Where did romance drama at the Rose come from, and why was it controversial? In 1593, Lord Sussex’s Men performed the (now) lost play Huon of Bordeaux three times at the
Where did romance drama at the Rose come from, and why was it controversial?
In 1593, Lord Sussex’s Men performed the (now) lost play Huon of Bordeaux three times at the Rose. It was adapted from a prose romance that one religious critic had labelled the “legend of lies”.
This play was one of many romance drama performed at the Rose. The genre — with its wandering princes, imperilled princesses, magicians, monsters and international vistas — is often overlooked by scholars, sidelined in favour of the more classically (and Shakespeareanly) secure categories of Comedy, History and Tragedy. Yet it is familiar enough to us today, although we know it by other names, such as Game of Thrones or Star Wars, and when we look closely at the lost repertories of the period, romance emerges as a dominant form with powerful cultural resonance.
Using Huon of Bordeaux as a case study, this talk will examine romance drama at the Rose as part of a longstanding tradition that is traceable to Revels Office commissions of the 1570s and ’80s, in which dramatists searched controversial continental and medieval prose romances for spectacular and potentially shocking narratives to bring onto the stage.
Dr Kim Gilchrist is a Lecturer in English Literature at Cardiff University. He gained his PhD at Roehampton University in 2018, and with Dr Amy Lidster (University of Oxford) was co-organiser of the Changing Histories conference at King’s College London (2019). Kim’s work focuses on popular culture, the interactions between history and romance, and increasingly on modes of performance beyond London’s professional drama. He has been an invited speaker at venues such as the Universities of Southampton, Oxford and Sussex. He published a monograph on the performance and erosion of Britain’s imagined pre-Roman history, Staging Britain’s Past: Pre-Roman Britain in Early Modern Drama (Arden Shakespeare, 2021), and is currently working on a new introduction to the Oxford World Classics edition of Cymbeline(forthcoming, 2024) and a monograph on what was perhaps the early modern period’s most popular play, Mucedorus (forthcoming, Arden Shakespeare, 2025).
Tickets are £7(£5 for Friends of The Rose) and can be booked through TryBooking. You will receive a link to this Zoom event via email. Any additional contributions for The Rose Playhouse will be much appreciated and go towards funding the Rose Revealed Project.
Please note that booking for this event will close at 5.30 pm on 19 June.