Teaching Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay: Major Assignment


Meet and get to know your group members: get everyone’s phone and email access. Read the play aloud together, discuss its meaning, and select a tentative scene for your 5-7 minutes of performance. This may take more than one meeting. Timing is a key factor. We may need 6 groups to perform within a 50-minute period. Keep your set to a minimum.
In the library or online, read current scholarly and performance views of your play. Each person should locate at least 3 articles of value in discussing meaning in the play as related to character, performance, setting, or any idea that appeals to you and which you would like to think about in terms of performance. Start with First Search, MLA Bibliography, and the Journal Portal online. (Teachers will want to consult with reference librarians at their own institutions to give their students current research tools and local access information.) Discuss what you’ve read with your group. Keep a list of what members of your group are reading and how you all assessed the articles. Do not expect one person to do all the research: each of you is responsible for finding scholarly articles and production reviews. Titles and abstracts of articles should be shared. One section of your final paper will be on the literature search (that means the list of research articles and books you’ve read) and how your group tried to incorporate, or decided not to use, the information. Information should be specific, and you should be able to identify by name students who find great articles or argue convincingly for adopting an idea that developed out of reading.
Read the scene you’ve selected with your group, experimenting with the casting. Look up any words or expressions you don’t understand. Check the pronunciation of unfamiliar words. Scan the verse lines to make sure emphasis and rhythms are accurate. Make sure there is always someone to act as voice coach and movement coach.
Rehearse the reading of verse lines so that the delivery is clear, and so that intonations and pauses are meaningful. Experiment with different attitudes in speaking and moving. You may discard many of your experiments, but they will help you find the right tone for your scene. Make sure each member of the group is projecting loudly enough, speaking slowly enough, and conveying a tone of voice important to the scene.
Discuss the shape of your scene: what point are you trying to make in your presentation? How does your scene help an audience to understand the rest of the play? Discuss the implications of your choices.
Work out blocking and movements to accompany your lines. Don’t feel you have to accept editorial stage-directions [often in square brackets]. Authorial stage directions should be considered carefully before you discard them. Remember that any staged action acquires meaning.

The Research/Performance Essay

The essay is due on the date specified. Check the date and schedule in the course syllabus. At your tutorial, you will receive reviews and participate in a de-briefing.

What do you include in your essay (10–12 pages)?

Essay format: a thesis is required, establishing your view of the play and the role you performed in it, which guided your perspective. You must have a research bibliography, including all articles or books you consulted, and including film or video consulted, and webpages consulted. The bibliography will list about 10–15 items, in alphabetical order by author, which includes all the materials consulted and shared by your group members. Check the Style Guide.
Comment on the group dynamic with your fellow-performers. How did rehearsals go? How were decisions made (about selecting and/or cutting the scene, casting, props, costumes, times to meet, voice, movement, etc.)? Be specific about decisions: give examples and name names. Attribute specific ideas to specific group-members. Did a director or voice coach emerge, or did you all share responsibility for voice and movement? How did your group’s dynamic help or hinder the rehearsals or the actual performance? This section is not a rehearsal diary: you are trying to track the ideas and interpretations that shaped your scene. It is both practical and theoretical.
The literature search for articles, professional play reviews, and books related to your play: how did your research help you make decisions? Did you watch any videos, and how did they help? How did you arrive at a final interpretation of your scene? Were critical articles/reviews, group readings, or group discussion most important finally? Did the group agree, or were there unresolved areas? Last-minute changes? Do not discount the research component. This is a significant one-third of your essay assignment. You do not have to agree with all the research, but you do have to discuss it and its impact on the group. Your reasons for disagreeing will be shaping your view of the play and how it should be performed.
What did you learn about the play (the characters, the concepts, the poetry or rhetoric) by performing? What did you learn about the difference between reading, rehearsing, and performing? How did this exercise help you understand the kind of creativity that goes into reading, thinking about, and collaborating on drama?


Helen Ostovich

Helen Ostovich, professor emerita of English at McMaster University, is the founder and general editor of Queen’s Men Editions. She is a general editor of The Revels Plays (Manchester University Press); Series Editor of Studies in Performance and Early Modern Drama (Ashgate, now Routledge), and series co-editor of Late Tudor and Stuart Drama (MIP); play-editor of several works by Ben Jonson, in Four Comedies: Ben Jonson (1997); Every Man Out of his Humour (Revels 2001); and The Magnetic Lady (Cambridge 2012). She has also edited the Norton Shakespeare 3 The Merry Wives of Windsor Q1602 and F1623 (2015); The Late Lancashire Witches and A Jovial Crew for Richard Brome Online, revised for a 4-volume set from OUP 2021; The Ball, for the Oxford Complete Works of James Shirley (2021); The Merry Wives of Windsor for Internet Shakespeare Editions, and The Dutch Courtesan (with Erin Julian) for the Complete Works of John Marston, OUP 2022. She has published many articles and book chapters on Jonson, Shakespeare, and others, and several book collections, most recently Magical Transformations of the Early Modern English Stage with Lisa Hopkins (2014), and the equivalent to book website, Performance as Research in Early English Theatre Studies: The Three Ladies of London in Context containing scripts, glossary, almost fifty conference papers edited and updated to essays; video; link to Queenʼs Mens Ediitons and YouTube: http://threeladiesoflondon.mcmaster.ca/contexts/index.htm, 2015. Recently, she was guest editor of Strangers and Aliens in London ca 1605, Special Issue on Marston, Early Theatre 23.1 (June 2020). She can be contacted at ostovich@mcmaster.ca.

