The Plays of William Brandage - Part 1

Character Background

OOC Note from the the Player of Master William Brandage:

Whenever the poet quirk comes into play as part of a turnsheet action the GMs toss a coin to determine if the angel or demon has the upper hand in the creative process. Either way the quality of the writing will still be high, but the effect it has on the audience will have unexpected results (e.g. a play advocating temperance may inspire an entire town to swear off the booze for 40 days and 40 nights, or it may cause the town to swear off the booze, but everyone breaks their promise and there is an outbreak of illicit partying and a rise in the cases of the pox as drunken orgies erupt everywhere).

[…] Not all is rosy in William's garden however… he's aware if a certain dichotomy in his works, the effect on the audience can be enlightening or quite the opposite. The plays always go down well, but the mood of the crowd and their actions after are hard to predict. Ultimately the people like the plays, so the players don't mind, but William is concerned by the dual nature of his muse…

Turnsheet 1

Extracts from the trunsheet response of Master William Brandage. Except for the news.

The Labours of Hercules

Performed at the Earl of Doncaster's party.

“The Labours of Hercules” is going to be one of your masterworks, you just know it. You write the whole thing in a daze, the words seeming to just flow on to the page, inspired by your muse. Rehearsal go well too, since you'll be performing it at a party you keep the staging simple and your actors seem to have little trouble getting into their roles. For a wonder even Sir Simony de Vries doesn't screw anything up and his conjuring tricks actually seem to improve the play. (You are amazed having met the man.)

And it's a roaring success at the party! Of course the party itself is a roaring success, but you can tell how well it's received because even the more drunken members of the audience are at least trying to concentrate on it. […]

It's not until you stage it at the Rose that you begin to notice that there might be a few small flaws with the whole thing that somehow escaped your notice. For starters the actor you've cast as Hercules is one of your regular choices for leading man, but he normally plays kings. And he seems to have decided that that's how he'll play Hercules, which is a fair reading of your script. But somehow when he stands on stage declaiming away he doesn't look like a king but the King. That would be all right, after all Hercules is a hero, except for the attention he plays Iolaus. Knowing the Earl's reputation for wild parties you've hinted that Herc's affection for Iolaus is more than that between cousins. But with the “King” leering at a man on stage, while ignoring the unsubtle advances of the Queen of the Amazons, it doesn't look quite so clever.

It's almost a relief when the Lord Chamberlain closes the whole thing down after a few days.

An expeditionary battle against the Spanish

An extract from the turnsheet response of Master William Brandage. Written by Ivan.

Your play is a fine piece of work. Once more you are inspired by your muse (or at least a muse). The play emphasises what a great leader of men and fine tactician Sir Luca Braganza is. The third act features a cavalry charge against the Spanish, routing them and driving them off, which is a brilliant piece of writing and stagecraft both. But it is the final act which contains the best work. In it Sir Braganza moves amongst the fallen and dead of both sides and reveals his inner nobility. Though in the courts and drawing rooms of England he may lack social grace on the (stage) battlefield his heart opens. He gives a glorious soliloquy mourning the necessity of war and praising his valiant foes. Many in the audience are driven to tears at this point as the actor points out that just as we are all equals in death we should treat each others as brothers in life and never lose our respect for each other even when our disagreements bring us to blows.

Setting up in The Rose

As the new playwright in residence for the Lord Admirals men I should make my debut at the rose (see housekeepingfor this play details). Put it on at the Rose and see if Choronzon appears to watch the play have a word with him during the interval, introducing myself as playwright in residence and asking what his tastes in the theatre are. I do not wish to strike a bargain of any sort with the demon, merely make his acquaintance as someone who also has an interest in The Rose Theatre and the Lord Admiral's Men.

Choronzon turns up for each and every performance at the globe, so you have an opportunity to speak with him on the first night of your staging of “The Labours of Hercules”. You approach him during an interval and he seems perfectly affable, completely failing to breath fire at you or stink of sulphur. Before you can speak he compliments you on your fine writing and the excellent staging of your play. You realise that, although he may be a fallen angel and corrupter of souls, he does at least have taste. As you talk he seems perfectly amiable and reasonable. When he compliments you the words seem genuine, and he does criticise some of your dramatic choices. You are left wishing all critics were like this.

