Lovely Cadiz

Lovely Cadiz
Cadiz - my favorite place so far in the trip to Southern Spain

Friday, November 23, 2012

Bloggo Historico (make that Hysterico): A Fractured History of the Theatre via Gaffs, Misunderstandings and Muck-Ups in roughly chronological order Part 2

Hello readers! Dottore Gianni does not want to repeat the entire introduction, but if anyone is just starting with the Bloggo Historico you might want to have a quick look at the beginning of Part 1 for clarification.

For the rest of you, Part 2 will take you to approximately where I end the first semester of the course. I think I'll divide the second semester into three parts, but stay tuned! And continue to enjoy!


The University Wits was a college that educated English students during the Renaissance. (!)

Friar Bacon and Friar Bugle
(the second friar in this title of a play by one of the university wits, Robert Greene, is actually named Bungay, but I really like Bugle!)


Shakespeare’s histories are eposotic.

History plays were loosely structured and were usually tetralogical in order, i.e. trilogies.

History plays are widely thought of as Shakespeare’s more boring plays and are not as widely preformed.

Shakespeare’s comedies were about the pursuit of the love, the wooing of the love, and then the capturing of the love.

Problem plays contained dark underbellies (!) and some comic characters.

I can’t describe Shakespeare’s problem plays -- that’s why they’re called problem plays.

One of Shakespeare’s romances is, I believe, The Turning of the Shrew.

Shakespeare’s romances are really difficult to define.  Like, in The
Winter’s Tale -- is or was she really dead?

Shakespeare was said to have written so many plays that they had to be broken up into categories: histories, comedies, and tragedies.

Henslowe was the leader of the Duke Admirable’s Men.
(this student is thinking of the Lord Admiral, not the Duke Admirable)


Many Elizabethan playhouses were located across the Themes.

An Elizabethan Public Playhouse
 Elizabethan theatres were outside the city, as the fathers of the church didn’t think it was appropriate to have theatre on moral ground.

In an Elizabethan theatre, the audience closest to the stage, the best seats, was standing only. This was not considered the best seating. (???)

The Globe was famous for Shakespeare, the Swan was famous for being burnt down.

The Glove Theatre had the misfortune of being burned down.

The Fountain Theatre, the only rectangular public theatre in Elizabethan times, was one of the last to be built.
(close – the student is referring to the Fortune)


Jon Benson wrote court masques. 
(that would be Ben Jonson – interesting inversion)

Indigo Indio Ingino Jones…
(All of these refer to the designer of court masques, Inigo Jones)

Inigo Jones design for the masque Florimene
 The court masques were highly spectaclized.  They were highly stylized, used a lot of color and controlled make-up.

Court masques were skepticals that were performed by the king.  They became more about the skeptical than the script.

The Court Masque was an award given by the king to someone who made a great commitment to the theatre.

The court masque was a form of theatre created to worship gods.


John Ford wrote the tragedy ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whorse.
(to which I can only say neigh…sorry, make that nay!)


The autos sacramentales were highly religious Spanish plays, very secular.

In Fuenteovejuna, the Futile lord of the town has been raping and murdering his servants.

Fuego Lorca…Fentevejo
(attempts at the difficult-to-spell play by Lope de Vega – interestingly, the student writing the entry just above these gets the very difficult title right, but botches the less difficult word “Feudal.”)

Lope’s most famous play is about the death of Horatio and the quest for revenge by his son Geronimo.

(much confusion below about the mosqueteros, or musketeers, who stood in the patio (similar to the yard in an Elizabethan public theatre)
The mosquito area of the Spanish auditorium was standing room only.

The mosquitoes are the lowest class at Spanish theatres.

The Spanish public theatre at Almagro
still in use today
 In Spain, the pit was called the patio and its inhabitants were mosquitoes.

The back of the patio was called the mosqueteros, where people like musketeers stood.

Mosqueteros were the cheapest tickets for standing room in the patio behind the benches.

Above the refreshment stand in a Spanish theatre unaccompanied women called cazuelas sat.

