The Apprentice: A Farce in Two Acts

The Apprentice: A Farce in Two Acts

The Apprentice: A Farce in Two Acts

The Apprentice: A Farce in Two Acts

Excerpt

Arthur Murphy composed The Apprentice, a farce of two acts, in 1754. The characters of the first draft did not include the elder Wingate, who was added as a satire of the author's late maternal uncle, Jeffrey French, recommender of Edward Cocker Arithmetick. With a prologue by David Garrick, spoken by Murphy himself, dressed in black, the play opened at Drury Lane Theatre January 2, 1756, with immediate success. Henry Woodward acted the role of Dick, the apprentice, and Richard Yates that of Wingate, his father. The Apprentice became an established piece in the repertoires of the London and provincial theaters and held the stage until at least the middle of the nineteenth century. John Bannister, who starred as Dick in 1778 and in later years, was outstanding in imitating various other actors as he spouted the apprentice's numerous dramatic quotations.

The Apprentice presents English life of the time. The farce humorously satirizes London apprentices who neglected business in order to rehearse plays at spouting clubs, which were havens for stage-struck amateur actors. The apprentice quotes from a play at every opportunity and imitates Romeo by mounting to his brideto-be on a ladder rather than by the accessible staircase. In truth, the play in part checked the spouting craze of the day. With its steady incitement to laughter, The Apprentice is an admirable first creation.

Soon after the farce opened in January, 1756, the London bookseller Paul Vaillant paid Murphy £40 and published the first edition. Within three months appeared The Second Edition, with the prologue lengthened and appropriately altered by Henry Wood ward . . .

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