The £21,000 Masque

With a cast of over 800, and a budget equivalent to £3 million, James Shirley’s extravagant masque ‘The Triumph of Peace’ was performed on 3rd February, 1634. Unusually, it was such a popular show that, despite the enormous cost of staging it, King Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria requested that it be repeated.

Though replete with all the arse-kissing allegorical tableaux that typified these celebrations of the monarchy - and requisite set designs by Inigo Jones - this spectacular was also markedly different from its predecessors in that it was especially designed to appease Henrietta, who had been slurred by polemicist William Prynne.   

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly come to terms with the ‘17th century immersive theatre’ experience; explain why legendary playwright Ben Jonson WASN’T involved in this one; and reveal how a masque was once responsible for the destruction of Shakespeare’s Globe… 

Further Reading:

• ‘Masque and music at the Stuart court’ (Royal Museums Greenwich):

• ‘Inigo Jones designs for masque costumes’ (The British Library):

•  ‘The History of the British Masque’ (Heidi Kobara, 2013):

#1600s #Theatre #Royals

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The Retrospectors are Olly Mann, Rebecca Messina & Arion McNicoll, with Matt Hill.

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