The Plays of William Brandage - Part 2

Turnsheet 3

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

Arthurian Epic

Oh dear! It really is a lovely play, apart from the nail-bomb.

The preliminary rehearsals go off fine. It's a really great play. (See news.)

Against the strong advice of Hans Franzberg, The Duke of Somerset is absolutely insistent on a full dress rehearsal, including all props and stage devices, BEFORE the King and Princess Elizabeth get anywhere near it, no matter how fiddly it is to reload those little model cannons on the ships.

Thank God.

Therefore, between the foresight of the Duke and Master Brandage, only the chorus, the leading lady, both fools, all stage-hands, the musicians, and Merlin are killed when Franzberg's ship mechanism is tested. Arthur is seriously maimed, Sir Kay takes a musket-ball to the kneecap and will never fence again, Sir Galahad the Pure will never have an opportunity to be otherwise again, and it is only Uther Paendrag's exceedingly quick reflexes which prevent him being decapitated by low-flying rigging.

With a concerted effort, and with many men on loan from other troupes, the Players of London pull together as they have never pulled before, stay up through the night to learn their lines, swear off drink, rebuild the stage as they rehearse various scenes. Choronzon himself makes a rare departure from the Rose Theatre to manifest in Somerset, being remarkably helpful, generally assuring things go to plan, and averting the sort of poor-luck accidents that happen when actors and stage-hands are tired and nervous. The Earl of Cumberland sends a sizeable financial contribution.

With a cast not even slightly as billed, and with the naval battle cut entirely from the script, the play is performed as scheduled before the King and Princess Elizabeth. It is a roaring success, both love it, and are even seen staring mistily into one another's eyes during Arthur and Guinevere's first meeting.

Oswyn and his Angels work their fingers to the bone repairing musket-tattered costumes, and various court ladies and gentlemen swoon at the wonderful creations appearing on stage. You can't even see the bloodstains by the first night, it's quite astounding.

Master Brandage and Master Franzberg are invited to present their explanations for the situation to His Majesty in court.

Hans Franzberg is:

  1. Blacklisted by the company of London Players
  2. Bound not to leave Somerset until the investigation is concluded
  3. Followed at all times by several heavily-armed men looking threateningly at him and his loyal hatrack.
  4. Forbidden from touching anything more mechanically complex than a cheese-grater,
  5. To be shot on site if seen in the presence of gunpowder, Alchemist's Fire or anything else more combustible than salt.

Faction Briefing - The Companies of London Players

Recent News and Events of Note

The Rose

“Someone from the Invisible College - a graduate student, apparently - has been sniffing around the Rose Theatre, maybe talking to Choronzon. Last time they tried to exorcise him half our best leading men came down with the Pox simultaneously and most of our leading ladies grew beards. For God's sake find who it is and make sure they aren't going to try anything like that!”

The Disaster

While in rehearsals for that Arthurian epic due to be performed before the King himself and Princess Elizabeth, from the pen of William Brandage, the Lord Admiral's men suffered a terrible disaster. A stage-prop, apparently in the shape of some sort of ship - clockwork-driven - exploded in the dress rehearsal, firing the musketballs it had been packed with out in all directions. The chorus, Guinevere, both fools, all stage-hands, the musicians, and Merlin were killed outright. Arthur was seriously maimed and in the care of the local Witch, Sir Kay took a musket-ball to the kneecap and will never fence again, Sir Galahad the Pure will never have an opportunity to be otherwise again, and it was only Uther Paendrag's exceedingly quick reflexes which prevented him being decapitated by low-flying rigging.

The Players, in true London style, pulled themselves out of the pubs and whorehouses and rallied round the shattered Admiral's Men, staying up all night to learn lines, cutting and rewriting scenes, desperately rebuilding props and making sure Brandage is attended at all times by a comforting and matronly ex-Leading Lady who ensures he can't hang himself in the quiet moments. Master Oswyn Osillbury, the King's Tailor, is an angel of mercy, working his fingers to the bone re-sewing tattered costumes and set dressings. The Earl of Cumberland sends a substantial financial contribution, and, the crowning glory, Choronzon himself makes a rare departure from the Rose to manifest in Somerset for a series of voice-coaching sessions and “Special Effects” preparations.

After a series of the sort of miracles that are achieved when talented humans work to their peak, the play is finally performed - With a cast not even slightly as billed, and with the naval battle cut entirely from the script. It is a roaring success.

The Lord Admiral's Men have been decimated, but the Players have discovered a strange and sudden unity brought about by the death and disaster. And their will, once the curtain has come down, is as one: Find Hans Franzberg, the Inventor who built the ship, and have him torn to pieces.


