Friday, November 18, 2005

Off to the Theatre

To stay solvent the two oldest theatres, Covent Garden and Drury Lane presented all sorts of concoctions as well as regular drama. They put on farces, melodramas, operettas, trained horse and dog acts, harlequinades, rope dancers, bits of Shakespeare livened up with music, all items that could be as likely seen at a fair too. No theatrical production consisted of one work, but of various three or four hour acts. Actresses were often fashion leaders and it was notoriously difficult to get actresses to appear in historical costume.

The Music Hall
Victorian prudery inhibited many Playwrights because of the outwardly respectable ideas that were common. In contrast the Music Hall with its double entendres drew the less attractive violent fringe of theatre audiences. This Victorian institution catered chiefly for the working man and lasted to the end of World War I when it was replaced by the cinema.

Gilbert and Sullivan were hugely popular during the Victorian Period. One of their plays, Princess Ida, based on Tennyson's poem. There is an excellent site where the play and the poem is compared.

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