, who was Royal Surveyor at the
The most important connection between Jones's design and an anatomy theatre
is the retention of at least half of Best's original cockpit's circular
seating and the arrangement of benching around the playing area. Beeston
had to retain at least half of Best's original cockpit circle as the house
end of his auditorium in order to claim that the foundations of his original
structure were being preserved in their essence for his new theatre, and
consequently that his enlargement (presumably including ground originally
occupied by cock sheds and outhouses) was only by one-third.
- Keeping the curved tiers of seating around the old cockpit's central stage
and having a total diameter of only 40 feet to work with brought Beeston's
Phoenix closer to the architecture of contemporaneous English and Dutch anatomy
halls than that of any other theatrical structure in early-modern London.
This architectural accident created a dramatic space in which the dissected
bodies of transgressors of the moral law could occupy the central focus of
audience attention that had previously been occupied by the fighting animals
of Best's cockpit. The plays that John Ford wrote for this space are replete
with images of dissection and for his audiences the similarities of playhouse,
cockpit, and anatomy theatre probably put the plays in a multi-layered context
of 'New Scientific' ideas and old-fashioned bloodsports that we should not
ignore when trying to understand the drama.
1. Quotations of the play are from the quarto of
1611 printed by John Stepneth and Richard Redmer, STC 24146.
2. Instances of characters who metaphorically anatomise
or are anatomised include Oliver proposing to reveal the truth of his brother
Orlando’s character to Charles the wrestler: 'I speak but brotherly of him;
but should I anatomise him to thee as he is, I must blush and weep, and thou
must look pale and wonder. (As You Like It, 1.2.147–50) and Rumour: 'But
what need I thus / My well known body to anatomise / Among my household?' (2
Henry 4, Ind.20–22). Lear’s plea to Edgar-as-Tom): 'Then let them anatomise
Regan, see what breeds about her heart. Is there any cause in nature to make
these hard hearts?' (King Lear, 3.6.77–9) is a rather more interesting
case since it would seem to imply a literal dissection and Shakespeare's play
predates Tourneur's The Atheist's Tragedy. However, since mad Lear is
vague--who does he mean by 'them'?--it seems unlikely that the audience were
to expect an actual anatomy of the kind indicated by D'Amville.
3. For a sustained analysis of the intellectual and
bourgeois nature of early-seventeenth-century indoor hall theatre audiences
see Keith Sturgess, Jacobean Private Theatre (London: Routledge and Kegan
Paul, 1987). Stephen Mullaney's The Place of the Stage: License, Play, and
Power in Renaissance England (London: University of Chicago Press, 1988)
likewise characterizes the 'geo-political' domain of the open-air amphitheatres.
4. Jonathan Sawday, The Body Emblazoned, Dissection
and the Human Body in Renaissance Culture (London: Routledge, 1996), p.
5. Sawday, The Body Emblazoned, p. 42.
6. Sawday, The Body Emblazoned, p. 42.
7. Andrew Gurr noted of the Cockpit (= Phoenix) that
"Beeston gave the Prince's Men the Cockpit, the first indoor theatre to
offer a chance of rivalling Blackfriars as the most popular playhouse with the
moneyed section of London Audiences". Of Beeston's second company to play
there, Queen Henrietta Maria's Men, Gurr observed: "This company rose steadily
in reputation and status over the next ten years [it was the only Beeston Company
to last more than three]. The master of the Revels signalled their success in
the winter season of 1629-30, giving them ten Court performances, compared to
twelve for the King's Men, who up to then had given as much of the court entertainment
as the rest of the companies put together […] Shirley was the [major] dramatist
for Beeston, and more popular than Davenant or the other young wits providing
for the Blackfriars". In the 1630-31 season, Queen Henrietta Maria's Men
gave sixteen plays at Court and were the only company besides the King’s Men
to receive the grant of Royal Liveries. See Andrew Gurr, The Shakespearean
Stage, third edition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), pp.
8. From the 'Select List of Plays and their Playhouses'
in Gurr, Shakespearean Stage, pp. 234, 242, 238 respectively.
9. Sawday, The Body Emblazoned, p. 148.
10. For an account of Ford's connections with a
Catholic coterie in England, see Lisa Hopkins's John Ford's Political Theatre
(Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1994), pp. 3-29.
