Teaching Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay: Another Classroom Performance (2004)


Para1The 2004 production was a lot of fun, as the reviews below indicate. The group had four actors. Two of them played the fathers in beards, fighting each other over Margaret of Fressingfield. The perspective glass television set showed the student-filmed video. The same two actors played the sons without beards, coming to Friar Bacon to see how their fathers are doing at home. And like father, like son: both sons repeat the fathers’ actions in anger for revenge, this time live onstage. The whole thing was simple, clever, and memorable. As you can see in the reviews, the video was not the only great spectacular moment: the stabbing sequence and streamers of blood in the killing of the scholars created a sensation. We had talked about this stage trick with ribbons in medieval drama, and the group used it to good effect here. The other great spectacle was Bacon breaking his magic glass at the end, a desperate blow aimed at the television but frozen before it could destroy university property. Unfortunately, performances of scenes from this play in 2007 did not survive my computer crash, nor did the performance essays.

Audience Response

Para2Audience Mark: A+
Para3Interpretation of Concept: Begins with Bacon’s arrogance over his perspective glass experiments; and ends with Bacon destroying the glass. Nice balance. Corruption of power and abuse of abilities. Scene is about Bacon’s transformation and repentance.
Para4Roles: Bacon projected voice well. She shows lots of feeling, expressive voice tones, passionate performance. Also Dan as scholar: perfect for the role. Many liked the accent. Bungay mumbled. The two scholars put on a great fight scene, on tape and on stage. Scholars seemed casual and arrogant, thinking they know everything (just like men at university). But all the characters were great. It was so good I couldn’t tell who was the best. I think they all worked equally well, and that is important. Great job by all. Good timing by everyone. Perfect!
Para5Costuming: Friars in white robes, with large crosses, looked pious. Scholars had sashes. Simple costumes, but the whole thing worked. Chairs, candle enough to create a set.
Para6Props and/or Set: Chairs, candle enough to create a set. Bibles and rosaries of the friars were a nice touch. Video as magic perspective glass showing fathers fight. Even the blue screen adds to the dimension of the illusory world of magic. Red streamers for blood was great! The butter knife was funny. Loved the programs.
Para7Favourite Moment: The fight! The stabbing was well choreographed. The simultaneous stabbing and instant streamers of blood awesome! Very professional, and the movie was very creative. Use of the TV was stroke of genius in displaying Bacon’s magic. Deaths of the scholars emphasized the problems of using magic.
Para8Overall: Well prepared, funny, exciting. Great performance. Excellent! The best. Awesome! Extremely creative, magical, inventive, exceptional. Extremely entertaining. Fantastic! Brutally violent! Hurrah!! Excellent, excellent, excellent. Amazing. I want to see it again. Mark should be 12 out of 10. Absolutely sensational.


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.

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.

Queenʼs Men Editions (QME1)

The Queen’s Men Editions anthology is led by Helen Ostovich, General Editor; Peter Cockett, General Editor (Performance); and Andrew Griffin, General Editor (Text).