The School for Scandal: A Comedy in Five Acts

The School for Scandal: A Comedy in Five Acts

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The School for Scandal: A Comedy in Five Acts

The School for Scandal: A Comedy in Five Acts

Read FREE!

Excerpt

"The School for Scandal," the vintage champagne of the rich and varied cellar of the English drama, artificial but sparkling, was written by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, and was the fifth play from his pen. It is undoubtedly superficial in character and full of faults from a critical standpoint, yet its brilliant wit and its vast powers of entertainment remain undimmed and undiminished nearly a century and a half after its first performance. Its plot by itself is of the slightest interest, the progress of its dramatic story involves no searching or ingenious development of character and no single member of its cast, save perhaps Sir Peter Teazle, makes any legitimate claim upon one's sympathy or affections, but by dint of sheer skill in the management of its materials, fortunate contrivance of situation and perpetual play of wit, it survives, a triumph of unscrupulous dramaturgy.

Sheridan was born in Dublin, October 30, 1751, and died in London, July 7, 1816, and the interval between these dates was filled by him with various and important achievement in literature, politics and drama. "The School for Scandal," his greatest success in the latter field, was written in his twenty- sixth year and was first produced on May 8, 1777, at Drury Lane Theatre, London, with the really great cast printed on the opposite page.

It is interesting to note that no collective performance and few individual impersonations have ever since equalled those of the company that originally created this play. Garrick, who contributed the prologue for the first performance, attended its rehearsals, and no one felt greater confidence than he in its success. Yet the first programme of the play did not bear its author's name. On the night before its first performance the necessary license was refused on the ground that the character of Moses was intended as a satire on a money-lender who recently had been a candidate for the office of City Chamberlain in opposition to Wilkes, but Sheridan easily persuaded Lord Hertford, the then Lord Chamberlain, to disregard what was probably a mere piece of theatrical politics.

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