Milton's Masque of "Comus," Scene 1 of 3

Milton's Masque of Comus at U.C. Berkeley

John Milton's Masque, Comus, Scene 1. A masque is a mixture of song, dance and verse, designed to respond to a specific audience. Milton presented his masque to the Earl of Bridgewater's family in Ludlow Castle in 1634. We presented it to a student audience at the University of California, Berkeley in 1994. So, to duplicate the original audience applications we had to resite it in the University, and transpose all the allusions to the new location, using names like "Cal" for Ludlow, "TAs" for Spirits, "Napa Valley" for Wales, "Caffeine" for the therapeutic drug haemony, the nymph "California" for Sabrina, and so on. The new occasion became the maturing of students and their graduation, culminating in the chancellor's speech, borrowed from Milton's pamphlet "On Education." Most of the masque's detail fitted the California setting perfectly. This clip is from an informal recording of a live performance in the Renaissance-styled Maude Fife room in Wheeler Hall, the home of the UCB English Department, and the actors were all students in a Milton course taught by Hugh Richmond.



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