Middle Temple Hall is “probably the finest example of an Elizabethan Hall in London”. Middle Temple is one of the four Inns of Court, and the Hall is “the centre of the life of the Inn today…Here are held…all the great functions and meetings of the 21st Century Middle Temple and Bar.”.
On 2nd February, 1602, a trainee barrister called John Manningham attended a performance of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night in the Hall. His diary entry forms the first record of this play being performed.
In October 2017, Lucy Nordberg interviewed Professor Jessica Winston for Blogging Shakespeare about how aspects of the Hall’s history reveal connections that exist between law and Elizabethan drama.
Professor Winston comments:
“One related note about Twelfth Night is that, like the Comedy of Errors, it’s a story about someone who arrives in a new place who’s completely unknown, someone who has to make their own identity in that place. A Comedy of Errors is perhaps more obviously relevant to the Inns of Court context, expressing the idea that “who you are” is malleable. The future could be yours, but what is going to happen to you is always up in the air and not solely dependent on your actions, but also on the people around you. You know, not everyone wants to see Viola marry Orsino at the end of Twelfth Night. But to the extent that there is this trajectory of developing towards a sort of mature self, the play contains the idea of malleability of identity and the sense of developing into something…”.