Mr. Cibber of Drury Lane

Mr. Cibber of Drury Lane

Mr. Cibber of Drury Lane

Mr. Cibber of Drury Lane

Excerpt

THE, LORD CHAMBERLAIN'S order of silence fulfilled its purpose--it destroyed the power of Rich--but it left the theatre in a sad state of confusion. For again it separated the actors of the town into two hostile groups--those who had remained faithful to Rich and those who had gone over to Swiney. Rich's actors gave performances at Drury Lane under the direction of William Collier, one of the minor patentees; but after producing one successful play, The Fair Quaker of Deal , they quarreled with Collier, revolted, and compelled him to solicit the intervention of the Lord Chamberlain. The actors at the Haymarket had similar experiences. They, too, had trouble with their employer, and at the end of the season they, too, were involved in an appeal to the Lord Chamberlain's office. In order to understand these two appeals and the settlement which was ultimately effected, we must briefly consider the fortunes of the two companies during this singularly perplexing season.

The articles of agreement between Swiney and the new actor- managers--Wilks, Cibber, and Doggett--were signed on March 10, 1709, and during the spring and summer of the same year the new Haymarket company was organized. In view of the order of silence, Swiney felt that he need fear no competition from Rich, and accordingly he made elaborate preparations for the season's campaign. He hired actors and singers at absurdly high salaries, and made plans to take over both the theatres of the town, for he felt that he could reserve the Haymarket for opera and use Drury Lane for plays. On August 11, therefore, he put the following notice in the Daily Courant :

All persons who have any concern or property in the shares of rent of Drury Lane Playhouse are desired to meet Mr Swiney at Nando's Coffee- house within Temple Bar (upon Tuesday next the 16th instant, at 3 . . .

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