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  • Title: Additional Footnotes to An Humorous Day's Mirth
  • Author: Eleanor Lowe
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-513-1

    Copyright Digital Renaissance Editions. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: Eleanor Lowe
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    Additional Footnotes to An Humorous Day's Mirth

    Hiding from Dowsecer

    Many of Dowsecer’s lines in Scene 7 are spoken as a monologue, as if he were alone. Having spotted Labervele at TLN 921, he engages in dialogue with him, directly addressing him as ‘father’. Only at TLN 948 does Dowsecer suggest that he is aware of the other characters watching him, where he promises he’ll stand quietly ‘And trouble none of you’. However, this line makes unclear whether Dowsecer is referring directly to the people around him, or reassuring his father in more general terms. It is possible that Dowsecer remains ignorant of his onlookers, for, when at TLN 952 Moren expresses concern that Dowsecer has spotted them, the King reassures him that this is not the case, indicating that Dowsecer is instead looking at Martia. Whether the picture of Martia or the real woman receives his gaze is unclear, a point again relevant when Dowsecer delivers his final speech to ‘Martia’ at TLN 962-968. In response, Martia speaks to his departing person.

    30Moren’s unease that the company will be seen by Dowsecer suggests that they are not occupying the above space. They could press themselves against the tiring house wall, while Dowsecer occupies the medial front of the stage, and Labervele moves forward to talk to his son. Another option would involve use of the discovery space, occupied by Dowsecer or his observers: the former option seems unlikely since the other characters might obscure the audience’s view of Dowsecer, while the latter seems impractical since the ‘hidden’ actors number ten. Other possibilities involve the use of hangings for concealing characters, either in the discovery space or across the wall of the tiring house, from which their heads could peep in a comedic style reminiscent of Tarlton’s clowning entrance.[21]

    In Every Man in His Humour, Giuliano ‘walks over the stage’ in 4.2,[22] muttering his frustration at not being able to find Bobadilla and Matheo, while they stand with Lorenzo Junior and Stephano, and watch him cross the stage and exit. Giuliano’s appearance throws the two into a comedic panic, fearing confrontation with him, before he reappears and challenges them. This example illustrates the flexible use of the stage and extent to which onstage characters could be ignored by other characters. This case further proves the latter point, since Giuliano is actively seeking Bobadilla and Matheo in a rage, but misses them; the self-absorbed, melancholic Dowsecer is not expecting an audience, nor does he seek one, and is perhaps the reason he does not see the other characters onstage with him. Only when Labervele moves forward does he become aware of company.