William Wycherley, The Country Wife (1675) ACT I SCENE I. – Horner's Lodging Enter Horner, and Quack following him at a distance. Horner (aside). A quack is as fit for a pimp, as a midwife for a bawd; they are still but in their way, both helpers of nature. (Aloud.) Well, my dear doctor, hast thou done what I desired? Quack. I have undone you for ever with the women, and reported you throughout the whole town as bad as a eunuch, with as much trouble as if I had made you one in earnest.
Larrivo delle attrici And we do likewise permit and give leave that all the women's parts be acted in either of the said two companies for the time to come may be performed by women. (Killigrews Patent, 25 April 1662)
Lautodescrizione di Olivia in Twelfth Night VIOLA: […] Lady, you are the cruellst she alive If you will lead these graces to the grave And leave the world no copy. OLIVIA: O sir, I will not be so hard-hearted. I will give out divers schedules of my beauty. It shall be inventoried and every particle and utensil labelled to my will, as, item, two lips, indifferently red; item, two grey eyes, with lids to them, item, one neck, one chin, and so forth. Were you sent hither to praise me? (TN, 1.5.230-38)
La condizione umana secondo Hobbes Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (1651), Part I (Of Man), ch. VI: Continuall successe in obtaining those things which a man from time to time desireth […] is that men call F ELICITY ; I mean the Felicity of this life. For there is no such thing as perpetuall Tranquillity of mind, while we live here; because Life it selfe is but Motion, and can never be without Desire, nor without Feare, no more than without Sense.
Il teatro dei quacks: Arlecchino, mago e barbiere; P. Tanye, incisione, 1758
Il teatro dei quacks: M. Machoire, dentiste du grand mogol (acquaforte a colori, A. Auger, 1817)
The afterlife of Restoration comedy 1) Critical reception 2) Stage history 3) Adaptations/Rewritings
The Collier controversy: some key texts Jeremy Collier, A Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the English Stage (1698) John Vanbrugh, A Short Vindication of The Relapse and The Provok'd Wife from Immorality and Profaneness (1698) William Congreve, Amendments of Mr. Collier's False and Imperfect Citations (1698) John Dennis, The Usefulness of the Stage (1698) [the first large-scale answer] Jeremy Collier, A Defence of the Short View (1699) [written in reply to Congreve and Vanbrugh] James Drake, The Antient and Modern Stages Surveyed. Or, Mr. Colliers View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the English Stage Set in a True Light &c. (1699) Jeremy Collier, A Second Defence of the Short View &c. (1700) [written in reply to Drake] Edward Filmer, A Defence of Plays: or, The Stage Vindicated (1707) Jeremy Collier, A Farther Vindication of the Short View (1708) [written in reply to Filmer]
Stages in the critical reception of Restoration comedy 1)Richard Steele (1711): The whole celebrated Piece [i.e., The Man of Mode] is a perfect Contradiction to good Manners, good Sense, and common Honesty. [It is] built upon the Ruin of Virtue and Innocence […] and utmost Corruption and Degeneracy. 2)T.B. Macaulay, review of Leigh Hunts 1840 edition of The Dramatic Works of Wycherley, Congreve, Vanbrugh, and Farquhar: Restoration comedy seen as a disgrace to our language and our national heritage, and the comic poet as the mouthpiece of the most deeply corrupted part of a corrupt society. 3)C. Lamb, On the Artificial Comedy of the Last Century (1822): The artificial Comedy, or Comedy of manners […] is altogether a speculative scene of things, which has no reference whatever to the world that is. No good person can be justly offended as a spectator, because no good person suffers on the stage.
Staging the Restoration in the Twentieth Century - 1910s: first revivals; semi-private productions by the Phoenix Society, the English Stage Society, the Mermaid. -Mid-1920s: Nigel Playfairs productions at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith. Attempt to create a period style: high camp, lisps, huge wigs, canes and fans (William Gaskill quoted in Max-Stafford- Clark, Letters to George, 1989). -1963: William Gaskills Brechtian production of George Farquhars The Recruiting Officer in 1963 at the National Theatre. An attempt to establish the realism of the play – by which [Gaskill] did not mean stock naturalism, but proper recognition by the cast of the motives involved (J. Elsom and N. Tomalin, The History of the National Theatre, 1978).
Athene Seyler as Melantha, Marriage à la Mode, Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, 1920
Edith Evans as Mrs Sullen and Nigel Playfair as Gibbet, The Beaux Stratagem, Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, 1927
Edith Evans as Lady Fidget and Michael Redgrave as Horner, The Country Wife, Old Vic, 1936.
