Patent Theater

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As Patent Theater is called the theater, in the period from 1660 bis 1843 held a monopoly on the performance of plays in England.

The censorship of the theater had a long history. Under Elizabeth I , the Master of the Revels (Master of Ceremonies) was responsible for the approval of theaters and plays. In the reign of Oliver Cromwell , theater largely came to a standstill in England. After the Restoration issued Charles II. Patents for "spoken drama" in two theater companies: the King's Players of Thomas Killigrew that from 1663 the Drury Lane Theater recorded, and the Duke's Players of William Davenant , resulting in Lincoln's Inn Fields settled and 1671 moved to the new Dorset Garden Theater . The patents were designed in such a way that they should each pass to the heirs.

After the King's Players Society collapsed under Thomas' son Charles Killigrew, the two troops united. Until 1695 there was only one theater company, which played at the Drury Lane Theater and Dorset Garden Theater. Only then was another license issued by the king, with which Thomas Betterton moved back to Lincoln's Inn Fields . In 1732 this patent went to the Theater Royal Covent Garden .

While there were general licenses for the theaters during this time, the government could not influence individual plays. The Theatrical Licensing Act of 1737 enforced by Robert Walpole tightened censorship measures. The direct trigger for the measure is the satire The Golden Rump , but in previous years the drama had been a popular means of political debate with the government, especially for the Jacobites . Henry Fielding played a prominent role in this. Every new or changed piece had to be submitted to the Lord Chamberlain of the Household for review 14 days before the performance , who could prohibit the performance. Furthermore, legitimate drama was limited to patent theaters, and other theaters turned to other forms of entertainment, such as melodramas and burlesque, which had a high proportion of music and were therefore not classified as drama.

In 1766 the Haymarket Theater was granted a patent by Samuel Foote to play in the summer months when the other London theaters were closed. In the following years further patents were granted, e.g. B. 1768 to the Theater Royal (Bath) , 1772 to the Theater Royal (Liverpool) , 1778 to the Theater Royal Bristol .

The theater monopoly was lifted with the Theater Regulation Act of 1843, but the censorship measures continued until 1968. Based on a law passed in 1713 and narrowed in 1737, all plays intended for public performance had to be approved by the "Lord Chamberlain" until the 1930s. be submitted. In 1968 theater censorship in Great Britain was abolished by a parliamentary resolution.

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Individual evidence

  1. a b c See Patent theater . On: Encyclopædia Britannica . Retrieved August 16, 2019.
  2. See Kenneth O. Morgan: Britain Since 1945. The People's Peace , Oxford University Press, 3rd ed. Oxford et al. 2001, p. 259.