Thomas Middleton's
A CHASTE MAID IN CHEAPSIDE

December 29, 2014, 7:30 pm

Lucille Lortel Theatre • 121 Christopher Street

with Bill Army, Jenny Bacon, Sheila Bandyopadhyay, David Barlow, Nigel Gore, Miriam Hyman, Colby Lewis, Ted Lewis, Renata Melillo, Caitlin O'Connell, Petronia Paley, Liv Rooth, Raphael Nash Thompson, Sam Tsoutsouvas, Marc Vietor, Andrew Weems

Directed by Ben Prusiner

 

"Women had need of wit if they'll shift here,

And she that hath wit may shift anywhere."

 

Must chaste maids be chased maids? Money and marriage collide in this cacophonous city comedy as poor Moll contends with the aptly-named Whorehound, her arranged husband to be.

 

Take a trip to Cheapside, London’s greatest meat market!  Poor Mr. & Mrs. Touchwood can’t stop having kids, while Sir Kix and Lady Kix can’t have any.  Mr. Allwit’s got several, but luckily the real father foots the bill.  And the Yellowhammers are convinced that a knight named Whorehound is the perfect husband to bring their daughter into high society.  Through it all, young lovers pledge their everlasting devotion - even if they aren’t speaking exactly the same language.  Join the citizens of Cheapside for a day.  How chaste would you be?

 

The OBIE Award-Winning Revelation Readings series provides a unique opportunity to hear new and rarely-produced classic plays performed by many of the finest actors in New York.

 
ABOUT the PLAYWRIGHT

 

Thomas Middleton (1580–1627) was an English playwright and poet. Born in London, Middleton was the son of a bricklayer who had raised himself to the status of a gentleman. He was five years old when his father died. His mother's remarriage resulted in a fifteen-year battle over the inheritance of the children, an experience that perhaps accounts for Middleton’s repeated satirizing of the legal profession.

 

Middleton matriculated at Queen’s College, Oxford, in 1598, although he did not graduate. He began his literary career while still at Oxford, publishing three long poems, including a verse satire that was burned on the order of the Anglican Church.

 

Like many playwrights of the time, Middleton collaborated extensively with others, including Thomas Dekker (The Roaring Girl), William Rowley (A Fair Quarrel, The Changeling). He also wrote a number of plays on his own, including his city comedy A Chaste Maid in Cheapside and probably the The Revenger’s Tragedy. He also participated in revising Macbeth and Measure for Measure. Middleton’s friendship with Dekker brought him into conflict with Ben Jonson and George Chapman in the War of the Theatres. Middleton's Inner Temple Masque (1619) takes a swipe at “silenced bricklayers,” believed to be a reference to Jonson, who was then away in Scotland. The conflict with Jonson continued as late as 1626, when Jonson's play The Staple of News mocked Middleton's A Game at Chess.

 

Middleton was one of the busiest and most successful popular writers of the period, making his living primarily as a pamphleteer. He had no binding affiliation with any theater company, but rather wrote on a freelance basis for several of them. He was one of the few Renaissance dramatists to achieve success in comedy, history, and tragedy. He was also a prolific writer of masques and pageants. As a result of his involvement with civic pageants, he was appointed City Chronologer to the City of London in 1620, a post he held until his death seven years later (at which point the post was given to Ben Jonson).

 

Middleton’s last known play for the commercial theater was the political allegory A Game at Chess (1624), which satirized the intrigue surrounding the Spanish Match (the controversial proposed marriage of Prince Charles, the son of King James I, to the Spanish Infanta Maria). Though Middleton’s approach in the play was patriotic, the Spanish Ambassador complained about the play and the Privy Council shut it down after nine performances. It is believed that Middleton was forbidden to write for the stage following this incident. 

 

Middleton is best known for The Changeling and for Women Beware Women (produced by Red Bull Theater in 2008), and is believed by many to have written the anonymous play The Revenger’s Tragedy (produced by Red Bull Theater in 2005.) 
 

Middleton died at his home in Southwark in 1627.

 

 

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