‘I am but a fool, look you’: Will Kemp and the Performance of Welshness
Keywords:Shakespeare, Will Kemp, Fluellen, Launce, Henry V, Welsh
Many scholars believe that actor Will Kemp left William Shakespeare’s company in early 1599, prompting the playwright to omit Kemp’s character Falstaff from Henry V. This essay proposes that Kemp stepped down as a shareholder but remained with the Lord Chamberlain’s men as an actor through the summer and autumn of 1599, taking small parts in Julius Caesar and the role of the Welsh Captain Fluellen in Henry V. Evidence that one of Kemp’s acknowledged parts, Launce in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, was written to be performed as a figure of Welsh descent, supports this contention.
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