The new beginning with a royal licensing
In 1660, after his entry into London, King Charles II awarded two loyal playwrights and actors, Thomas Killigrew (* 1612, † 1683) and W. Davenant, each with a theater license. Killigrew initially played on “Gibbon’s Tennis Court”, then built the “Theater Royal” on a riding arena on Bridges Street, the subsequent buildings of which became popular as the “Theater Royal Drury Lane”. Davenant converted “Lisle’s Tennis Court” on the grounds of Lincoln’s Inn Fields into a theater with a convertible stage. The French theatrical style that was carried along from royal exile and now dominant marked the beginning of the forced public theater. Another innovation was the appearances of actresses (Elizabeth Barry, * 1658, † 1713; Anne Bracegirdle, * 1671, † 1748; Nell Gwyn, * 1642, † 1687), who ended a long practice of boy actors for female roles. In the Comedy of Manners, which was fashionable up to the turn of the centuryThe aristocracy and the wealthy bourgeoisie were able to smile at the satirically exaggerated excesses of their money-obsessed society in a stage setting of elegance, eroticism and occasional class superiority disturbed by cheeky servants. In addition, the violent and pathetic heroic dramas by J. Dryden and T. Otway as well as “improved” versions of the dramas by Shakespeare, who was sometimes disreputed as a “barbarian”, were shown.
Additional patents, which led to the establishment of the Heymarket Theater in 1705, and the trade in partial patents were supposed to be stopped by the “Theater Bill” (1736). Apart from organizational innovations and the content control by a censor, the discussion about the function of the theater with regard to role model and education became decisive. Moral weeklies like “The Tatler” and “The Spectator” negotiated a theater of virtue and naturalness that should enable identification and emotional reactions. G. Lillo corresponded with the drama “The London merchant” (German “The Merchant of London”), which in 1731 only brought bourgeois characters onto the stage of the Theater Royal Drury Lane, the new bourgeois self-confidence. To the actor D. Garrick succeeded in turning away from the pathos of declamation and extreme gesticulation. He introduced more extensive theater rehearsals and formed the “Drury Lane Ensemble”.
According to health-beauty-guides.com, the common performance practice of a four-hour theater with variety, Singing and dancing performances opposite. In addition to the large theaters in Covent Garden and Drury Lane, which can hold over 3,000 spectators, numerous new stages for a wide variety of theatrical forms were built in the 19th century, especially after the Theater Regulation Act and the abolition of the licensing system when the theater was founded in 1843 (In 1899 there were 39 music halls in the West End of London and 38 theaters in the suburbs and 23). They offered technically perfect illusion theater for the urban mass audience, which attracted a wide audience with elaborate stage effects such as staged ship disasters or rail accidents. The high production and operating costs could only be brought in by keeping the productions on the program for a long time and continuously (“long run system”). In addition to the creation of fantastic stage worlds, there were tendencies towards historically precise stagings, among other things. through Charles Kean (* 1811, † 1868) and realistic description of the milieu.
Mainstream and alternatives in the 20th century
The commercial theater industry continued to dominate London and from there entertainment in the provinces; Slumps during the world wars and the increased competition from radio and cinema were manageable. For the musical productionsas well as the main tourist attraction in the last third of the 20th century, global style-setting singing and dance artists as well as highly developed decorations and lighting techniques were used. Dozens of theaters were acquired and operated by Cameron Macintosh (* 1946), and finally sold to A. Lloyd Webber in 2000.
Comparatively modest beginnings of the artistically demanding directorial theater followed with the Independent Theater (1891), the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (1904) and the Old Vic Theater (1912). The theater increasingly began to play a role as a medium of political and ethnic identity and its presentation.
With tax exemptions and the founding of the Arts Council of Great Britain (1946), the financing of non-profit theater projects was guaranteed. Joan Littlewood enriched the English theater scene with an international repertoire of plays and dramas. High and progressive artistic standards were set from 1956 by the English Stage Company, which George Devine (* 1910, † 1965) directed at the Royal Court Theater, and by P. Hall with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Her artistic work and the National Theater, which was founded in 1963 in the Old Vic and has been present on the Southbank since 1976, decisively shaped drama productions and theatrical styles of the subsequent period (New English Drama). Current non-commercial theater has established itself in new homes and some traditional West End theaters, the Edinburgh Festival (founded 1947), the London International Festival of Theater (LIFT; founded 1981) and numerous alternative venues. The theatrical offer extends from authentic attempts at play in the reconstructed and newly opened “Shakespeare’s Globe Theater” (reconstructed and opened in 1997) to the conventional to provocative interpretation of historical and contemporary dramatic texts to – among others. in the work of the group “Forced Entertainment” founded in 1984 – on intermedia experiment and performance.