6 September 1642

The England Parliament bans public stage-plays.

The major closing was the banning of theatre at the start of the English Civil War. On September 6, 1642, by an act of Parliament, all theatres in England were closed. This meant specifically that the great playhouses and theatrical companies of London, many of which had survived since the Elizabethan age, ceased operations for good. The stated reason behind the ordinance was that attending theatre was “unseemly” during such turbulent times. The real reason, of course, was that the playhouses had become meeting places for scheming Royalists. Their Puritan rivals, who controlled Parliament, simply couldn’t have that. So theatre was banned. Within a few years most of the grand old structures, now abandoned, had decayed beyond use or were dismantled altogether–leaving no visible trace of the playhouses of Shakespeare’s day. Theatre would remain illegal until the end of the Interregnum in 1660, when the Puritans lost power and the monarchy was restored. Almost immediately, playhouses reopened and theatrical entertainments resumed. Theatre returned full force with the Restoration leading to a revival of English drama and performance that paved the way for the great age of acting and wit during the 18th century.

Coincidentally, it was also on this day that theatres reopened. On September 6, 1919, the great Equity Strike came to an end at 3 o’clock in the morning when Broadway producers finally reached an agreement with the upstart actors’ union. The strike lasted a month and closed nearly 40 major productions across the city, with revenue loses in excess of $3 million. The two sides reached a five-year deal that finally recognized Equity as the professional actors’ union. Over the next few years working conditions improved and Broadway flourished. The good times lasted only until the 1928 season when there was a noticeable dip in attendance and profits, a decline that some historians attribute to the rise of “talkies.” Of course, the next year things hit the skids big time as the stock market crash in October put Broadway in a tailspin and reset the commercial theatre’s entire economic picture for the next several decades. In many ways the professional stage never fully recovered. But Actors’ Equity remains, still setting the standard for professional theatre across the country.

13 December 1642

Abel Tasman reaches New Zealand.

Abel Janszoon Tasman 1603 – 10 October 1659) was a Dutch seafarer, explorer, and merchant, best known for his voyages of 1642 and 1644 in the service of the Dutch East India Company. He was the first known European explorer to reach the islands of Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) and New Zealand, and to sight the Fiji islands.

Portrait of Abel Tasman, his wife and daughter. Attributed to Jacob Gerritsz Cuyp, 1637.
Abel Jans Tasman was born in 1603 in Lutjegast, a small village in the province of Groningen, in the north of the Netherlands. The oldest available source mentioning him dates 27 December 1631 when, as a seafarer living in Amsterdam, the 28-year-old became engaged to marry 21-year-old Jannetje Tjaers from the Jordaan district of the city. In 1633 he sailed from Texel to Batavia in the service of the Dutch East India Company, taking the southern Brouwer Route. Tasman took part in a voyage to Seram Island; the locals had sold spices to other European nationalities than the Dutch. He had a narrow escape from death, when in an incautious landing several of his companions were killed by people of Seram. In August 1637 he was back in Amsterdam, and the following year he signed on for another ten years and took his wife with him to Batavia. On 25 March 1638 he tried to sell his property in the Jordaan, but the purchase was cancelled. In 1639 he was second-in-command of an exploration expedition in the north Pacific under Matthijs Quast. The fleet included the ships Engel and Gracht and reached Fort Zeelandia and Deshima.

In August 1642, the Council of the Indies, consisting of Antonie van Diemen, Cornelis van der Lijn, Joan Maetsuycker, Justus Schouten, Salomon Sweers, Cornelis Witsen, and Pieter Boreel in Batavia despatched Tasman and Franchoijs Visscher on a voyage of which one of the objectives was to obtain knowledge of “all the totally unknown provinces of Beach”. This expedition used two small ships, the Heemskerck and the Zeehaen.

13 December 1642

Abel Tasman arrives in New Zealand.

Abel Tasman was the first European to ‘discover’ New Zealand in 1642. His men were the first Europeans to have a confirmed encounter with M?ori. Born at Lutjegast, The Netherlands, Tasman went to sea in the service of the Dutch East India Company, receiving his first command in 1634. After patrolling the waters of the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) searching for smugglers and rebels, in 1642 he was appointed to head an expedition to the ‘still unexplored South- and East-land, which had been partly discovered by Dutch mariners. The company wanted to find out whether any exploitable southern lands existed or whether there was a sea passage across the Pacific to Chile. Tasman was given two small ships for the expedition.

The expedition departed from the company’s base at Batavia (Jakarta) in August 1642. After sailing west to Mauritius they turned south before being forced back by the cold to the 45th parallel. Continuing eastwards they sighted the mountains of a land that Tasman named Tasmania after the governor general of Batavia. The expedition was deemed a success although it was felt that Tasman could have made more effort to investigate more fully the lands he had discovered.

By 1653 Tasman retired. He remained in Batavia where he owned a substantial amount of land. He captained a small cargo ship, of which he was a part-owner. Tasman died in October 1659, survived by his second wife, Jannetje, and his daughter, Claesjen.