Share this page

The following is an imagined account from the life of Robert Armin, fellow actor with William Shakespeare in the Lord Chamberlain's Men.


Pancakes and mustard! That’s what I like to say. That’s why he chose me! You know - Touchstone in As You Like It! It was my first part in the new Globe. What a great year 1599 was: in some ways the start of my acting career – certainly my major break. The days of grammar school back in King’s Lynn and those seven years training to be a goldsmith seemed far behind me, as I sat and watched the Lord Chamberlain’s Men: Augustine Phillips, Henry Condell, Will Sly, Richard Burbage, John Heminges, Thomas Pope, Christopher Beeston, John Duke – all of them great in their way. And funny Will Kemp was there, too, showing off as usual, always saying a bit more than was set down for him. Anyway, Will Shakespeare had invited me to perform before the company to see if they wanted to take me on, and I was watching a performance of theirs just beforehand.

‘It’ll give you a sense of our mettle’, Will had said. And he even made sure I had a special seat in the Lord’s Room. But he didn’t have to butter me up. I know what it is to write – all those ballads of mine, verses and a play: The Two Maids of Moreclack. I like to think that title gave Shakespeare the idea of writing The Merry Wives of Windsor. And I knew I wanted to work with Will. Needless to say they took me on. Will Kemp – ever popular - was just on his way out – nothing acrimonious, but he was ready to move on. And along I came. And then Feste, which used my full talents of singing: A great while ago the world begun, With hey ho, the wind and the rain, But that’s all one, our play is done, And we’ll strive to please you every day! And that’s what we all did. We tried our best to please.

Cast: Martin Smith, The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Help keep Shakespeare's story alive

Donate Online

More like this

Shakespedia Index

Go behind the scenes

Read our blogs
Where Shakespeare's story started Relive Shakespeare's love story Walk in Shakespeare's footsteps