By Susan J. Owen
This 'Companion' illustrates the energy and variety of dramatic paintings 1660 to 1710. Twenty-five essays via prime students within the box compile the simplest contemporary insights into the total diversity of dramatic perform and innovation on the time.
• Introduces readers to the new growth in scholarship that has revitalised recovery drama
• Explores old and cultural contexts, genres of recovery drama, and key dramatists, between them Dryden and Behn
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Extra info for A Companion to Restoration Drama
Rather, criticism typically appears in shorter - and more occasional - print formats, such as play prefaces and dedicatory epistles, prologues, epilogues, pamphlets, etc. Dryden wrote more prefatory criticism than any of his contemporaries, and, in doing so, set one standard for this genre of criticism. Dryden's prefatory rhetoric is characterized by its authoritative voice and emphasis on dictating artistic choices and anticipating objections. For example, in his first critical essay - 'To Roger, Earl of Orrery' prefixed to The Rival Ladies (1664), his first printed play - Dryden begins 22 Paul D.
Orrell 1980: 6) Henri Misson in his Memoirs in 1698 was struck by the lively behaviour of the pit patrons: 'Men of Quality, particularly the younger Sort, some Ladies of Reputation and Vertue, and abundance of Damsels that hunt for Prey, sit all together in this Place, Higgledy-piggledy, chatter, toy, play, hear, hear not' (1719, trans. Ozell, 219). Back in the 1660s Pepys had regularly reported similar audience conduct. At one performance, of Beaumont and Fletcher's The Maid's Tragedy at the Bridges Street theatre on 18 February 1667, the diarist became so enthralled with Sir Charles Sedley's bantering with a masked lady that Pepys 'lost the pleasure of the play wholly, to which now and then Sir Ch.
Accordingly, A Short View of Tragedy should be read as an appeal for increased government support and regulation of the English stage. Given this context, Rymer's critique of Othello appears to illustrate the ill effects of an unsupervised and self-serving playwright. And, with the chorus, Rymer offers an aesthetically pleasing means of regulating both the production and reception of drama. As acerbic and impracticable as A Short View of Tragedy may be, it is an important, early exploration of two concerns that would quickly dominate English dramatic criticism: the regulation of the English stage, and the regulatory function of criticism.