When you ask him what he wants to see, he replies with enthusiasm. He wants to see escapism! The audience live harsh lives of mundanity and toil out on the grimy streets of London. When they come to the theatre they want to escape all that. They want to see magic and excitement, high adventure and low comedy. All the things that are missing in their humdrum lives. Give them a glimpse of the fantastic and wondrous!

As you leave Choronzon compliments you on your care and notes that you have accrued no debt to him, and he none to you. He does however warn you that he still holds a special place in his heart for the Rose Theatre and the Lord Admiral's Men. And with perfect grace he informs you that while he enjoyed this little chat, and looks forward to more in future, he wouldn't want them to become too frequent. He comes to the theatre for the plays, not for the debates.

Sworn Companions (Fryends)

Write a debut play to be performed at the Rose Theatre, a light hearted comedy featuring the new Cafe Culture and gentlemen (and ladies) who partake of it in abundance. “Fryends” will be set in such a coffee house, and feature a core cast of 3 ladies and 3 men discussing the everyday occurrences in their love lives, social faux pas and dilemmas of society living (a supporting cast will feature Gunther, the German coffee house waiter). It might be noted that one of the lead characters bears a slight (and not offensive) resemblance to Sir Richard Molyneaux.

I shall be at your side
Even in the tempest
I shall be at your side
As I have ever before
I shall be at your side
For I know you shall be too

Your financial backers veto the title “Fryends”, they think it smacks too much of the common folk. Instead they force you to title the play, or rather the series of short plays, “Sworn Companions” though you do manage to sneak it into the printed folio. You decide to try this as an experiment; instead of an evening's entertainment lasting 2 or 3 hours and costing a few pennies each performance of “Sworn Companions” last less than an hour and all performance are matinees. Each week you change the script being performed which allows you to keep the audience coming (and you repeat old performances using the understudies). It's an immense success bringing in plenty of money which is good luck considering the early closure of “Hercules and His Labours”.

The only problem is the actors. All of them, but particularly those playing Dick Milnew. No matter how careful you are with the stage directions or innocent you make the lines they seem to extract something more from them. Dick Milnew seems to exam everything with covetous eyes, weighing the monetary value of every part of the set and even of the other characters. His hands seem to linger just a moment too long whenever they pick up money. This makes the fact that all the cast seem to play their roles as bedhopping harlots almost minor. You try chopping and changing and entirely replacing the cast but it doesn't seem to do any good.

Letter from the Earl of Cumberland

You receive a letter from your patron:

To Master William Brandage,

It is a source of continuing vexation to me that, as I grow older, the character of our great nation seems to grow ever more frivolous, turning aside from the real victories to be won in our lives in favour of a retreat into fantasy and dreams. Fantasy and dreams did not make Albion great, toil and hardship did. I now feel that just as the theatre has reflected our trivial nature back at us, giving us comedies in which men disguise as women and vice versa and none sees through the most ridiculous disguise, that it could help bring us back to reality. I therefore request that your future output should consist of plays that deal with the world as it is and not as we would wish it to be. Histories, the rise and fall of great men and women, the fall of empires - these are the true gems of the theatre.

Your devoted patron,

Lord Robert, Earl of Cumberland


Banning of a Play at the Rose Theatre

An official looking document pinned to the door of the Rose Theatre, with the seal of the Lord Chamberlain attached.


The license granted to Master William Brandage to stage and present the play “The Labours of Hercules” is herewith and with effect immediate revoked. The Office of the Lord Chamberlain, by the Grace of King Henry IX, granted authority as guardian of the theatre and of its audience additionally fines the holder of this license the sum of £50 for performances liable to lead to the corruption of the public morals and…

“The Labours of Hercules” only manages three performances before it is cancelled. However, the elite few who got a chance to see it have been raving about it; apparently it's an amazing work of artistry, if a little controversial.

Plays being performed at the Rose Theatre

A Playbill

All are in Awe of the mighty Sir Luca Braganza as his force of Arms and his Noble Nature are launched in to battle against ALL the Powers of Spain! His Cunning tactics and Brilliant leadership are not the only portion of his nature revealed in this Stunning play by that Rising Star of the theatre, William Brandage. No audience member will be able to hold back the Tears as the most brilliant speech the Stage has ever seen laments the necessity of War but honours the Valiant Foe.

