Theatre 203: F/History of Theatre Since the Seventeenth Century

18th Century England:
Brockett ch. 9, pp. 217-232, ch. 10 pp. 242-46 (Italian design) 248-257 (French drama, acting troupes)

GOVERNMENT regulation of theatre:

Licensing Act of 1737 (until 1968)

Granting of theatre "licenses" (ie to Betterton in 1695 or Drury Lane in 1710), opens debate on patent system.
Satires of political figures on the stage also stir up controversy; (Prime Minister) Walpole is angry.

1. Lord Chamberlain licenses all plays "for gain, hire or reward"
2. Theatre must be in Westminster, only Drury Lane and Covent Garden located there

Responses: closure of illegitimate theatres, then open but advertised as other events
1752: law requiring licensing of all entertainment w/in 20 miles of London
1760's: Parliament authorizes "Royal Theatres" in other English cities
1766 Sam Foote: license to run Haymarket theatre for summer season, 1766-1843


morality: "it's all for the best", people all essentially good
environment determines character
theatre has a social goal: awaken audience's emotions to deliver moral message


"REGULAR" DRAMA still follows neoclassical rules, but some challenges.

George Lillo's The London Merchant 1731: argues tragedy can apply to middle class
Comedies lose all licentiousness (or lewd behavior only for servants), then all laughter
wits and fops replaced by middle class, sentimental heros
Sir Richard Steele's The Conscious Lovers (1722) intended to be "a pleasure too exquisite for laughter"
Sentimental comedies, after French comedie larmoyante (tearful) by 1730's
Older comedies and tragedies adapted to contemporary taste for "sentiment"

Laughing comedy: revived by
Oliver GOLDSMITH (She Stoops to Conquer) and
Richard Brinsley SHERIDAN (The Rivals) in 1760's -70's.
These plays are still performed today.

huge vogue among aristocracy after Handel comes to London: 1710-41
Royal Academy of Music founded 1719
each song a single sentiment: no dramatic conflict within a musical number
classical subjects
spoken recitatives
castrati play young women, mezzo sopranos play boys -> gender confusion
"LESSER" OR "MINOR" FORMS: some originate as afterpieces, some performed outside patent theatres.

Pantomime (1710's): created by John Weaver and John Rich (Lun) at Covent Garden
still performed at Christmas
stars Harlequin, taken from Italian commedia, slapstick becomes magic wand

Ballad opera: The Beggar's Opera by John Gay, 1728,

produced by Rich at Covent Garden
parody of high opera conventions
popular tunes with new lyrics
governmental satire
Burlesque: popular satires of art and government
Henry Fielding author

comic opera (based on French)

also music, dance, animal acts, acrobatics, magic performed before plays, between acts, and as afterpieces

PLAYWRIGHT: little work; hard to earn a living. Paid by 3rd night benefits.
1709: writer may copyright a play for 14 years.

MANAGEMENT: from sharing companies to investors/financial managers, but few successful.

Beginning of actor/manager tradition: rich/famous actor also serves as manager.

John Rich at Covent Garden,
triumvirate or Garrick at Drury Lane.
box, pit, and gallery remains auditorium style
capacity increases markedly: c. 600 -> 3600;
middle class on stage and in auditorium
forestage decreases, width and depth of proscenium increases
Garrick banishes audience from stage and lowers house light

SCENERY in England
As neoclassical unity relaxes, theatres need more stock locations
Stock scenery owned by theatre: temple, tomb, city wall, palace exterior and interior, street, salon, prison, garden, rural settings

Innovations begin on continent, mostly shifts of subject and painting style

Philippe Jacques de Loutherbourg (French) came to England 1771

major influence on set design, bring continental ideas
design all visual elements of production
historical accuracy
miniatures and groundrows upstage
design new sets rather than use stock
light fabric to color light
Candles beging to be replaced by oil lamps
Argand, or patent, oil lamp finishes the trend after 1785
Early attempts to control intensity and color of light
stock for minor characters and conventional types (ie habit a la romaine)
more characters develop conventional dress (ie Hamlet in black Elizabethan garb)
few attempts at historical accuracy late in 18th century accelerated by 1st published historical costume books
at whim of manager and individual actors
Charles Macklin, pioneer with Shylock in 1741, but not popular
David Garrick (1717-79): look to nature, longer rehearsals
new interpretations of characters
more conversational line delivery
idealized, conventional movement to fit emotion
differentiate characters within a type
historical accuracy
as actor/manager, takes steps toward contemporary directing

SUMMARY OF CH 10: sections on Italian design and architecture, tie to opera

ITALY: (mostly under Hapsburg/Austrian/Holy Roman Empire control; some dukedoms remain independent
        HRE becomes dominant political and economic force in Europe, eclipsing France)

sets European standards in Opera, comic opera, scene design
Public opera houses built, 1st in Venice
decline of commedia dell'arte, turn to comic playwrights (Goldoni and Gozzi)
Family dynasties: Burnacini, Bibiena, Juvarra, Maura, Quaglio design, paint, and serve as architects
Most work in opera: state or artistocracy supported work throughout HRE, France, into Poland and Russia

