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

English Restoration:
Brockett (10th ed. Pages) ch. 9, pp. 201-208, 213-15 (Playwright, finances, architecture), actors pp 219-21 (stop at 1700)


1642-1660: Commonwealth; Charles I put to death 1649
Oliver Cromwell, Puritan dictator, dies 1658
theatres closed for immorality by Puritans

1660: Restoration of Charles II (Stuart)
Having been in France for 20 years, with much of the court, English theatre and entertainment will follow the French pattern seen in ch. 8
Issues 2 patents to theatres: only legal theatres
1685: James II (suspected of Catholicism)
1688: William III and Mary II (d. 1694)
Constitutional Monarchy
1702: Anne
1714: George I (Hanover)
Prime Minister: Sir Robert Walpole
1727-60: George II
Licensing Act of 1737

Only legal theatres are 2 patent theatres (1660-1843)

In 1660, 2 men receive patents, then pass them on
1. Thomas Killigrew for the King's Company
2. William Davenant for the Duke's Company

Master of Revels (gov't post)
licenses/censors individual plays
grants licenses to play in Provinces (outside London)


Pre-Commonwealth plays (ie Shakespeare, Marlowe, Jonson)
Heroic tragedies (like Racine's)
Blank verse tragedies

John Dryden: All for Love (1677)
Thomas Otway: Venice Preserved (1682)

Comedy of manners: dominant genre at Restoration

Aphra Behn: The Rover (Pt. I 1677)
"Comedy of manners" or "comedy of intrigue"
1st woman to make a living writing

John Dryden: Marriage a la Mode(1672)
William Wycherly: The Country Wife (1675)

bourgeois morality effects playwrighting: less ribald
"Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the English Stage" by Jeremy Collier in 1698: "to teach and to please"

Colley Cibber: publishes his Apology; Careless Husband (1704)
Susanna Centlivre: The Busybody (1709)
George Farquhar: Beaux Stratagem (1707)

*Writers mostly aristocracy; subjects aristocracy; few are actors/managers (ie Centlivre, Cibber.  After 1680, paid w/ 3rd night benefit)

ACTORS (women hit the English stage... Maus article asks: why at this historical moment?)

Thomas Betterton
Elizabeth Barry
Ann Bracegirdle
Colley Cibber
Barton Booth
Ann Oldfield


lines of business:  utility->walking->secondary->leading man or lady
specialize in a type or character range in London companies
"own" a role
contract system, benefits
rehearsals short
repertoire large
provide own costumes if lead or 2ndary performer
voice most important


Season of Oct-June, closed holidays
Evening bill begins from 3-5 PM, no reserved seating
Performance lasts 3-5 hours: music and dance, other variety acts before and between acts of main play; afterpiece, music and dance at end


Theatre Royal 1663-72
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane 1674-1791, 1794-1809, 1812->now (graphic p. 249)


Lincoln's Inn Fields (tennis court) 1661-71
Theatre Royal, Dorset Garden 1671-82 (graphic p. 249)
(merge companies till 1695)
Betterton's company at Lincoln's Inn Fields 1695-1705, then Queen's Theatre, Haymarket til 1707, back to LIF
New Lincoln's Inn Fields 1714-32
patent goes to John Rich
Theatre Royal Covent Garden 1732-1808, 1809-56, 1858-> now (Royal Opera House)


"pit, box, and gallery": raked pit, benches at back of pit
large forestage with 4 doors:
actors act on forestage
raked stage floor
grooves for scenery (except chariot and pole at opera)

Scene painting, lights, costume, staging conventions like the French

Dryden's "Preface to Troilus and Cressida" in Wadsworth Anthology

Skim this and look for where Dryden criticizes Shakespeare for clues to Restoration dramatic values
    use of language: archaic, too ornamental
    not divided into five acts
    "Cressida is false, and is not punished"
    "threw out many unnecessary persons"
    "no leaping from Troy to the Grecian tents, and thence back again in the same act"
    Aristotle's as model (but only the parts he chooses)
    one single action. "This condemns all Shakespeare's historical plays"
    denies that "madness of poetry" comes from Aristotle, instead madness belongs NOT to madman
"To instruct delightfully is the general end of all poetry"
General principles of tragic plot: beginning, middle, and end
    single action, not a whole life or war
    great action with great characters (great=important)
    probable actions (not true)
    moral (like theme; a unifying factor)
General principles of tragic character: virtuous, not perfect
    manners should be apparent in action and dialogue, suitable to character in play, resemble known history, constant -- meaning no rapid conversions
    Dryden grants Shakespeare is pretty good at this.
See final paragraph on rules that "reduce nature into method." The next generations will obsessively look to "rules."

Katharine Maus's "Playhouse Flesh and Blood" excerpt in Wadsworth Anthology.

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