In the back of the theater was also the cazuela, which was a kitchen where women would cook food

The second floor balcony also known as a cazuela, is where unescorted women would sit. This was often thought to be a ‘stew pot”. Above this, on the third floor were the tortillas where city officials would sit.
(the first sentence here is a good answer for “cazuela, unlike those above it – the direct translation for cazuela is “stew pot” or “casserole” – but instead of tortillas the area above the cazuela was la tertulia – close, but you’ve got to like tortillas!)

The stage of the Spanish corral theatre had no trust like that of the Elizabethan public theatre.

Actresses in companies of the Spanish Golden Age were required to be married or otherwise related to a male member.
(!!! Adding “of that company” after “member” would have helped immensely here)


In 1640 the Cardinal Palais decided to build a theatre in his home.
(the cardinal was Richelieu, the Palais Cardinal was his home)

Cardinal Richelieu
(re several entries just below, the French Academy was not an acting troupe, but was a gathering of scholars hand-picked by Cardinal Richelieu to discuss literary issues. The group quickly became the arbiter of taste in French literature, including its drama. The group took Corneille’s play Le Cid to task for trying to squeeze too many events into the 24 hour structure  – one of the three “unities”  – not units  – of time, place and action  – and otherwise pushing “verisimilitude” beyond appropriate limits. I hope this helps! I hope some of you remember!)

The French Academy started as an acting troupe in France. (!) It’s power came from the cardinal who started the company.  Corneille’s Le Cid was produced by the Academy, and then dissed in the press.

The Academy’s role has proved to be very useful in controversial situations like that of the play The Cid written by Richelieu.

Corneille was attacked for his play Le Cid by the University Wits (Greene, Kyd, and Marlowe).

Corneille wrote his play within a 24 hour period and he was heavily criticized.

In Le Cid Corneille breaks the rule of the three units. 
(as noted above, read “unities” for “units”)

Most of Corneille’s plays dealt with family or social issues and proved to be rather dull.

Racine put complex characters in simple plots.  Therefore, it was neoclassical.

Racine was successful at accomplishing Neoclassical rules because he presented the epilogue at the beginning of the play to inform the audience of the current events in order to be able to use the rules of time, place, and action correctly. (eh?)

Racine loosely followed neoclassical rules with his play Dr. Faustus.


Moliere wrote for plays for The Rose, including Dr. Faustus.

 In all of Moliere’s plays there is always a older man who is quite a braggot. Everyone makes fun of him.  Moliere even has a maid fool him.  This is very controversial.  How could a stupid maid outwit a wealthy man?

Madeleine Bejart was a very permiscious individual.

Madeleine Bejart was 24 years older than Armande, and while said to be her sister was rumored to be her daughter.

Some thought that Armande [Bejart} was the daughter of Moliere and Madeleine, but I don’t know about that.

Armande Bejart
 While playing in The Imaginary Illness, a play about a hypochondriac, Molière collapsed on the stage.

The Théâtre du Marais produced such comedies and tragedies as Un Chamber A Quatre Portes, or A Room With Four Doors and Palais A Volonte, or The Place In Front of The Palace.
(the play titles are actually descriptions of two basic settings in French theatre at this time, the first for comedy, the second for tragedy – this student had clearly pulled an all-nighter!)


Theatre existed as pubic entertainment in the Restoration. (ahem!)

Revivals were plays performed again for the very first time.

Nahum Tate called King Lear “a string of pearls on a doorknob.”
(it’s Shakespeare’s Lear that Tate refers to (he wrote his own “improvement” of the play, but the phrase he used about the Shakespeare is “a string of pearls unadorned.” I suppose you could hang a string of pearls on a doorknob, however!)

In heroic tragedy, the hero and heroine are united in the end by rhyming couplets.
(LOVE this!)

Heroic tragedies were based on Greek and Roman plays.  The verse was in prose.

Aphra Behn wrote The Rover, which dealt with the sexual rampage of women.

Aphra Behn specialized in comedy of intentions.

Comedies of manners were about permissiveness, sexual connotation, and deceit.

The Comedy of Manners never invades heavy types like wits and family. (???)

Ehterige, Wycherley and Congreve were all writers of the form called comedy of errors. (!)

