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The following is an imagined account from the life of Henry Condell who was a good friend and fellow actor of William Shakespeare. Together with John Heminges, he edited Shakespeare's 1623 Folio.


He used to come and worship with us quite often at St Mary’s, Aldermanbury, which was only ten minutes from his lodgings. Heminges and I were churchwardens there – though looking back, I don’t know how we managed all that and the work at the playhouses. I met Heminges when Lord Strange’s Men visited my home town of Norwich, back in 1593. I moved up to London with my mother shortly afterwards. We’d inherited my uncle’s tavern, The Queen’s Head, near the Middle Temple. My lovely wife Elizabeth gave me my big break, though – always very generous with her money she was, and I was able to buy shares in the King’s Men in 1603, and the Globe a couple of years later. I acted for our pal Ben Jonson, too – Sejanus, Volpone, The Alchemist, and Catiline. And good John Marston even cast me as myself in the induction to The Malcontent. I didn’t mind coming across as slightly bossy – because someone has to be around theatre folk! And I was able to show off some of my Latin, too. I was trying to tot up with Heminges the other day the number of times we’ve taken part in performances at court before their majesties Elizabeth, James, and Charles.

We reckon on at least 250 times –so far, and – very likely more! But, you know, putting together Will’s folio – it was was really quite an undertaking. How we slogged away – and for six of the plays we actually had to use Shakespeare’s own manuscripts. Now let me see... The Comedy of Errors, Julius Caesar, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, or What you Will (he was always keen on that subtitle – unusual for him), All’s Well That End’s Well, and Antony and Cleopatra. Yes – that right. Not sure what happened to the prompt copies, but thank goodness, the originals had all been preserved by his good wife Anne at New Place. And it is true – there wasn’t a single crossing out on any of his fair pages. Sir John Salusbury even dedicated a poem to Heminges and me when he’d received his copy of our Folio, mentioning our ‘undaunted pains’ and how we ‘did not dig for gold’. He knew it was a labour of love!

Cast: Henry Goodman

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