Here and There at Tufts
The spring of 1906 was made memorable by the revival of an Elizabethan play, "The Pleasant Comedy of Old Fortunatus," by Thomas Dekker. The presentation was under the direction of Prof. Thomas Whittemore of the English Department, and the artistic success of the venture was notable. Several years before a production of " Comus " had been given, but it was by no means as elaborate as the production of "Old Fortunatus."
The parts, with two exceptions, were taken by students of the College, and several of the actors approached the rank of professionals, by their remarkably sympathetic portrayals. The undertaking was rendered the more difficult by the lack of precedent for performance, the play not having been given since its first production before Queen Elizabeth; but careful investigation of the period surmounted all difficulties.
A satisfactory edition of the play was lacking, and to supply the want, a text based upon that of the Mermaid Series, edited by Ernest Rhys was prepared, and printed at the Tufts College Press.
A feature of the performance was the music, which was arranged by Prof. Leo R. Lewis from tunes of the period. No mention of the original music was found in any edition of the play, and extended search in American and European libraries failed to throw any light on the subject. Careful selection was therefore made from works of the period. Several numbers were adapted from Stafford Smith's " Musica Antiqua " and Edward Naylor's "Shakespeare and Music." The harmonizations were made with the utmost care, and no musical forms were used which were unknown to the composers of the time. A further
|effort was made to reproduce the musical effects of the early seventeenth century in the choice of instruments for the orchestra.|
For the designs of the costumes, recourse was had to the works of such painters as Corvus, Holbein, Geldrop, Zuccaro, Von Somer, Gheerhaldts, and Van Mirrevelt. The stuffs used were rich and brilliant, yet harmonious, and the court scenes especially, provided an opportunity for striking color pictures.
The production was in the open air on one of the terraces of the south Campus, and a special auditorium in the form of an amphitheatre was erected. The deep stage, which was greensward, included a large portion of the shaded Campus, and made possible some very effective groupings, particularly in the woodland scenes.
The production attracted wide attention, and the audiences at the performances were large, although threatening weather kept away many who had signified their intention of attending. Representatives of many colleges and schools were present, and several English classes made arrangements to see the play.
P. M. H.