(Below, fops in general and Sir Fopling Flutter in particular caused some confusion)
Etherege used handsome young men and the flops.

Etherege liked to make fun of society, mostly the lower class, called foplings.

Colley Cibber as Lord Foppington
 In addition to the young galliants, Etherege also included clumsy foxes.

Etherege wrote a play called Sir Flopping Flutter.

Etherege wrote Sir Flopping Futter.

Etherege wrote Sir Fopply Flutters.

Etherege’s plays include Sir Foply of Fullerton

Sir Flopping Fopper

Sir George Etherege began the Fop’s Troupe, which really consisted of a bunch of flops players.

What Etherege also did very well was creating a subplot as well as subtitles. (???)

There is a mix of the unique and School for Wives in Wycherly’s play, The Country Wife. The main character claims that he has been castrated so he would be trusted by other men.  He tries to get with a Pinchwife, who is disguised as a boy, and succeeds in the end.

Robert Greenege wrote The Way of the World.

The Way of the Worlds

Congreve wrote Wise Words to the World.

Convert’s Way of the World is an example of comedy of manners.

The actor Thomas Betterton and particularly the last name of actress Anne Bracegirdle proved another source of confusion for some, below)

Betterton was known for his vocal powerlessness.

Famous Restoration actors include George Bennerton, and Anne Bingertude.

Another woman that had contact with Betterton was Ann Barnedirdle.

A Restoration actress was Anne Gracegirdle.

Anne Bracegirdle
Anne Bridesgale was a Restoration comic actress.

Anne Bracegone acted in the Restoration theatre.

Anne Bracegirdle became famous for the pants roles.  In some circles, it was rumored that she was secretly married to Corneille.

Armande Bridegirdle was a Restoration actress known for extreme beauty and her role as Millistrude in The Way the World Works.

Betterson tutored Anne Gardegirdle.

With her legendary status still in tacked Bracegirdle was buried in Westminster Abbey.


Nell Gwynn had an affair with the actor Charles Heart.
(Hart, but I'll bet she broke his heart!)

Nell Gwyn
 Nell Gwynn became mistress to Richard II.

Nell Gwyn had two sons by Charles II, one of whom died....

Nell Gwyn usually played the orange wench (a character who gave out oranges to the poor).

Nell Gynn was a peach wench.

Nell Gwynn’s specialty was dressing up in men’s clothing and delivering the prologues and epilogues of plays, called the “breeches roles.”

Nell Gwynne was most known for breecher roles.

Charles II became interested in Nell Gwynn during the prologue to Dryen’s Tyrabbuck in Love.”
(that would be Dryden’s Tyrannick Love)

Charles II impregnated England with actresses on stage. (???)

In many western European countries women were allowed to perform in things such as Beijing opera.

Jeremy Collier was a French playwright who wrote Le Cid.  The Academy ripped him to pieces, so he took a couple of years off and bitterly wrote “A Short View of the English Stage.” (!)


As the prosenium entered the theatre world, it drastically effelte the
approache of scenery.

The pricinium arch changed the theatre.

In the 17th century the first parmecious arch theatre was built.
(Interestingly the first proscenium arch is usually thought to be built in the Teatro Farnese, in the city of Parma – quite a word this student concocted!)

The [scene] changes came from the wing and shudder system.

Wing and groove, which was instituted by Terence, (!) is a form of scenic spectacle.

The Wind and Groove system was used at the Farnese Theatre.

(uh-oh! here comes that “wench” again):

Not to repeat, but this is a winch...
Chariot and pole: all the flats were connected to a central wench, where one man could do the work of ten.

All the poles were attached to one wench; one person could turn the wench...this was much smoother than having one man on each flat.

And THIS is a WENCH!

The European theatres [of the eighteenth century] seem to have gotten elaborate and as big as they could.  The scenic systems were working well and everyone was happy--who could get in.

A new method of scene design was sceana angela.

Scena per angelo

The Bibiena Family--seven Italians expanding three generations and invented scana par anglo.
(Scena per angolo – angled scenery – is what the students above refer to, not scenery by Angela, or by angels, or even by Angelo…and by Italians, not Anglos!)

Bibiena sketch for scena per angolo

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