Janelle Jenstad

Janelle Jenstad is a Professor of English at the University of Victoria, Director of The Map of Early Modern London, and Director of Linked Early Modern Drama Online. With Jennifer Roberts-Smith and Mark Kaethler, she co-edited Shakespeare’s Language in Digital Media: Old Words, New Tools (Routledge). She has edited John Stow’s A Survey of London (1598 text) for MoEML and is currently editing The Merchant of Venice (with Stephen Wittek) and Heywood’s 2 If You Know Not Me You Know Nobody for DRE. Her articles have appeared in Digital Humanities Quarterly, Elizabethan Theatre, Early Modern Literary Studies, Shakespeare Bulletin, Renaissance and Reformation, and The Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies. She contributed chapters to Approaches to Teaching Othello (MLA); Teaching Early Modern Literature from the Archives (MLA); Institutional Culture in Early Modern England (Brill); Shakespeare, Language, and the Stage (Arden); Performing Maternity in Early Modern England (Ashgate); New Directions in the Geohumanities (Routledge); Early Modern Studies and the Digital Turn (Iter); Placing Names: Enriching and Integrating Gazetteers (Indiana); Making Things and Drawing Boundaries (Minnesota); Rethinking Shakespeare Source Study: Audiences, Authors, and Digital Technologies (Routledge); and Civic Performance: Pageantry and Entertainments in Early Modern London (Routledge). For more details, see janellejenstad.com.

Joey Takeda

Joey Takeda is LEMDO’s Consulting Programmer and Designer, a role he assumed in 2020 after three years as the Lead Developer on LEMDO.

Kate LeBere

Project Manager, 2020–2021. Assistant Project Manager, 2019–2020. Textual Remediator and Encoder, 2019–2021. Kate LeBere completed her BA (Hons.) in History and English at the University of Victoria in 2020. During her degree she published papers in The Corvette (2018), The Albatross (2019), and PLVS VLTRA (2020) and presented at the English Undergraduate Conference (2019), Qualicum History Conference (2020), and the Digital Humanities Summer Institute’s Project Management in the Humanities Conference (2021). While her primary research focus was sixteenth and seventeenth century England, she completed her honours thesis on Soviet ballet during the Russian Cultural Revolution. She is currently a student at the University of British Columbia’s iSchool, working on her masters in library and information science.

Martin Holmes

Martin Holmes has worked as a developer in the UVicʼs Humanities Computing and Media Centre for over two decades, and has been involved with dozens of Digital Humanities projects. He has served on the TEI Technical Council and as Managing Editor of the Journal of the TEI. He took over from Joey Takeda as lead developer on LEMDO in 2020. He is a collaborator on the SSHRC Partnership Grant led by Janelle Jenstad.

Navarra Houldin

Project manager 2022-present. Textual remediator 2021-present. Navarra Houldin (they/them) completed their BA in History and Spanish at the University of Victoria in 2022. During their degree, they worked as a teaching assistant with the University of Victoriaʼs Department of Hispanic and Italian Studies. Their primary research was on gender and sexuality in early modern Europe and Latin America.

Peter Cockett

Peter Cockett is an associate professor in the Theatre and Film Studies at McMaster University. He is the general editor (performance), and technical co-ordinating editor of Queen’s Men Editions. He was the stage director for the Shakespeare and the Queen’s Men project (SQM), directing King Leir, The Famous Victories of Henry V, and Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay (2006) and he is the performance editor for our editions of those plays. The process behind those productions is documented in depth on his website Performing the Queen’s Men. Also featured on this site are his PAR productions of Clyomon and Clamydes (2009) and Three Ladies of London (2014). For the PLS, the University of Toronto’s Medieval and Renaissance Players, he has directed the Digby Mary Magdalene (2003) and the double bill of George Peele’s The Old Wives Tale and the Chester Antichrist (2004). He also directed An Experiment in Elizabethan Comedy (2005) for the SQM project and Inside Out: The Persistence of Allegory (2008) in collaboration with Alan Dessen. Peter is a professional actor and director with numerous stage and screen credits. He can be contacted at cockett@mcmaster.ca.



The LEMDO Team is based at the University of Victoria and normally comprises the project director, the lead developer, project manager, junior developers(s), remediators, encoders, and remediating editors.

QME Editorial Board (QMEB1)

The QME Editorial Board consists of Helen Ostovich, General Editor; Peter Cockett, General Editor (Performance); and Andrew Griffin, General Editor (Text), with the support of an Advisory Board.