On Stage: A History of Theatre

By Vera Mowry Roberts | Go to book overview

11
DEVELOPMENTS IN ENGLAND AND AMERICA

We have seen how the English theatre, so vital an expression of English national life in Shakespeare's day, became powdered and perfumed after the French fashion as a result of its long exile during the Commonwealth. Yet even Restoration theatre was not a slavish imitation of its French predecessor. The tragedy of the period, it is true, was more closely akin to Continental ideals and dictums and carried the heroic French genre to a bombastic extreme. But Restoration comedy, while paying lip service to the French, was not the comedy of Molière, the great French master, but a thing apart. In English Restoration comedy, as we have seen, there is none of the satiric import of the French writer. Only its brilliance, its frivolity, its decorativeness is French; it possessed none of the implicit criticism of society which gave the necessary dimension and magnitude to the greatest of French comic dramatists. Indeed, its very amorality, its thoughtlessness, was the cause of its demise, for, as we have also seen, as early as 1698 it was severely taken to task by Jeremy Collier, whose criticism excited irate answers from Congreve, Vanbrugh, and the others. But Collier's criticism was the beginning of the end for the wits of the Restoration.

From the time of the Glorious Revolution which brought in the "bourgeois King" William, a de-emphasis upon the importance of court, nobility, and aristocracy in things theatrical was initiated;

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On Stage: A History of Theatre
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents ix
  • 1 - The Ever-Present Beginnings 1
  • 2 - Drama in Ancient Egypt 15
  • 3 - The Golden Age of Greece 21
  • 4 - Imitations and Innovations of the Romans 55
  • 5 - Theatre in the Middle Ages 78
  • 6 - Renaissance Theatre in Italy, France, and Germany 106
  • 7 - Shakespeare and the Elizabethans 134
  • 8 - Spanish Theatre in the Renaissance 172
  • 9 - The Golden Days in France 197
  • 10 - The Restoration in England 228
  • 11 - Developments in England and America 251
  • 12 - Cross-Currents in Continental Theatre 286
  • 13 - Oriental Theatre 320
  • 14 - European Romanticism 347
  • 15 - Commercial Theatre in England and America 378
  • 16 - Theatre's Great Revolution 409
  • 17 - Theatre Today 440
  • 18 - Summing Up 489
  • Glossary of Terms 506
  • Bibliography 509
  • Index 519
  • Index 527
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