We are proud to devote issue 14.2 of Early Theatre to the insights that have emerged from sustained collaborative engagement with Newdigate-linked manuscripts, particularly with the four plays found in the Arbury manuscript, The Humorous Magistrate, The Emperor's Favourite, The Twice Chang'd Friar, and Ghismonda and Guiscardo.
In addition to showcasing the excellent work produced under the oversight of Mary Polito and Amy Scott, this special issue encourages further examination of The Humorous Magistrate, The Emperor's Favourite, The Twice Chang'd Friar, Ghismonda and Guiscardo, and other manuscript plays.
Ghismonda and Guiscardo, a tragedy based on Boccaccio's Decameron 4.1, contains an eighteen line prologue and a twelve line epilogue; The Twice Chang'dFriar, a comedy based on Decameron 4.2, contains a twenty-two line prologue and a fourteen line epilogue; The Emperor's Favourite, a Roman tragedy that draws from Juvenal's and Suetonius's descriptions of Nero's favourite Crispinus, contains a sixteen line prologue; and The Humorous Magistrate, an original comedy, features a twenty-four line prologue and a thirteen line epilogue.
In Ghismonda and Guiscardo, the prologue worries 'we shall faile' if it is 'a fault to shew you how a story / May be preseru'd' (1-4).
The epilogue to Ghismonda and Guiscardo explains his task to the audience:
Ghismonda and Guiscardo's epilogue promotes the idea that the playwright and audience feel mutual respect for each other.
Ghismonda and Guiscardo's prologue, however, entertains the possibility that its audience will act like a playhouse audience: 'tmay be' it concedes, 'you will hiss / At our kind of expression' (10-11).
The prologue of Ghismonda and Guiscardo, furthermore, asks the literate, skilled spectator to act like a reader of poetry:
At the very least, Ghismonda and Guiscardo's prologue asks the audience not only to watch the play but to hear its language and, moreover, listen to the play as critically as a fellow artist reads a written work.