Celebration Quotation – January 11, 2016

Today’s quote comes from one of Shakespeare’s plays not often seen in performance – King Henry VIII:

"Things done well, and with a care, exempt themselves from fear." Henry VIII; I.2

Why is the play so seldom done?  Some thinks that it is because the play is so uneven – it was written late in Shakespeare’s life after he had officially retired, only a few years before his death when his powers were waning.  Some scholars believe that parts of the play were written by someone else, most likely  John Fletcher, who succeeded him as house playwright in the King’s Men company.  There are definitely parts of the text that just don’t “feel” like Shakespeare.

Others say that the play is seldom done because of superstition – it was at a performance of Henry VIII in 1613 that a cannon – fired as a special effect – set fire to the roof of the Globe Theatre, burning it to the ground.  Because of this, many theatre people believe that the play is “jinxed”, and shy away from producing it.

The photo is of actor Edwin Booth (1833-1893) in the role of King Henry, taken some time in the late 19th Century.   Booth was one of the first great American Shakespearean actors – famous for his performances, and infamous for being the brother of John Wilkes Booth (the assassin of Abraham Lincoln, who was himself a failed actor.)

Image Source: Folger Shakespeare Library Digital Image Collection