Description

Variety acts incorporating singing, dancing, acrobatics or even horsemanship were all part of the astonishing variety of theatre in the Georgian period, particularly in smaller theatres that did not depend on regular drama as a chief source of their revenue. The culture of theatre-going, in small and larger theatres alike, was characterised by a much different atmosphere than we would expect today. Theatre lights were rarely dimmed so that people could properly view one another from the galleries, and audiences of all classes were sometimes noisy and disrespectful to actors and singers. Food and drink was consumed throughout performances, and physical disagreements between audience members often boiled over into fights. One foreign visitor to the theatre in 1782, Carl Philip Moritz, described how during the performance ‘often ... did a rotten orange, or pieces of the peel of an orange, fly past me’, and several theatres were vandalised during the 18th century when audiences rioted owing to proposed increases to entry prices.

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