11. For visual records of more usual sized pits,
see the Hogarth engraving of the Dartmouth Street Cockpit or Rowlandson's colour
print of the same (both reproduced in Glynne Wickham, Early English Stages
Vol. 2, Part II (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1972), plates XVI & XVII.
The surviving structure of a circular cockpit with a conical thatched roof standing
in the yard of the Hawk and Buckle Inn, Denby, North Wales is reproduced in
George Ryley Scott, The History of Cockfighting (London: Charles Skilton,
12. Thomas Platter, Thomas Platter's Travels in
England, edited by Claire Williams (London: Jonathan Cape, 1937),
13. Sawday, The Body Emblazoned, p. 75.
14. Zacharias von Uffenbach, London in 1710,
translated by W. H. Quarrell and Margaret Mare (London: Faber and Faber, 1934),
15. For an account of Best's cockpit construction,
see Leslie Hotson, The Commonwealth and Restoration Stage (Cambridge
MA: Harvard University Press, 1928), pp. 88-99.
16. James Burbage's conversion of the Upper Frater
Building is discussed in detail in Sturgess, Private Theatre, pp. 27-55
and the full story of the building is the subject of Irwin Smith, Shakespeare's
Blackfriars playhouse: Its History and its Design (New York: New York University
17. Norman G. Brett-James, The Growth of Stuart
London, (London: Allen and Unwin, 1935), pp. 80–100; John Orrell, The
Theatres of Inigo Jones and John Webb (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
1985), p. 44.
18. Orrell, The Theatres of Inigo Jones and John
Webb, p. 45.
19. Iain Macintosh, "Inigo Jones–Theatre Architect",
TABS 31 (1973), pp. 101-4; John Orrell, The Theatres of Inigo
Jones and John Webb, pp. 39-77.
20. John Harris, Stephen Orgel, and Roy Strong, The
King's Arcadia: Inigo Jones and The Stuart Court, Catalogue of the
quartercentenary exhibition held at the Banqueting House, Whitehall (London:
Arts Council of Great Britain, 1973), p. 109.
21. D. F. Rowan, "A Neglected Jones/Webb Theatre
Project: the 'Barber Surgeons' Hall Writ Large" Shakespeare Survey 23
(1970), p. 127.
- Gurr, Andrew. The Shakespearean Stage, third edition. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1992.
- Harris, John, Stephen Orgel, and Roy Strong. The King's Arcadia: Inigo
Jones and The Stuart Court, Catalogue of the quartercentenary exhibition
held at the Banqueting House, Whitehall. London: Arts Council of Great Britain,
- Hopkins, Lisa. John Ford's Political Theatre. Manchester: Manchester
University Press, 1994.
- Hotson, Leslie. The Commonwealth and Restoration Stage. Cambridge,
MA: Harvard University Press, 1928.
- Macintosh, Ian. "Inigo Jones–Theatre Architect", TABS 31
- Mullaney, Stephen. The Place of the Stage: License, Play, and Power in
Renaissance England. London: University of Chicago Press, 1988.
- Orrell, John. The Theatres of Inigo Jones and John Webb. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1985.
- Platter, Thomas. Thomas Platter's Travels in England, ed. Claire
Williams. London: Jonathan Cape, 1937.
- Rowan, D. F. "A Neglected Jones/Webb Theatre Project: the 'Barber
Surgeons' Hall Writ Large" Shakespeare Survey 23 (1970), 125-9.
- Sawday, Jonathan. The Body Emblazoned, Dissection and the Human Body
in Renaissance Culture. London: Routledge, 1996.
- Scott, George Ryley. The History of Cockfighting. London: Charles
- Smith, Irwin. Shakespeare's Blackfriars playhouse: Its History and its
Design. New York: New York University Press, 1964.
- Sturgess, Keith, Jacobean Private Theatre. London: Routledge and
Kegan Paul, 1987.
- von Uffenbach, Zacharias. London in 1710, translated by W. H. Quarrell
and Margaret Mare. London: Faber and Faber, 1934.
- Wickham, Glynne. Early English Stages Vol. 2, Part II. London: Routledge
and Kegan Paul, 1972.
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Matthew Steggle (Editor, EMLS).