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Hey there, I'm Mike Rugnetta.
This is Crash Course Theater, and remember how we said it was gonna take a bunch of buzzkill Puritans to end this huge
flowering of art and culture and awesomeness? Well, here they are. Today
we're gonna be talking about objections to theatre in Renaissance England and how the theaters eventually closed. But good news,
they reopen two decades later with smutty comedy and expurgated Shakespeare and also women on stage
sometimes wearing pants. What a time to have been alive.
As you remember from our episodes on classical theater, Puritans didn't invent hating on theater, a phenomenon we call anti-
theatricalism. Boo, hiss.
The father of anti-theatricalism, as far as recorded history goes, is
Plato.
Yeah,
that Plato in "The Republic," Plato says that he wouldn't have any poets in his ideal Kingdom because poetry is a false
representation of reality. It just
distracts people from philosophy. Please also note though, that Plato wrote his own philosophy in
dialogue form, so...
Anyway, while the Greeks the Romans and the early Christians all had problems with theater and those who performed it to some degree
there ain't no anti-theatricalist like a Puritan anti-theatricalist. Think of the thing that you hate the most in the world and then
multiply that hate by a lot more loathing and
suspicion and also fear of the plague
You probably still don't hate the theater like the Puritans did. Let's see some examples
This first is from Elizabeth's reign. A letter sent by the Lord Mayor and aldermen of London in
1597, which called for all plays to be cancelled. Plays, he wrote, "are a special cause of corrupting the youth,
containing nothing
but unchaste matters, lascivious devices, shifts of cozenage and other lewd and ungodly practices."
He also went on to say that they make people lazy and criminal and give them black death,
which, I mean, I've worked with some flat footed lighting technicians
but no one with the pestilence. Other Puritans came along and started writing some long and unhinged pamphlets.
They said that plays taught people how to sin, that they made men effeminate-
remember all of those boy actors dressed as spunky heroines in pants? Yeah, the Puritans did not love that- and surprise, surprise,
that plays went against God. And, here's something for the irony fans;
remember how theater was used to jazz up church services not so long before this?
Well, some Protestant English critics objected to Renaissance theater because it emerged from liturgical drama
and that made it too
Popish. Not religious enough, or too religious.
It's almost like the nature of theater isn't the problem here. The greatest example of an anti-theatrical text is probably William Prynne's
Histriomastix,
a thousand pages of invective
against the theater published in 1632. How bananas is this book?
Well, here is an abridged version
of the title:
"Histriomastix: the players scourge, or actor's tragedy divided into two parts, wherein it is largely
evidenced, by diverse arguments that popular stage plays are sinful heathenish lewd ungodly spectacles and most pernicious
corruptions and that the profession of play poets of stage players together with the pending acting and frequenting of stage plays are unlawful infamous and
misbeseeming Christians." Abridged, people.
This is the abridged title. Yeesh. Somewhere in those thousand pages Prynne mentioned that women actors are
notorious whores and maybe you're thinking:
what women actors? Prynne claimed he was talking about a troupe of French actresses who had visited London in
1629 and had been booed and pippin-pelted off the stage. That means that they got apples tossed at them.
But hey also, remember how court masks featured noble women including the queen, Henrietta Maria?
The nobles remembered, and when the court read Prynne's book he was put on trial for
seditious libel, because you kinda can't imply that the queen is a whore and not maybe get your own thousand page book thrown at you.
But okay, Prynne's work wasn't the final dramatic nail in the theaters coffin;
what did it? Well, it starts with Charles I. King of England,
Scotland, and Ireland and hubby to Henrietta Maria. Charles I had worse problems than men seditiously libeling his wife.
His main problem was money. Wars did not come cheap and
he fought lots of them and I'm sure all of those Inigo Jones sets and nymph costumes didn't help things either.
He and Parliament, which was largely puritanical, used to fight all the time about his military spending. So, he kept
dissolving Parliament. In 1629,
he disbanded it all together and decided to go it alone, levying some unpopular taxes to keep everything afloat.
And that went okay, until 1640, when he needed money to fight against the Scots.
He reconvened Parliament and then dissolved it again, and then reconvened it again and the House of Commons
basically passed a bill telling the King that he was a royal pain in the neck. Then Ireland
rebelled- here is where we get back to theatre. Civil War now fully underway, the puritanical
Parliament used the conflict as an excuse to ban theater, mostly on religious grounds. In 1642,
they passed an edict which read, "Public sports do not well agree with public calamities, nor
public stage plays with the seasons of
humiliation, this being an exercise of sad and pious
solemnity, and the other being spectacles of pleasure too commonly expressing lascivious mirth and levity.
It is therefore thought fit and ordained by the Lords and Commons in this Parliament assembled
that while these sad causes and set times of humiliation do continue
public stage plays shall cease and be forborn." Basically,
how can you theatre at a time like this?
In 1647 parliament published another edict threatening punishment for anyone who put on a play. The next year they passed a law saying
actors should be apprehended as criminals and theatres should be demolished. An actor caught acting once was whipped, twice,
treated as an incorrigible rogue, which actually sounds fine, but
probably it was awful. Anyone found attending a play would be fined five shillings
which was a mint then, and in 1649, a few months after they beheaded Charles I, the Puritan
Parliamentarians appointed a provost marshal who was tasked with imprisoning all ballad singers and shutting down stage plays. No
fun allowed.
So, did the theatre disappear entirely?
Sort of. Public performances were semi-secretly held until the king was beheaded
