George Powell (playwright)

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George Powell (1668? – 1714) was a 17th-century London actor and playwright who was a member of the United Company.

He wrote a misogynistic play called The Imposture Defeated; or, A Trick to Cheat the Devil, first performed in September 1697. This play portrayed the proper treatment of an adulteress as brutal confinement and isolation from others to punish her and prevent the spread of her attitude. It is thought that this play was rushed out as a result of Mr. Powell having seen an as yet unpublished copy of another playwright's manuscript, Mary Pix's The Deceiver Deceived. Powell's version was cited by theatre critic Charles Gildon as the inferior of the two.

George Powell also wrote plays named Alphonso: King of Naples first performed in December 1690, A Very Good Wife first performed in April 1693, Bonduca: or, The British Heroine in 1695, and The Treacherous Brothers first performed in January 1690 under his own name. Each of these plays premièred at London's Theatre Royale. In collaboration with John Verbruggen, he wrote A new opera called Brutus of Alba: or, Augusta's Triumph, first performed in 1696 at Dorset-Garden, London. All of the works he wrote or co-wrote were tragedies.

When the United Company broke in two in 1694, with the walking out of the senior actors including Thomas Betterton, Elizabeth Barry, and Anne Bracegirdle, it is unlikely that Powell was invited to join them. While he was skilled and experienced, he was also notorious for his bad temper and alcoholism, and the rebel actors probably left him behind with some relief (Milhous). He demonstrated his drinking problem at the première of Vanbrugh's Relapse in November 1696, being according to Vanbrugh so drunk as the seducer Worthy that he molested Amanda, the object of his attentions, in a much more physical way than the script provided for. See The Relapse.


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