Ruth Gordon as Margery Pinchwife, The Country Wife, Old Vic, 1936.
Maggie Smith in breeches as Silvia, with Lynn Redgrave (Rose), The Recruiting Officer, Old Vic, 1963
The Restoration double bills at the Royal Court Theatre 1988: George Farquar, The Recruiting Officer + Timberlake Wertenbaker, Our Countrys Good (based on George Keneallys 1987 novel, The Playmaker). Director: Max Stafford-Clark. 1994: George Etherege, The Man of Mode + Stephen Jeffreys, The Libertine. Director: Max Stafford-Clark. An intertextual practice that affords the opportunity to place an historical event at the centre of the drama and then examine this moment through the eyes of a range of people. (Max Stafford-Clark, Letters to George, 1989).
The Etherege/Jeffreys double bill Looking at the Restoration through Rochesters point of view is quite a distorting mirror, you look at the period through the bottom of a bottle. (Stephen Jeffreys interviewed by Steve Nicholson and Sara Soncini, London, 15 May 1998). Restoration comedy presented with its vizard off and its breeches down (Michael Billington reviewing Stafford- Clarks production of The Country Wife at the RSC, 1993).
Contemporary Theatre and the Restoration looking-glass The historical and political context: -The Conservatives in Power (M. Thatcher, 1979-1990; J. Major, 1990-1997) -1978-79: the Winter of Discontent -Thatchers landslide victory at the 1979 General Election -The Hobbesian subtext of Thatcherism: 1) theres no such thing as a society (1987) 2) entrepreneurial freedom and authoritarian rule
Contemporary Theatre and the Restoration looking-glass Edward Bond, Restoration (1981): - a tract for Thatcherite times - failed socialist revolution + class betrayal Howard Barker, Victory: Choices in Reaction (1983): -a contemporary parable about the aftermath of the sixties
Contemporary Theatre and the Restoration looking-glass The society that produced these comedies, the society that is represented in them, was on the face of it highly successful, loudly and brashly proclaiming itself as fashionable, advanced and peaceful. But underneath was this extraordinary insecurity. It was, precisely, a Restoration society: things had been restored but nothing could be the same after the execution of a king. It was a society in which people were continually holding their breath for fear of disintegration. (Garry Hynes on the revival of The Man of Mode, RSC, 1988; quoted in James Wood, The way of the wordly, The Guardian, 28 April 1989)
The Man of Mode as a hangover play (S. Jeffreys) I would say that the first sixteen years of Charles IIs reign are like a party and then the hangover sets in. […] Plays like The Man of Mode are hangover plays. (S.Jeffreys, interview with Duska Radosavljevic, Scarborough, 6 April 1998) The thing is, Charlie, we expected so much of you. We thought you would transform everything just with your solemn and glittering presence. We wanted a Sun King. And when, after a few years, we saw it was just the same old caper, you asking parliament for money, them telling you to piss off, you shutting down their shop, we were bored with all that. When we brought you back we thought Kings are divine, thats what we missed, the godly touch. And finding that you didnt have it, that we could lose two wars to the Dutch, that London could be decimated with fire and pestilence, that we were still living on borrowed money, it wasnt what wed signed up for. I can forgive you a great deal but I cant forgive you for not being a God. (Stephen Jeffreys, The Libertine, Scene 11)
Revisioning The Man of Mode in The Libertine -The Libertine as Dorimants unauthorised biography -The politics of theatricality foregrounded -Rochesters and Ethereges different choices in reaction: You have made me endearing, havent you? (The Libertine, Scene One) -You will not like me: Jeffreyss prologue as a reversal of Ethereges opening scene
Tanika Guptas new version of The Country Wife -Black and Asian British Theatre -I dont like being seen as an Asian writer, in terms of being labelled in that I only write for Asians and thats the only thing I can do. I dont like that. I mean, you dont hear Tom Stoppard being referred to as a Czech writer or Harold Pinter as Jewish writer, so why should one be termed in that way?
Tanika Guptas new version of The Country Wife -a mix of different cultures: ethnic and linguistic difference of the cast and characters -Alok/Pinchwife: from fear of being cuckolded to fear of miscegenation -Third generation immigrants and their place in a hybrid urban culture
Tanika Guptas new version of The Country Wife -Translation as relocation and hybridization -Ending: blending of the contemporary and the 17th-century play -Linguistic contamination -Music as melting pot (bhangra: Punjabi roots fused with underground British music)