Richard III 1592
No play has more famous performances or even more famous lines. One voice silenced the entire foyer of The Barbican before Antony Sher's 1985 performance by pointing out that it was the 500th anniversary of his death at the Battle of Bosworth. The atmosphere remained weird and portentous throughout the performance. It will get progressively harder, from this point on, to link Shakespeare's work with that of any other dramatist, as his verse and stagecraft now emerge from the crowd of contemporary writers. The next play in the sequence, Edward III is only partially by Shakespeare and some critics will have nothing to do with it as it lacks the unique stamp of the master so clearly visible thoughout Richard III.
A watershed, then, Richard III is not easy to move about in the stylistic or historical chronologies. It is clearly a sequel to the Henrician Trilogy and attempts to push it backwards out of the 1590's will look utterly ridiculous to anyone reading the early work.
After the discovery Richard's skeleton, complete with scoliosis, in 2013, it's not hard to predict another concentrated re-evaluation of the play. Anyone expecting earlier dates or different authors to come to light will be severely disappointed.
- Wikipedia Chronology
- First official record: version of the play entered into the Stationers' Register on 20 October 1597 as The tragedie of kinge Richard the Third wth the death of the duke of Clarence.
- First published: version of the play published in quarto in December 1597 as The tragedy of King Richard the third. Containing, his treacherous plots against his brother Clarence: the pittiefull murther of his innocent nephewes: his tyrannicall usurpation: with the whole course of his detested life, and most deserved death. The Folio text appears under the title The Tragedy of Richard the Third, with the Landing of Earle Richmond, and the Battell at Bosworth Field.
- First recorded performance: The play was performed extensively in Shakespeare's lifetime; it is mentioned in Palladis Tamia in 1598, and by the time of the First Folio in 1623, had been published in quarto six times and referenced by multiple writers of the day. Regarding specific performances however, in 1602, John Manningham mentions seeing Richard Burbage playing the role of Richard III, but he offers no further information. The earliest definite performance was at St James's Palace on November 16 or 17, 1633 by the King's Men.
- Evidence: It is known that Richard III was definitely a sequel to 3 Henry VI, which was on-stage by 23 June 1592, hence Richard III must have been written later than early 1592. Additionally, it has been argued that the play contains evidence suggesting it was originally written for Strange's Men, but then rewritten for Pembroke's Men, a company which formed in mid-1592. Also, with the closure of the theatres due to an outbreak of plague in June 1592, the play was unlikely to have been written any later than that, all of which suggests a date of composition as sometime in early-1592.
- Full text of play