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Touring: 1583

The Queen’s Men troupe formed in March 1583. It appears from REED records and The Queen’s Man and Their Plays (Appendix A) that the troupe had a slate of performance contracts set for them upon formation, as well as a series of scheduled performances in the provinces booked almost immediately. While in-depth examination of the REED data continues (in particular for the Midlands and North), there are twenty-two recorded performances, performances-in-residence, and long-term contracts identified for 1583-1584. These can be broken down as follows:

Full-year Contracts

  • Hythe (2/2/1583-2/2/1584)[nbnote]REED: Kent 631[/nbnote]
  • Bath (6/6/1583-6/15/1584)[nbnote]REED: Somerset 13[/nbnote]
  • Lydd (7/22/1583-722/1584)[nbnote]REED: Kent 702, McMillin & MacLean Appendix A – all further references to McMillin and MacLean on this page will refer only to Appendix A[/nbnote]
  • Marlborough (11/15/1583-1584)[nbnote]Appendix A[/nbnote]
  • York (11/11/1583-11/11/1584)
  • Saffron Walden (12/01/1583 – 12/01/1584)[nbnote]Appendix A[/nbnote]

Partial-year Contracts

  • Dover (4/5-9/8/1583)[nbnote]Appendix A[/nbnote]
  • Gloucester (5/26-9/28/1583)[nbnote]REED: Cumberland/Westmorland/Gloucestershire 308, Appendix A[/nbnote]

Specific Dates:

  • Gloucester (5/26)[nbnote]REED:¬†Cumberland/Westmorland/Gloucestershire 308[/nbnote]
  • Aldeburgh (6/2-24)[nbnote]Appendix A[/nbnote]
  • Kirtling (6/3-4)[nbnote]Appendix A[/nbnote]
  • Norwich (6/15 – 2 performances)[nbnote]REED: Norwich 65 & 70, Appendix A[/nbnote]
  • Abingdon (after 6/24)[nbnote]Appendix A[/nbnote]
  • Bristol (7/24)[nbnote]REED: Bristol 124, Appendix A[/nbnote]
  • Leicester (7/25)[nbnote]Appendix A[/nbnote]
  • Faversham (8/26)[nbnote]REED: Kent 558, Appendix A[/nbnote]
  • Nottingham (9/2)[nbnote]Appendix A[/nbnote]
  • Rye (9/14)[nbnote]REED: Sussex 130, Appendix A[/nbnote]

Undated Contracts Applied to 1583 [nbnote]Appendix A[/nbnote]

  • Canterbury
  • Ipswich
  • Shrewsbury

London and Court Performances

  • London (11/28 – Bull or Bear?)[nbnote]Appendix A[/nbnote]
  • Whitehall (12/26)[nbnote]Appendix A[/nbnote]
  • Whitehall (12/29)[nbnote]Appendix A[/nbnote]

A very rough import of data points into’s online mapping platform confirms what many scholars have suspected: that the Queen’s Men split into two companies to undertake simultaneous tours as early as Spring 1583.

View Larger Map

Red dots represent individual and short-term touring dates in the west and north; blue dots represent individual and short-term dates in the east and southeast. The orange shaded area indicates year-long contracts. The yellow shaded area indicates as-of-now undated contracts for 1583.

There are two distinct sets of touring dates over the same period of time: one set that covers the west and north from 26 May to 2 September, and another set that covers the east and southeast from 2 June to 14 September. Furthermore, the year-long contracts, when joined together, form a rough triangle with London at the center. all within 100 miles of the city.
Further elaboration concerning specific records, including those relating to the Red Lion incident in Norwich on 15 June, are forthcoming.

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