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Pepys: Theater and Music English Restoration

A short presentation for English 420 on Samuel Pepys and a section of The Diary about Theater and Music
by Jennifer Heinz on 22 January 2013

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Transcript of Pepys: Theater and Music English Restoration

Samuel Pepys:
Theater and Music These three entries span a little over a year's time From October 1667
to
January 1669 October 1667: Starts with daily activities. Then Pepys, Elizabeth and Deb
go to the theater. First they tried to go to the Duke's Playhouse, which was one of only two licensed theaters in London. It was sponsored by the king's brother James, the Duke of York. They couldn't get in because it was full due to a new play called They went to the King's House,
the other licensed theater in London. The Coffee-House They were met there by Elizabeth Knepp,
a friend who was an actress
in the King's Company. Knepp showed them around the backstage area of the theater. They met Nell Gwynn, a popular actress who later became one of the king's many mistresses. While Pepys enjoyed helping Knepp practice lines and met the cast, he was disillusioned by his time backstage. He didn't like the excessive makeup worn by Knepp and Gwynn."But Lord, to see how they were both painted would make a man mad-and did make me loathe them-" He found the language used by actors to be lewd and foul, and the costumes were shabbier than they looked in the candlelight on stage. Pepys said of his time at the theater that
his "belly was full of what I had seen in the house" February 1668 This entry also starts with a few sentences
about daily life. They went to see the tragedy "Virgin Martyr" Pepys was of the opinion that the play was okay, but... Pepys, Elizabeth and Deb then
went to the King's House They watched the tragedy
"Virgin Martyr" Pepys wasn't impressed with the play "...not that the play was worth much..." However, he did enjoy the performance of
Beck Marshall, an actress he admired greatly. "Beck" was the shortened name of
Rebecca Marshall, who, according to
A Biographical Dictionary of Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Dancers, Managers & and Other Stage Personnel in London: 1660-1800 was a popular actress alongside Gwynn and Knepp. Pepys' favorite part was
"...the wind-music when the angel comes down, which is so sweet that it ravished me..." "...and makes me resolve to practice wind-music and make my wife do the like." January 1669 Pepys and Elizabeth
go with a friend to see Shakespeare's Twelfth Night This is the third time in his diary that he pans that particular play. He also talks about seeing a girl earlier in the day, the pretty daughter of a coat-seller in Cheapside. On the way home from the theater he and his wife have an arguement about his eyes being "...too mightily employed in the playhouse; meaning, upon women..." Elizabeth was with him at the time. But when they get home the spat is over and the day ends with "..so to read and to supper, and so to bed."
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