Friday 16th September- Shakespeare and Long Frocks

In terms of learning about playwrights, Erica’s lessons will focus more on modern playwrights, but Friday afternoon sessions with Lynn will focus on playwrights between Shakespeare (died 1616) and Victorian times (Queen Victoria: 1837-1901). Because there is a 285 year gap, it will be important to know the different rulers of the country to establish which playwrights are active in which time period. For example, Shakespeare is in Elizabethan/Jacobean times, therefore, the aim of this session is to know the different rulers between Elizabeth I and Victoria.

When Shakespeare died in 1616, James I was King (1567-1625), Charles I then followed, however, he was the last monarch until 1661. This was because Charles I was executed after many disputes with Parliament, leading to his execution and Oliver Cromwell creating a commonwealth in 1649 with Richard Cromwell following. Cromwell being in charge lead to negative changes for theatre as it was banned through his time in charge. This was because he felt that instead of going to the theatre, people should be praising God or helping their family.

When the monarchy was restored in 1661, it lead to a large change in society, people were now free from the strict guidance of the Commonwealth and could do as they like. This period was also a major point for female actors as they were allowed to perform in theatres for the first time as before, female characters would all be played by male actors. Because the monarchy had been restored, it marked the beginning of ‘Restoration Comedies’ which was in a restoration era. Playwrights in this era included George Farquhar and William Congreve (1), this period of restoration comedy period lasted between 1660 and 1710, finishing after Charles II died and while James II succeeded the throne.

Following James II came two rulers: William III and Mary III who joined together, afterwards was the four Georges: George I, George II, George III and George IV. The two we focused more on was George III and George VI as George III was known as the mad King, with George IV having to stand in for him as Regent for 9 years as his predecessor was not fit enough to be King. In the period that George IV was in charge as regent and King, many of the plays reflected his personality because he had a gambling problem. Because he had a gambling problem, many of the plays written at the time had this theme. The final monarch before Victoria was William IV soon followed who had 14 children, despite this, none of them were legitimate as their mother was not a monarch, but the actress Dorthea Jordan.

 List of Monarchs between Shakespeare and 1901:

Tudors:

  • Elizabeth I (1558-1603)

Stuarts:

  • James I (1603-1625)
  • Charles I (1629-1649)

Commonwealth: (declared 1649)

  • Oliver Cromwell (1653-1658)
  • Richard Cromwell (1658-1659)

Restoration:

  • Charles II (1660-1685)
  • James II (1685-1688)
  • William III (1689-1702) and Mary III (1689-1694)
  • Anne (1702-1714)

The Hanovarians:

  • George I (1714-1727)
  • George II (1727-1760)
  • George III (1760-1820)
  • George IV (1820-1830)
  • William IV (1830-1837)
  • Victoria (1837-1901) (2)

1: http://www.london.umb.edu/index.php/entry_detail/restoration_theatre/theatre_intro/

2: http://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/KingsQueensofBritain/

3: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/behn_aphra.shtml

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