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  • Print publication year: 2004
  • Online publication date: March 2008

18 - The condition of the theatres in 1642

The London theatres had been active for barely eight months of 1642 when their operations were peremptorily halted by order of Parliament. The parliamentary order against stage plays has long been taken as marking the moment at which 'Elizabethan' drama effectively ended. By the time that conditions were restored under which London's theatres could once again open legally, the character of the drama that they hosted had completely altered. The arrival of actresses and the introduction of changeable scenery into the public theatres were only the most conspicuous signs that the plays that would be seen on the stages of 1660 would take forms radically different from those they had possessed before. September 1642 was thus a watershed in the history of English theatre, and marks a sharp discontinuity between two periods of drama. It is evident that political uncertainties were starting to affect the theatres well before parliament's order was issued.
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The Cambridge History of British Theatre
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