Ralph Roister Doister
aka: The English Play
Author: Nicolas Udall
Researched and Edited by Rose de Le Mans
Performed: Mists Investiture (November, AS XXVIII (1993))

This play is an ... interesting one. Basically, I (Hirsch) asked one of my apprentices (Rose) about doing some research into period plays. She came up with this and a few others, but I felt (silly me) that since people had heard of this one (references all over the place, including the popular British TV Show, Black Adder -- "Aren't you the regular Roister Doister, eh?" or something like that), that we'd do it.

The original script was for a play that would've taken about 4 and a half hours to produce (going to the theatre in the late Middle Ages was literally an all-day event). This is the SCA (heck, it's modern people -- short attention spans!). We cut it back to 2. Tricky, but doable. The problem was that Nicolas Udall, while being a contemporary of Shakespeare, didn't have the knack for doing rhyming couplets that Shakespeare had. Instead, he butchered the language to get his rhymes. It was pretty awful.

We (myself and the cast) spent way too much time trying to figure out what the actors were trying to say. The epithet "The English Play" was given by the actors -- it's not meant as a compliment, and the actors wince everytime someone refers to the play by its original title (they wince when you mention "The English Play", too, but they don't run screaming out of the room ...).

The audience seemed to like it, despite all the problems we had with it. However, I think we all discovered why the play has seldom been performed over the last 400 years, and I can state with all the certainty in the world that if I were inclined to repeat any of our past productions, this one would never be considered (I think my actors would quit first, among other things) ...

Incidents: Well, between the actors not really liking the show in the first place, and losing about 10 minutes of dialog accidentally, while the whole cast left the stage at a point when there was definitely supposed to be action, well ...

We still did ok, however ... I've watched the video several times, and it's really not as bad as the actors think, but I do agree that we'll never do it again. <Grin> This is where I discovered just how loyal the actors were -- they came back for the next one ...

 Photos: We have photographs by Hal Ravn at the West Kingdom History web site: Ralph Roister Doister Photos.

 Videos: Videos are available online (as well as the DVD below...):

 DVD: Available, contact Hirsch for details (probably $5-10, just to cover the cost of the discs, the case, etc. and any postage would need to be tacked on).

 The Script: Ralph Roister Doister (PDF)
(Note: this is the version of the script we actually performed from. The original is much longer ... we left the endnotes in, as well ...)

The Cast:

Mathew MerrygreekCharles Ravenstone (Bonefinder)
Ralph Roister DoisterJuan Santiago
Margery MumblecrustAnne of Ockham
Tibet TalkapaceOriginal Nightshade
Annot AlyfaceJoanna Melissa Ronsivalle
Dobinet DoughtyCarolyn
Christian CustanceRose de Le Mans
Tom TruepenneyWulfric of Creigull
ScrivenerKælle of the Broken Tower
Sim SuresbySeamus Padraig O Baiogheallain mi Narach
Tristam TrustyKælle of the Broken Tower
Gawyn GoodluckTarik ibn Jamal bani Batanji
Water BearerMargrethe Astrid Ravn

From The Program:
The back of the program had the following little bit of silliness:

More Research Into Period Plays

We found in researching this play, some works by a well-known author of the period, a Theodore (Ted) Shake-a-spear. Well, maybe not that well-known. We did find some titles of plays, but the plays themselves seem to have disappeared (there was a reference that referred to a burning, but we didn't believe it ...). The titles were rather intriguing, however, and we felt we would present them to you for your edification:

Two Pelicans of Cynagua
Merry Wives of the Westermark
Twelfth Knight: Or, is that YOU, Bill?
The Merchant's Row of Venice
The Life and Death of King Jade XXV
King's Leer
Othello, the Game of Venice
Julie's Salad
The Comedy of Arrows
Titus Wormwoodicus
Much Ado about Custance
As Ewe Like It
Michelin, Prince of Tyres
Trailer and Regalia
A Midsummer Knight's Council
Omelet, Pans of Denmark
The Taming of Sir Drew
Marshall at Marshall