The Court Secret

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The Court Secret is a tragicomedy written by James Shirley (1596–1666)[1].

The original text

The play as an index of the social anxieties and stresses of England at the crisis point of 1642, suggesting the conflict "between royalty and the rest," between the demands of royalist absolutism and the urges of ordinary humanity at the start of the English Civil War.

Though published in 1653, the play was never acted in its own time, though it was intended to be produced at the Blackfriars Theatre. First staged during the Restoration era only, by the King's Company at their Bridge Street theatre.

Translations and adaptations

A rehearsal of the play forms one of the three thematic threads in Deon Opperman's metadrama We All Fall Down (1988).

Performance history in South Africa

1988: Selected scenes from Shirley's play performed as part of the first production of We All Fall Down by Bold Productions and Diane Kramer in the Baxter Theatre, Cape Town. (See the entry on Opperman's play for details).


A photocopy of the typed text of We All Fall Down, with an Author's Note and additional handwritten notes by the author, found in the Stellenbosch Drama Department archives in 2022.

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