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Transcript of Restoration Theatre
Comedies written and performed in the Restoration period from 1660 to 1710.
Who was restored?
Restoration comedy was strongly influenced by the introduction of the first professional actresses. Before the closing of the theatres, all female roles had been played by boys, and the predominantly male audiences of the 1660s and 1670s were curious, censorious, and delighted at the novelty of seeing real women engage in risqué repartee and take part in physical seduction scenes.
Charles II's father, King Charles I, was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War. Although the Parliament of Scotland proclaimed Charles II King of Great Britain and Ireland in Edinburgh on 6 February 1649, the English Parliament instead passed a statute that made any such proclamation unlawful. England entered the period known as the English Commonwealth, and the country was a de facto republic, led by Oliver Cromwell.( a snob) Cromwell defeated Charles II at the Battle of Worcester on 3 September 1651, and Charles fled to mainland Europe. Cromwell became virtual dictator of England, Scotland and Ireland, and Charles spent the next nine years in exile in France, the United Provinces and the Spanish Netherlands.
In the contemporary world, we are surrounded by satire, from cartoons like Family Guy and South Park to fake news sources like The Onion to political satire like The Colbert Report and Saturday Night Live. Our mainstream entertainment thrives off of the absurdity and hypocrisy that we are plagued with on a day to day basis, and almost nothing is off limits to criticize. We live in a vastly uncensored environment, especially when it comes to entertainment; not so with Molière’s world.
A political crisis that followed the death of Cromwell in 1658 resulted in the
restoration (get it?)
of the monarchy, and Charles was invited to return to Britain. On 29 May 1660, his 30th birthday, he was received in London to public acclaim.
After 1660, all legal documents were dated as if he had succeeded his father as king in 1649. (What?! history re-written just like the end of
Romeo and Juliet!
What was so special about Moliere's time period?
Women! On stage and off:
Successful Restoration women included Charles II's mistress: actress Nell Gwyn.
The tragedienne (tragic actress) Elizabeth Barry who was famous for her ability to "move the passions" and make whole audiences cry.
Aphra Benn was a prolific dramatist of the English Restoration, one of the first English professional female literary writers.
Little is known for certain about Behn's life except for her work as an author and as a spy for the British
The bawdy topics of many of her plays led to her oeuvre being ignored or dismissed since her death..
What is it all about? Sex, Deception and Mockery
Molière described satire rather timelessly:
“Satire of this kind is aimed directly at habits, and only hits individuals by rebound.
Let us not apply to ourselves the points of general censure; let us profit by the lesson,
if possible, without assuming that we are spoken against. All the ridiculous
delineations which are drawn on the stage should be looked on by everyone without
annoyance. They are public mirrors, in which we must never pretend to see
With that in mind, please enjoy Tartuffe!
on pg 541 in the Norton.
Or watch IT under:
Films on Demand
"Tartuffe." Films On Demand. Films Media Group, 1978. Web. 17 Sept. 2014. <http://digital.films.com/PortalPlaylists.aspx?aid=1506&xtid=49082>.
FROM 1642 onward for eighteen years, the theaters of England remained nominally closed. There was of course evasion of the law; but whatever performances were offered had to be given in secrecy: in private houses, or in taverns located three or four miles out of town.
By the time the theaters were reopened in England,
In France: Corneille and Racine had perfected the neo-classic standard for tragedy, and Molière was in the full tide of his success
. Sometimes the plots of Calderón or Lope de Vega came to the English at second-hand through French versions.
Whatever the case, it was now evident that the national type of play had ceased to be written. From this time on every European nation was influence by, and exerted an influence upon, the drama of every other nation. Characters, situations, plots, themes--these things traveled from country to country, always modifying and sometimes supplanting the home product.
Restoration theatre was truly a unique era of plays and play writing.
When Charles Stuart was restored to the throne in 1660, theatre's were reopened after an eighteen-year ban
. Theatre became a way to celebrate the end of Puritan rule.
Restoration plays were lavish, often immoral by Puritan standards, and poked fun at both royalists and plebians. The lightheartedness of the plays reflected a society recovering from years of division and unrest. Although the audience enjoyed tragedies,
comedies were the hallmark of Restoration plays.
Classics such as Romeo and Juliet were rewritten and given a happy ending!