but they really dried up after that. Late in the 1650's, the playwright William Davenant
basically invented English language opera because musical performances hadn't been
specifically forbidden. He was like, look, everybody's singing all the time!
This definitely isn't a play. No, no, not at all.
Otherwise, performances were small and clandestine, held in private homes, tennis courts, and inns, and this would be the case for
about 12 years. In 1658, Oliver Cromwell
the leader of the Commonwealth, died. His son lost the confidence of the military, the Royalists started rising up again, and in
1660, Charles II was restored to the throne.
Almost immediately, he started licensing theater companies and helping theaters reopen. In London,
there were two main companies. One, led by William Davenant, the opera guy, and the other led by Thomas Killigrew.
Descendants of these companies basically had a lock on spoken drama in London until
1843. At first, the restoration theater relied on old plays. Tragic comedies were popular, especially those by Beaumont and Fletcher.
Shakespeare was almost immediately revived, but with a difference. Remember those tragedies where everyone died and it was very moving?
Yorick does. He knows them well.
Restoration audiences were not
into it. After that whole civil war thing
people wanted happy endings, not a stage full of corpses.
So, playwrights rewrote Shakespeare. Suddenly, Juliet gets to wake up before Romeo kills himself.
And Lear survives.
Also Edgar and Cordelia get married and
Miranda gets a sister. Companies also started using all those fancy scenic design elements that Inigo Jones had introduced, but the biggest difference was women.
Women on stage, Charles II approved it. Why? It's unclear. Though,
actresses were common in France, where he had been hiding out. Women not only took on female roles,
they also took on male roles or breeches parts.
Maybe they did it for the actorly challenge,
or maybe they did it because theater managers realized that male audience members went crazy when women wore pants and showed their ankles.
Ooh, la la. And women not only appeared on stage,
there were also several important female restoration playwrights, including Aphra Behn and
Susanna Centlivre. The restoration also brought some new styles of playwriting to England. Most were heroic tragedies and
swashbuckling romances borrowed from Spain and France,
but it did birth one homegrown genre: the restoration comedy. Restoration comedies are
smutty, even by today's standards. They're witty, sexy, outrageous plays about upper-class people looking for love.
Lots of that love is
adulterous. Like most comedies, they rely on familiar types and while they don't have that
Shakespearean depth of characterization,
they are funny. A bunch of those hoots and hollers derived from voicing a cynical distrust of
conventional morality, because after that whole beheading the king and living under Puritan rule,
conventional morality just doesn't look so great. In fact, it looks downright oppressive.
Marriage isn't the happy ending here. No social contract is treated as objectively rad.
These plays are skeptical of airy concepts like love honor and fidelity;
they're much more about lust, and envy, and covetousness as motivating forces.
For example, William Wycherley's 1675 play "The Country Wife" is sort of based on Molière,
but luder. Take us to the country, Thought Bubble.
Harry Horner, check out that name, decides that the best way to sleep with all the women in town is to spread the rumor that
he's impotent, so that husbands will leave their wives alone with him.
It works! That Horner. Meanwhile, Pinchwife has just gotten married to Margery, and is so worried about
adultery that he won't let her out of the house, won't let her have any friends, and keeps her in the country. Get it?
She's the country wife. Finally, he agrees to take her for a walk in town,
but only after disguising her as a boy.
Horner meets the disguised Margery, clocks that she's a woman, and runs off with her. When she and Pinchwife are reunited,
he tells her that she can never see Horner again, and makes her write a letter saying how disgusting she finds him.
But, instead of a weird chaste affidavit, she writes a love letter. Horner likes her too, but still finds time to
horn Lady Fidget in a scene that uses a lot of ceramics metaphors. It's hilarious.
He also sleeps with all of her friends, and maybe you'd expect to playwright to try to protect Margery from sex-addict Horner,
but Wycherley would rather see his characters happily bonking than unhappily chaste.
Margery dresses up as Pinchwife's sister and goes to Horner's room. Pinchwife finds them,
but owing to some fast-talking, Horner and Margery get off scot-free and Pinchwife seems to believe the tales of Horner's impotence,
leaving him to carouse another day. So it all ends smutilly ever after. Take that, Puritans.
Thanks thought-bubble. That was
permissive. So, we can see that this is a lot
rowdier than the Shakespeare style of comedy and even a bit wittier in the text, too.
Restoration comedy encouraged anti theatricalists, too- Jeremy Collier's
1698 pamphlet "A Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the English Stage" is
300 pages.
Short by Prynne's standards. Collier writes, "Nothing has gone farther in debauching the age than the stage poets, and
play-house," and his ideas were so influential that he encouraged some playwrights to reform.
He also caught the attention of James II, who decreed that plays should maybe be less money.
Boring.
Now, but okay, we're gonna get less money, too- as we head to Spain and France to explore Golden Age drama on the continent.
But until then,
curtain. Crash Course Theater is produced in association with PBS Digital Studios.
Head over to their channel to check out some of their shows like the Art Assignment and Eons and It's Okay to Be Smart.
Crash course Theater is filmed in the Chad and Stacey Emigholz Studio in Indianapolis, Indiana and is produced with the help of all of these
very nice people. Our animation team
is Thought Café. Crash Course exists thanks to the generous support of our patrons and
Patreon. Patreon is a voluntary
subscription service where you can support the content you love through a monthly donation and help keep Crash Course free for everyone, forever.
Thanks for watching.
コツ:単語をクリックしてすぐ意味を調べられます!

読み込み中…

Where Did Theater Go? Crash Course Theater #18

78 タグ追加 保存
Pei-Yi Lin 2019 年 5 月 5 日 に公開
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