Legitimate theater

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This article is about the theatrical style;. For the building where plays are staged, see Theater (structure).

The term "legitimate theater" dates back to the Licensing Act of 1737, which restricted "serious" theatre performances to the two patent theatres licensed[1] to perform "spoken drama" after the English Restoration in 1662. Other theatres were permitted to show comedy, pantomime or melodrama, but were ranked as "illegitimate theatre".[2][3]

The licensing restricted performances of classical authors and plays—Shakespeare, most prominently — to the privileged houses.[4] The logic behind the step was that the legitimate houses could be censored more easily, whilst the illegitimate houses would sell plays of a less serious, less dangerous, primarily entertaining and commercialised format. Illegitimate theatres opened in all the major English cities where they offered essentially melodramatic productions in which music had to play an important role.[5]

The 1890s created a loophole with the founding of club theatres. Opening only to their members, these houses evaded the censorship law by turning their performances from a public enterprise into a privacy.[6][7][8]

The separation finally ended in the aftermath of the scandal Edward Bond's Saved created in 1965–66. The play was first performed in London in late 1965 at the Royal Court Theatre. The house was licensed to perform serious plays. Saved, however, had not been licensed to be performed as Bond had written it. To get it performed as planned, the Royal Court Theatre had lent its stage to the English Stage Theatre Company and thus turned the performance into a private enterprise under the present laws. The evasion was challenged by the Magistrate's court in February 1966 and declared a violation of the Theatres Act 1843 on April 1, 1966. The suspension of the act in 1968 eventually ended the split between legitimate and illegitimate theatres.[9][10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Grantley, Darryll (10 October 2013). "Historical Dictionary of British Theatre: Early Period". Scarecrow Press. Retrieved 20 November 2016 – via Google Books. 
  2. ^ Harrison, Martin (1 January 1998). "The Language of Theatre". Psychology Press. Retrieved 20 November 2016 – via Google Books. 
  3. ^ Wyndham, Henry Saxe (21 November 2013). "The Annals of Covent Garden Theatre from 1732 to 1897". Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 20 November 2016 – via Google Books. 
  4. ^ Knox, Paul (5 November 2012). "Palimpsests: Biographies of 50 City Districts. International Case Studies of Urban Change". Walter de Gruyter. Retrieved 20 November 2016 – via Google Books. 
  5. ^ "School of Music, Theatre & Dance Programs". University of Michigan School of Music. 1 January 1996. Retrieved 20 November 2016 – via Google Books. 
  6. ^ Wearing, J. P. (21 November 2013). "The London Stage 1890-1899: A Calendar of Productions, Performers, and Personnel". Scarecrow Press. Retrieved 20 November 2016 – via Google Books. 
  7. ^ Davis, Derek Russell (11 September 2002). "Scenes of Madness: A Psychiatrist at the Theatre". Routledge. Retrieved 20 November 2016 – via Google Books. 
  8. ^ Law, Jonathan (16 December 2013). "The Methuen Drama Dictionary of the Theatre". A&C Black. Retrieved 20 November 2016 – via Google Books. 
  9. ^ Trussler, Simon (21 September 2000). "The Cambridge Illustrated History of British Theatre". Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 20 November 2016 – via Google Books. 
  10. ^ Sova, Dawn B. (1 January 2004). "Banned Plays: Censorship Histories of 125 Stage Dramas". Infobase Publishing. Retrieved 20 November 2016 – via Google Books.