Restoration comedies became
they were not a mirror of society, but rather exaggerations of society that the audience would recognize and appreciate. The typical audience was upper class, and one had to pay to see the plays.
November 8, 1660– the first major professional playhouse in London opened after the restoration of Charles II as King of England. During the Puritan Interregnum, of course, commercial theatre was banned. But in the spring of 1660, the Puritans gave up running the country, Charles II returned to England to continue the monarchy, and theatre was restored. Given that most of the old playhouses from the early 1600s had been destroyed or ruined under Puritan rule, theatrical entrepreneur and courtier, Thomas Killigrew, decided to use an existing structure (tennis court!) to house his King’s Company.
Simply construct a raised stage at one end, take down the net, and VOILA!–you’ve got yourself an instant theatre, complete with box seating. In fact, the term for such auditoria was known as “pit, box, and gallery,” reflecting the penchant of many 17th century theatre managers for adapting tennis courts for use as temporary playhouses–a lesson Killigrew undoubtedly picked up in France where the practice was quite common.
Theatre during the early Royal Period in France took place in
hotels and Jeuv du Paumes
- or tennis courts that had been converted to stages.
French theaters were designed so that audience members could actually sit on stage with the performers.
The Royal Period is recognized by, and known for, its opulent fashions and tastes.
The theater is still subsidized by the state and the acting company has both benefits and pension plans.
In the tradition of French theatre, the actors also belong to a shareholding democracy in which they not only
have an equal vote but an equal investment in their work.
French academies influence over drama during this period. As scholars and student examined the classics
, they believed that they had found a new classical formula for producing theatre.
These rules were called the “Neoclassical Rules of Drama”. The five rules for producing acceptable drama were:
· Verisimilitude (the appearance of truth or that the play must be believable.) Unity of time place and action
· Purity of the Dramatic Form
· Five Act Form
· Decorum ( Characters are not unduly punished without a fair trial and
all characters are represented fairly as having both good and bad traits.)
· Purpose of Drama
To be realistic, (unity of time place and action)
the play must take place in a twenty-four hour period, must stay in the same location, and the action must be logical and credible. Just like the Greek and Roman plays...except for the logical part.
I mean... under the rule of
NeoClassical Theatre of course!
Stock characters modeled after comedia del arte
Who was restored?
-"A severe and unemotional form of art harkening back to the grandeur of ancient Greece and Rome."
-Started during the French Rennaissance due to an increase in universities
-used "elite" Latin playwrights and philosophers to teach
-"Neoclassicism" or "new classics"
-Artist would draw upon Classic Greek/Roman models of perfection
-Unity of time/place/action
Neoclassical era in nut shell
-Bourgeoisie -The economy was changing in France pushing the upper middle class, the Bourgeoisie, to a powerful social class
-French Catholic Church- Catholic clergy members climbed court ladders through corrupt monetary gain; Religion wars between the Catholic and Protestant churches were widespread
-French Renaissance-In France between the 1400's and early 1600's and artistic and cultral rebirth was takening place.
Why can the play's ending be considered a plot manipulation or Deus Ex Machina?
Moliere exposes hypocricy through comedy and satire - others condemn it through religion and other serious modes of expression. Which approach is more effective.
The character of Orgon seems like a fool. Does he have any positive traits?
Is there better way to end the play?
Molière wrote Tartuffe in 1664. Almost immediately following its first performance that same year at the Versailles fêtes, it was censored by King Louis XIV,
probably due to the influence of the archbishop of Paris, Paul Philippe Hardouin de Beaumont de Péréfixe, who was the King's confessor and had been his tutor. While the king had little personal interest in suppressing the play, he did so because, as stated in the official account of the fête:
"...although it was found to be extremely diverting, the king recognized so much conformity between those that a true devotion leads on the path to heaven and those that a vain ostentation of some good works does not prevent from committing some bad ones, that his extreme delicacy to religious matters can not suffer this resemblance of vice to virtue, which could be mistaken for each other; although one does not doubt the good intentions of the author, even so he forbids it in public, and deprived himself of this pleasure, in order not to allow it to be abused by others, less capable of making a just discernment of it."
As a result of Molière's play, contemporary French and English both use the word "tartuffe" to designate a hypocrite who ostensibly and exaggeratedly feigns virtue, especially religious virtue.