Strolling Players & Drama in the Provinces, 1660-1765

Strolling Players & Drama in the Provinces, 1660-1765

Strolling Players & Drama in the Provinces, 1660-1765

Strolling Players & Drama in the Provinces, 1660-1765

Excerpt

It may be asked why one should isolate from the theatrical history of the provinces this particular century, ignoring those which went before and came after.

Two reasons cart be cited in defence of this procedure. The first is the practical one that the period 1660-1760 has been comparatively neglected, whilst the earlier and later periods have received more than their fair share of the attention of scholars and dramatic historians. Sir E. K. Chambers's work on the Medieval and Elizabethan stage, Mr Tucker Murray's book on English Dramatic Companies, and a host of articles by local antiquarians, and chapters in local histories, have adequately covered the ground up to Cromwell's time. And, since a mass of material is readily available for the second half of the eighteenth century and onwards, this period, too, has not been ill served in theatrical chronicles of individual towns. It is true that no attempt has been made to write the theatrical history of a town like Canterbury, but, in the case of other centres, those interested can fairly easily lay hands on information which will provide them with an account of the beginning and end of the story. The point is that nearly all these histories have but passing references, or at most a scant and inadequate chapter to give, to the Restoration and first half of the eighteenth century. It is this gap that I have endeavoured, in some measure, to fill.

There is, however, a more weighty reason than mere practicability. It is that these hundred years are a unique and complete era in the long history of drama in the provinces. One is at once struck when studying the theatrical history of provincial towns, by the fact that everywhere during the decade 1755-65 new and imposing theatres were being built. Inn yards or rooms, booths and town halls were gradually . . .

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