BIBIENAS: (Ferdinando, Giuseppe) SCENA PER ANGOLO
2 or more vanishing points, asymmetry
freestanding flats in upstage area
everything placed parallel to proscenium scaled larger than proscenium
detail painted though some texture introduced

Fiippo JUVARRA: unit sets with changing backdrops
curvilinear designs
fantastic/exotic locales

Late 18th century:

Historical settings
rediscovery of Herculaneum, Pompeii
ruined classical structures after Piranesi's engravings painting for mood, lighting effects
Spread of new Italian ideas:
Jean-Nicolas Servandoni popularizes scena per angolo at Paris Opera after 1728
DeLoutherberg will introduce in England
Public Opera Houses:
opera extremely popular with aristocracy, 18th c. spreads to middle classes
began late 17th century, Venice
professional opera companies appear
spread through Italy, public theatres built
Comic Opera:
1st was Pergolesi's The Servant the Mistress (1733)
Previously, comic operas were not composed but music assembled from other sources
By 1750, plots less farce or satirical, more sentimental comedy Opera houses begin to hold 2 companies: 1 for comic and 1 for grand opera

"Classical" Music last 1/4 18th century:
    Mozart: wrote grand and comic operas


    Remains most powerful cultural influence in Europe, even as country becomes poorer
    Revolution of 1789 briefly stops French theatre traditions, Napoleon restores most theatres and styles to pre-revolutionary Neoclassical norms

    Neoclassical ideals reign, but much loosening of Baroque restrictions

Voltaire (Francois-Marie Arouet, 1694-1778)
    Dominates French literature and thought
    53 plays from 1718-78; tragedies, dramas, histories (starts Gothic vogue), comedies, satires
    greater plot complexity, more locations, intermediate genres
    Candide (novella) "all's for the best in the best of all possible worlds" satirizes banality of
Enlightenment views of human nature

Sentimental comedies rise 1720's, most popular form 1730's-50's:
    *Marivaux -- domestic dramas, plot and characters with inner conflicts make his comedies popular today
    *LaChausee -- "comédie larmoyante" or tearful comedies about good people in bad situations; pathos dominates; external force usually resolves conflicts

Denis Diderot
    *With other "philosophes" publishes Encyclopedie in 28 vols. 1748-72 on all areas of French life, culture, government, philosophy

    *playwright too
    *Essays on theatre advocate intermediate genres for tragedy and comedy: the drama and sentimental comedy; verisimilitude ( still firmly neoclassical), all prose, and 4th wall acting. He admired Garrick and wrote an essay on his acting.
    *Paradox of the actor: (essay, selection from it is on ereserve) written as a dialogue between two theatregoers; examines inspiration vs. perspiration as values in acting; or should an actor "be" a part or "study to be like" a part. Comes down on side of the studied actor, though he sees value and appeal of inspired performers.

Beaumarchais (Pierre-Augustin Caron, 1732-1799) - dominates end of century writers
    Captures France on the brink of revolution 
    Comedies (Barber of Seville 1775, Marriage of Figaro 1783) and dramas (Eugenie 1767)
    laughing comedies; he revives much like Goldsmith and Sheridan in England
    1780's decidedly political satires
    Founder of Bureau Dramatique 1777; first playwrights' union
        ancestor of present day Society of Authors
        First royalty payments

COMEDIE FRANCAISE monopoly on all spoken drama in neoclassical style; tragedies and comedies
   sharing company (societaires), but decisions ratified by Gentlemen of Chamber
    Repertory, but few new plays til ordered to late in 18th century
    Royal Dramatic School, today's Conservatoire forerunner, founded 1786; out of CF, first major school for training actors
OPERA (Royal Academy of Music an Dance) monopoly on all opera, dance, spectacle; long run system
    both companies founded in 17th century by Louis XIV
    both enjoy royal subsidy, protections
    sold licenses to minor companies when needed money

Challenge first from fairs, then successful fair companies set up on Boulevard du Temple by 1760's
    Performed comic operas, commedia style, short satires, etc.
    Comic opera turns from satire to domestic comedy topics following The Servant the Master 1752; begins huge vogue
    dramas and sentimental comedies find their home here

COMEDIE ITALIENNE (Commedia Dell'arte) company returns as 2nd house in 1716 (Riccoboni);
    *Commedia is already in decline
    *starts adding contemporary French comedies, satires, musical presentations
    *1762 monopoly granted on comic opera 
    *Also sharing company under Gentlemen of Chamber; loses all Italian connection by late 18th century
After the revolution, the National Assembly abolished monopolies; Napoleon reinstated them
    Natl Assembly also ended state and church discrimination against actors (ie not allowed to settle in city of Paris w/o royal permission, denied church's sacraments)

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