THOMAS DALLAM – A TRAGICOMEDY OF ORIGINAL SPELLING IN THREE ACTS

Act 1, Scene 1 – Gravesend

[It is 1599. Enter the celebrated Renaissance organ builder THOMAS DALLAM, downcast & sighing. He is preparing to leave for the Levant to deliver a pipe organ, a gift from QUEEN ELIZABETH I, to the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.]

DALLAM: For my voyage into Turkie I have no frend to advise me in
any thinge. . .

[Enter QUEEN ELIZABETH I with items for Dallam’s voyage.]

QUEEN: Item one sute of sackcloth.

DALLAM (sighing): another sute.

QUEEN: Item three shirtes.

DALLAM (sighing): three shirtes more.

QUEEN: a pare of virginals.

DALLAM: a pare of virginals!

[He places the virginals on board HMS Hector. Exit QUEEN. Enter the CAPTAINE OF THE SHIPPE who is also bound by Sixteenth Century orthography.]

CAPTAINE: Anker is wayed!

[Exit the CAPTAINE OF THE SHIPPE.]

DALLAM (sighing): I forgot my fustion britches.

[Exit DALLAM]

Scene 2 – In the English Channel

[Sodonly a marvalus storme. Enter DALLAM.]

DALLAM: (sodon) We did not only louse our pinis we lost our selves.

[finding themselves again.]

We found our selves than we founde our pinis!

[Trumpet sounds. Enter the CAPTAINE OF THE SHIPPE.]

CAPTAINE: No, only our pinis.

DALLAM: We could spare the pinis.

[Enter MEN OF WAR.]

CAPTAINE (assaying the MEN OF WAR): Com the more bouldly upon us.

MEN OF WAR (ignoring him): Com under our Lee side.

CAPTAINE: See the stoutnes of our ship.

MEN OF WAR: Flye away!

[The CAPTAINE gives chase.]

MEN OF WAR: We have almost loste sighte of our pinis.

CAPTAINE: Com into my cabbin.

MEN OF WAR (unwillingly): We woll, we woll (by their speech, Dutchmen)

We are all Amberalls, rear Amberalls & wise Amberalls.

CAPTAINE: You speake good Inglishe.

MEN OF WAR: Let our shippes go. We are nothinge but men.

CAPTAINE (striding upon the spar deck): You are all a goner.

[Drawing his sword he kills the MEN OF WAR.]

I am becalmed.

DALLAM: Onwards to Barberie!

[Exit DALLAM & THE CAPTAINE OF THE SHIPPE.]

Scene 3 – Reaching Algiers

[Enter DALLAM and his new fainthearted friend MYGHELL WATSON THE JOINER.]

DALLAM: It Lyethe close to the seae.

MYGHELL WATSON THE JOINER: They have a great store of hens & chickins.

DALLAM: Great store of partridgis & quales.

MYGHELL WATSON THE JOINER: Great store of corne & frute.

DALLAM: Great store of hote houses.

MYGHELL WATSON THE JOINER: Greate store of Camels.

DALLAM: & som dromedaries.

MYGHELL WATSON THE JOINER: Thar be a greate number of Turks.

DALLAM: Both wylde & tame.

MYGHELL WATSON THE JOINER: & verrie relidgus.

DALLAM: The weomen goo with there facis covered & have no souls.

MYGHELL WATSON THE JOINER (seeing a snake in a tree): A great Ader. He is even Reddie to leape upon us!

[MYGHELL WATSON THE JOINER runs into a thicket of briars.]

DALLAM (turning to the audience): A number of other suche smale matters I will omitte.

[Exit DALLAM.]

Act 2, Scene 1 – Entering the Dardanelles

[Enter DALLAM.]

DALLAM: The Dardanelles. And look, the wals of Troye.

[HMS Hector is met by the Turkish navy.]

DALLAM: Ha Ha their sailes are made of cotton woll!

[The Turkish navy fires its guns.]

And so neare the wals of Troy! The eckco. The eckco.

[Exit DALLAM carrying off a marble pillar from the Trojan ruins which he takes to The British Museum.]

Scene 2

[After many months at sea, HMS Hector weighs anchor in Constantinople. Enter DALLAM who must now attend to the serious business of constructing his organ.]

DALLAM: Open our chestes.

[Enter unexpectedly the exiled KING OF FEZ whose country has been annexed by the Emperor of Morocco. The situation is complex.]