For lunch Attend the Brand New fourth short play featuring the ever popular “Sworn Companions”. William Brandage once more shows the Wit that has made these Comedies the talk of all London, as we present the first performance of “The One with the Washerwoman”. Dick Milnew and his Saucy Sister Raquel must endure the scandalous revealing of their secrets and laundry in public! And back by Popular Demand this Wednesday only, the final repeat performance of “The One with the Alchemical Hearts”, in which all our Coffee House favourites learn that you can't make love with magic!

The play featuring the fictional exploits of the Sir Luca Braganza in Spain is a great success. The solilouqy in the final act leaves many of the audience in tears as it reveals Sir Braganza's depth of nobility as he tours the aftermath of the battle and comments that all men are equal in death and should treat each other as brothers in life. The series of popular bawdy comedies featuring the coffee house customers known as the “Sworn Companions” causes regular scandal as the customers of a coffee house in London get up to a series of unlikely adventures though it does excellent business, especially from repeat performances. The money-grabbing, greedy, covetous character of Dick Milnew bears something of a resemblance to Sir Richard Molyneux…


“It hasn't been performed publicly yet, but I hear that the play Master Brandage wrote for the Earl of Doncaster was something a bit special! Controversial, mind, but I'd love to see a copy of the script…”

Turnsheet 2

Extracts from the trunsheet response of Master William Brandage. Except for the news.


You receive word from the Earl of Cumberland that he's had something of an argument with the Bishop of Hereford. He's very vague about the circumstances, it may even have been an unintentionally offensive remark by the Bishop. Whatever the circumstances the Earl wants him cut down to size.

A character clearly identifiable as the Bishop should appear in one of your next plays, and he should be a corrupter usurer and a servant of infernal powers. If you want to add any extra vices then the Earl won't be unhappy but those are the worst, and thus most important, ones to charge a devout churchman with.

The Golden Ship

The play is a knockout success blending the tragic tale of lovers separated by a cruel King and a fierce ocean with the fantastic sights of the furthest West. You make sure to contrast the humdrum life of London and the ship with the fantastic elements of the Aztecs and the incredible return to a London made suddenly magical by the ship that appears in it.

Unfortunately some of what the rigger told you seems to have crept into the play. Many of the actors playing the natives seem to have frequent wardrobe malfunctions and you receive a sternly worded letter from the Lord Chamberlain's Office warning you to keep things under control… You lose most of the first two week's takings on bribing an official from that Office, that you fortunately recognise in the audience, to forget that the Princess Xochtyl's exotic wrappings fell off. Of course it does make the play quite popular.

A bigger problem is the actor playing Captain Jameson can't quite seem to hit the right note as a brave captain and dashing man of romance. Instead he comes across as a stiff martinet who forces the Princess into bed with lines which are supposed to sound romantic but which come across as bullying and threatening.


The Golden Ship

A playbill for a new play at the Rose Theatre

The Lord Admiral's Men and the brilliant new playwright William Brandage present their latest masterpiece - The Golden Ship. A brave captain finds extraordinary adventure, crushing danger and exotic romance in the New World. Leaving the humdrum world of London and the little Europe of the Ship we are plunged into a savage vision of life in the Americas where the King's beautiful daughter pledges her heart and tragedy calls to the loving couple.

The audience for the play is increasingly rowdy because it quickly gains a reputation for displays of flesh and frequent wardrobe malfunctions. Somehow it escapes the attention of the Lord Chamberlain's Office and the censors however.

At the Crossroads Inn

Another playbill from the Rose Theatre

Replacing the popular “Sworn Companions”, the Rose Theatre is proud to present the latest dramatic extension of the its serialised matinee format. Come follow the life and loves, laughs and losses of an extended family who run a coaching inn, (including the simple, but humorous simpleton, Benjamin the stablehand who is sure to be an audience favourite!). Exciting new characters appear every week as passing guests, regular travellers or people whose carriage has broken and are awaiting repairs. In our first week a man in black comes calling. Is he an honest traveller, a terrible highwayman or worst of all a Jesuit? Come find out this lunchtime.

bonus.plays_of_william_brandage_1.txt · Last modified: 2008/03/26 23:13 by ivan