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Theatre companies[ edit ] Original patent companies, —[ edit ] The sumptuously decorated Dorset Gardens playhouse inwith one of the sets for Elkannah Settle 's The Empress of Morocco.
The apron stage at the front which allowed intimate audience contact is not visible in the picture the artist is standing on it. Charles II was an active and interested patron of the drama. Soon after his restoration, inhe granted exclusive play-staging rights, so-called Royal patentsto the King's Company and the Duke's Companyled by two middle-aged Caroline playwrights, Thomas Killigrew and William Davenant.
The patentees scrambled for performance rights to the previous generation's Jacobean and Caroline plays, which were the first necessity for economic survival before any new plays existed. Their next priority was to build new, splendid patent theatres in Drury Lane and Dorset Gardensrespectively.
Striving to outdo each other in magnificence, Killigrew and Davenant ended up with quite similar theatres, both designed by Christopher Wrenboth optimally provided for music and dancing, and both fitted with moveable scenery and elaborate machines for thunder, lightning, and waves.
There was no untapped reserve of occasional playgoers. Ten consecutive performances constituted a smash hit. This closed system forced playwrights to be extremely responsive to popular taste. Fashions in the drama would change almost week by week rather than season by season, as each company responded to the offerings of the other, and new plays were urgently sought.
The King's Company and the Duke's Company vied with one another for audience favour, for popular actors, and for new plays, and in this hectic climate the new genres of heroic dramapathetic dramaand Restoration comedy were born and flourished.
The production of new plays dropped off sharply in the s, affected by both the monopoly and the political situation see Decline of comedy below.
The influence and the incomes of the actors dropped, too. Rich attempted to finance a tangle of "farmed" shares and sleeping partners by slashing salaries and, dangerously, by abolishing the traditional perks of senior performers, who were stars with the clout to fight back.
This unique venture was set up with detailed rules for avoiding arbitrary managerial authority, regulating the ten actors' shares, the conditions of salaried employees, and the sickness and retirement benefits of both categories. Their dash to attract audiences briefly revitalised Restoration drama, but also set it on a fatal downhill slope to the lowest common denominator of public taste.
Rich's company notoriously offered Bartholomew Fair -type attractions — high kickers, jugglers, ropedancers, performing animals — while the co-operating actors, even as they appealed to snobbery by setting themselves up as the only legitimate theatre company in London, were not above retaliating with "prologues recited by boys of five, and epilogues declaimed by ladies on horseback".
Restoration comedy was strongly influenced by the introduction of the first professional actresses.
|The Fallacies of Egoism and Altruism, and the Fundamental Principle of Morality||Work not for a reward; but never cease to do thy work. The Bhagavad Gita2:|
Samuel Pepys refers many times in his famous diary to visiting the playhouse to watch or re-watch the performance of particular actresses, and to how much he enjoys these experiences. Daringly suggestive comedy scenes involving women became especially common, although of course Restoration actresses were, just like male actors, expected to do justice to all kinds and moods of plays.
Their role in the development of Restoration tragedy is also important, compare She-tragedy. A new speciality introduced almost as early as the actresses was the breeches rolewhich called for an actress to appear in male clothes breeches being tight-fitting knee-length pants, the standard male garment of the timefor instance to play a witty heroine who disguises herself as a boy to hide, or to engage in escapades disallowed to girls.
A quarter of the plays produced on the London stage between and contained breeches roles. Playing these cross-dressing roles, women behaved with the freedom society allowed to men, and some feminist critics, such as Jacqueline Pearson, regard them as subversive of conventional gender roles and empowering for female members of the audience.
Elizabeth Howe has objected that the male disguise, when studied in relation to playtexts, prologues, and epilogues, comes out as "little more than yet another means of displaying the actress as a sexual object" to male patrons, by showing off her body, normally hidden by a skirt, outlined by the male outfit.
Susanna Verbruggenwho had many breeches roles written especially for her in the s and 90s. Letters and memoirs of the period show that both men and women in the audience greatly relished Mountfort's swaggering, roistering impersonations of young women wearing breeches and thereby enjoying the social and sexual freedom of the male Restoration rake.
During the Restoration period, both male and female actors on the London stage became for the first time public personalities and celebrities. Documents of the period show audiences being attracted to performances by the talents of particular actors as much as by particular plays, and more than by authors who seem to have been the least important draw, no performance being advertised by author until Although the playhouses were built for large audiences—the second Drury Lane theatre from held patrons — they were of compact design, and an actor's charisma could be intimately projected from the thrust stage.
With two companies competing for their services from tostar actors were able to negotiate star deals, comprising company shares and benefit nights as well as salaries. This advantageous situation changed when the two companies were amalgamated inbut the way the actors rebelled and took command of a new company in is in itself an illustration of how far their status and power had developed since The greatest fixed stars among Restoration actors were Elizabeth Barry "Famous Mrs Barry" who "forc 'd Tears from the Eyes of her Auditory" and Thomas Bettertonboth of them active in organising the actors' revolt in and both original patent-holders in the resulting actors' cooperative.
Betterton played every great male part there was from into the 18th century. After watching Hamlet inSamuel Pepys reports in his diary that the young beginner Betterton "did the prince's part beyond imagination. Betterton's position remained unassailable through the s, both as the leading man of the United Company and as its stage manager and de facto day-to-day leader.
He remained loyal to Rich longer than many of his co-workers, but eventually it was he who headed the actors' walkout inand who became the acting manager of the new company. Comedies[ edit ] Variety and dizzying fashion changes are typical of Restoration comedy. Even though the "Restoration drama" unit taught to college students is likely to be telescoped in a way that makes the plays all sound contemporary, scholars now have a strong sense of the rapid evolution of English drama over these forty years and of its social and political causes.
The influence of theatre company competition and playhouse economics is also acknowledged. Restoration comedy peaked twice.
The genre came to spectacular maturity in the mids with an extravaganza of aristocratic comedies. Twenty lean years followed this short golden age, although the achievement of Aphra Behn in the s is to be noted.The play The Way of the World by William Congreve represents the real picture of contemporary society of his time.
It is a fine flower of Restoration literature (comedy of manners). It is a fine flower of Restoration literature (comedy of manners). "The Way of the World" as a Restoration Comedy: Restoration Comedy is a type of Restoration Drama, which is related with the manners and attitudes of the characters and what the audience laugh at them after the pursuit of sex and money.
/5(3). The comedy of manners is a genre of comedy that flourished on the English stage during the Restoration period. Plays of this type are typically set in the world of the upper class, and ridicule.
English literature - The Restoration: For some, the restoration of King Charles II in led many to a painful revaluation of the political hopes and millenarian expectations bred during two decades of civil war and republican government. For others, it excited the desire to celebrate kingship and even to turn the events of the new reign into signs of a divinely ordained scheme of things.
All the latest news, reviews, pictures and video on culture, the arts and entertainment. I. Introduction. This essay briefly describes the transition between the Baroque and Classical forms, presents some of the parallel world events, and discusses baroque and classical characteristics.