THE KING OF FEZ (looking into the first opened chest): All the glewinge worke is clene Decayed!

DALLAM (looking into another chest): My mettle pipes are brused and broken!

THE KING OF FEZ: It is not worth iid.

Scene 3

[Enter DALLAM who has much work to do restoring his organ after the months at sea. Thirty days later it is ready to present to the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire or, as he is known in 1599, THE GRAND SINYOR.]

[Enter first the ENGLISH AMBASSADOR.]

AMBASSADOR: Yow are come hether wythe a presente from our gratious Quene?

DALLAM: I am.

AMBASSADOR: The monarch is an infidell (meaning the Grand Sinyor, not the Quene).

He is a myghtie monarch of the world and you must kiss his kne or hanginge sleve.

DALLAM: ffs.

AMBASSADOR: If your organ doo not please him at the first sighte and perform not those thinges which it is Toulde him that it can Dow he will cause it to be puled downe that he may trample it under his feete.

[pause]

Hee strangled all his brotheres.

[pause]

DALLAM: OK I will come with my mate Harvie. He is an ingineer.

[Exit DALLAM & the ENGLISH AMBASSADOR. Enter DALLAM an hour or two later…]

I have sett my worke in good order. Here is the Grand Sinyor cominge upon the water.

Act 3, Scene 1

[Enter THE GRAND SINYOR in his golden caique & THE SULTANA his mother, in like manner.]

THE SULTANA: I doe not speake, being but a raisine.

[She is anyway thinking of the visit to her garden earlier that day by the English Ambassador’s dreamy secretary Paule Pinder.]

THE GRAND SINYOR: Silence!

[The organ plays. It is equipped with a clock which strikes twenty-two. Then a bell chimes sixteen times and it plays a four part song.]

It is good.

[Two clockwork trumpeters on each corner sound a tantarara after which the organ plays a five part song twice over.]

I wonder at its divers motions.

[The whole edifice is topped by a holly bush full of blackbirds & thrushes which at the end of the music sing and shake their wings.]

Will it goo at any time?

DALLAM: It will goo at any time if you tuche this pin with your finger.

[long pause]

THE GRAND SINYOR: Lett me se you playe on the orgon.

DALLAM: I have a wyfe and Childrin in Inglande. Do not cut of my heade.

THE GRAND SINYOR: I wil give you fourtie five peecis of gould and tow wyfes either of my Concubines or els tow virgins.

[He shows him his CONCUBINES through a grate in the wall.]

CONCUBINES: Wee doe not speake, being but concubines.

DALLAM: At first sighte of them I thought they had bene yonge men and verrie prettie ones in deede.

THE GRAND SINYOR: They are weomen.

DALLAM: Yes & the hare of their heads hange doone on their backs. . .

THE GRAND SINYOR: in deede.

DALLAM: . . .a juell hanging on each breast. . .

THE GRAND SINYOR: . . .& juels in their ears. . .

DALLAM: In deede.

THE GRAND SINYOR: They are wearing britches of fine coton clothe. . .

DALLAM (thinking wistfully of his own pair in London): . . .as fine as muslin & whyte as snow. . .

THE GRAND SINYOR: In deede.

DALLAM: I can disorne the skin of their thies through it. . .

(looking long on them) . . . som of their leges are naked. . .

THE GRAND SINYOR (stamping his feet): My kindnes begins to be verrie anger. Give over looking!

Dallam: I am loth to give over the sighte does please me wondrous well. . .

[page missing]

EDWARD SAID: Run for your life!

DALLAM (putting on new shoues)

[page missing]

MYGHELL WATSON THE JOINER: They have hewed me all in peecis!

[page missing]

Scene 3 – Dover

[Enter DALLAM, MY MATE HARVIE, MYGHELL WATSON THE JOINER & THE MEN OF KENT.]

DALLAM: I am verrie glad we are once againe upon Inglishe ground.

MY MATE HARVIE: Sound the trompetes!

MYGHELL WATSON THE JOINER (limping): Make our selves as merrie as we can.

THE MEN OF KENT: Post horse to Canterburrie.

MY MATE HARVIE: And thenc to Rochester.

DALLAM: And the nexte day to London (he is thinking only of his fustian, a type of cloth believed to have originated in 2nd Century AD Egypt).

THE END.

Jeff Hilson

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