Philobiblon: Annoyed by the audience?

Monday, October 03, 2005

Annoyed by the audience?

From The Young Gallant's Academy (1674), by Samuel Vincent, advising on behaviour at the theatre:

Let our Gallant (having paid his half Crown, and given the Doorkeeper his Ticket) presently advance himself into the middle of the Pit, where, having made his Honor to the rest of the Company, but especially to the Vizard-Marks [women of ill-repute], let him pull out his Comb, and manage his flaxen Wig with all the Grace he can. Having so done, the next step is to give a hum to the China-Orange-Wench, and give her her own rate for her Oranges (for 'tis below a Gentleman to stand haggling like a Citizen's Wife) and then to present the fairest to the next Vizard-Mask.
... [After the play has begun] It shall Crown you with rich Commendations, to laugh aloud in the midst of the most serious and sudden Scene of the terriblest Tragedy, and to let the Clapper (your Tongue) be tossed so high that all the House may ring of it: for by talking and laughing you heap Pelion upon Ossa, Glory upon Glory: as fiirst, all the eyes in the Galleries will leave walking after the Players, and only follow you: the most Pedantick Person in the House snatches up your name: and when he meets you in the Street, he'l say, He is such a Gallant: and the people admire you."(p. 43-44)

So next time the crisp packets in the cinema or the mobile phones in the theatre are driving you mad, remember that it used to be worse.

(Quoted in All the King's Ladies: Actresses of the Restoration, by John Harold Wilson, The University of Chicago Press, 1958. A quite solid introductory text, with a detailed list of all of the actresses that he'd found. Not sure how much this might have been surpassed by more recent research, but not a bad place to start.)

And I was interested to learn that the baddie wearing the black hat in a Western has a long pedigree ...

"Pray," said King Charles, "what is the Meaning that we never see a Rogue in a Play, but, Godsfish! they always clap him on a black Perriwig, when it is well known one of the greatest Rogues in England [Shaftesbury] always wears a fair one?" (p. 58)


Blogger Minerva said...

I love the quotation by King Charles...I shall quote that at every opportunity I can now...



10/03/2005 08:54:00 pm  

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