Lambert - Downfall of a Man

From “The City Idler”

”…this week Your Man in the Penny-Pit has been jostling elbows with audiences at Master Brandage's latest crowd-puller, the tragickal, occasionally bawdy and occasionally bloody tale of a noble aristocrat whose wife seeks to perform good works with the church, but sadly volunteers at the local Cat Sanctuary, run by a corrupt Bishop. Very much in the Greek mode, with plenty of gore and scantily-clad female performers (young Will Seldom notable for his performance as the Succubus; his Italian accent is excellent). The old puns on Cat Houses and so forth are wheeled out with good grace, and all in all it is something of a “Romp”, to use the latest coffeehouse argot. The tragickal end of the unnamed Bishop, in a beautifully staged explosion while clubbing one of Lord Lambert's loyal greyhounds to death, is particularly notable, and Lambert is a hero who - now reunited with his wayward wife, saved from the clutches of Hell - the mob think may even bear out a sequel…”

Menace and Mayhem in the Lord Admiral's Men

A Pamphlet: Hastily and cheaply printed, and circulated around taverns and coffeehouses where members of the Companies of London Players are known to congregate.

”…call to Somerset, that we might have the aid of our Brethren in this our time of need. Put aside rivalries of Company and Author; all debts will be paid, all favours returned, for the Players of London have today lost some of our best and brightest. Fair Jebediah Michaels will never walk again, and brave Ben Donne is gone from us forever. Whether accident or hideous conspiracy caused that disastrous explosion we know not, but the result is the same: The Lord Admiral's Men are decimated, their Author near ruin with misery and their Leading Lady has gone with God. Master Oswyn Osillbury's finest costumes are in tatters. Bring your selves, bring your voices, bring your pens and carpenters and properties, for the showe is for the King, and The Showe Must Go On.”

A document circulated generally shortly before Court, bearing the seal of Tudor.

“Let it be known that Master William Brandage of London and Master Hans Franzberg of Austria are to present themselves at their immediate convenience to His Majesty the King to provide an explanation for the most hideous occurrence and Vile Murder surrounding the rehearsal of Master Brandage's most recent play. Master Brandage and Master Franzberg are bound not to leave Somerset until His Majesty so decrees it.”

From “The City Idler”, a popular serial pamphlet including reviews of recent plays and performances.

”…your correspondent finds himself this week not a City but a Country Idler, in the idyllic and remarkably flame-free surroundings of Somerset, where Master Brandage's most recent offering has been set before the King himself as a prelude to the coming Court to be held upon the Duke's lands. You will no doubt by now have heard of the terrible disaster blighting rehearsals for the piece, caused apparently by some defective stage-prop - and your correspondent will pause a moment here to note that it was not last month he was crying out for the days when good honest Conjuration was enough for a show's flash-bangs, and none of this fiddly mechanical nonsense! - and utterly decimating Master Brandage's cast, set and properties.

Given this ill beginning, the performance was nevertheless a remarkable success. Particularly notable was the appearance of Mistress Mary Feldspar as Guinevere - those of you who follow the Lord Chamberlain's Men may remember Mistress Feldspar's excellent Romeo last summer, and it is clear that she is now ready to tackle more mature roles; perhaps we shall see her Titania before the decade is out! Master Oswyn Osillbury's costumes did more than justice to the excellent set, which, given the rumour your correspondent has heard that they were in shreds and tatters from musket-shot not two days before the performance opened, is a feat of tailoring attributable only to Angelic assistance.

His Majesty and Princess Elizabeth appeared most delighted with the performance, and despite a fear of displeasure from Good King Harry on the naval battle cut so rudely from the script at the last moment, were even seen staring into one another's eyes as Arthur and Guinevere shared their first kiss.

Meanwhile, my theatre gossips tell me that Uther Paendrag (or honest Jack Staywhelp of the Chiswick Players to you and I) has recently been seen in the company of…”

Any Noble who wishes to have attended the pre-Court performance of Brandage's play may have done so. It is a remarkably fine performance of the first part of the Arthurian epic, notably lacking in any adultery. The costumes are enviable.

Playbill: At the Crossroads Inn

Another playbill from the Rose Theatre.


MARVEL as Sir Luca Braganza (played by honest Thomas Jonson), with his sweet wife and precocious son (Elizabeth Carmichael) stop by the Inn and share the hospitality of your well-loved personages!

DELIGHT at the Japes and Capers that occur!

HORROR at the plots of the vile Papist Fenian rebels!

WONDER at the loyal Irishman who assists the daring Knight of the Realm in his hour of need!

Funne for Alle the Family!

(Performances between sunset Saturday and dawn Monday suspended in respect for His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, God rest his soul.)

bonus.plays_of_william_brandage_2.txt · Last modified: 2008/03/26 23:13 by ivan