Theatrical Victorians Cameron garza

Theater was highly popular and drastically changed throughout the Victorian Era. There were three main focuses for the art, in this time period. Music, performances and people are what made up and are what altered throughout were the Victorian era.

Theatrical music wasn't very prevalent and large, it was confusing but eventually found its place. Theater’s current musical influence started about 200 years ago. “Before Mid-nineteenth century, theatrical music was called simply "music" or "appropriate music” (Kerry 70). Theater Music wasn't called 'incidental music' until later than this, around 1864. Incidental Music was the term that was finally agreed upon because, "It could only correctly be applied to marches, dances, and songs which are 'incidental' to the action of the play” (Kerry 71). The name of theatrical music was greatly argued by many until this term was finally conjured up. Finally a form of music to assist with filling the silence and giving more meaning to the actor’s dialogue was created called Melodrame. "For music 'which accompanies the dialogue and reflects the feeling and emotion of spoken lines,' O'Niell preferred the original French term Melodrame" (Kerry 71). Melodrame in a sense, does not just relate to theater but as music used to underscore any type of dialogue. Music used to assist the actors in establishing and sustaining the emotional pitch at any given moment of a play.

Performances were an ever changing item in the Victorian era and could often times be whatever seemed entertaining. One law that was passed to affect the change of theater was the Theater Regulation Act 1843. "Terminated the century-long monopoly enjoyed by Covent Garden, Drury lane, and Hagmarket theaters of 'legitimate' drama" (William 17). This Act helped to balance out the playing field for theater by not only taking down the monopoly of large theater corporations, but also making the smaller theaters to finally perform burlettas. A form of performance that was popular at the time was street theater. "Amusement was found on the streets by rich and poor alike, and boys were at the forefront of what might be termed street theatre, creating drama, watching it and enhancing it" (Judith 301-302). Street Theater brought everyone together, no matter what kind of person you were. Street events could be anything and oddly enough they were whatever seemed slightly entertaining. “Yet the journalist James Ritchie noted the same universal interest in the mundane: ‘Hail a cab in any part of London,’ he wrote, and ‘you will observe that several grown-up persons and a large number of boys will stop to see you get in the cab. (Judith 302-303). Street events were weird sometimes because people of this era were very entertained by minimal things.

The numerous amounts of people are what make up the essence of theater as a whole whether they were producing or watching the plays. To start, the audiences were undoubtedly the reason in which theatre existed in the first place. "Victorian audiences were so diverse that it is impossible to consider a generic audience for this period” (Kerry 93). Audiences as a whole were a very different bunch of people. Along with this we can see Kerry also states that “Audiences varied from theater to theater and even within theaters." (Kerry 93). Solidifying the diversity of audiences, they brought the rich, the poor, low, middle, and high class citizens together. A famous producer named George Bernard Shaw, and he had very strict expectations for all of his actors. "Actors in Shavian plays must comprehend mental states that 'still seem cynical perverse to most people' and cultivate a good-humored contempt for 'ethical conventions' that had once seemed 'validly heroic or vulnerable” (Kerry 17). George seems like he wanted a lot from his actors so that the shows he produces will be fantastic instead of medicore. Surprisingly to me Charles Dickens had dabbled in theater as well. "Dickens' belief in theater relevance to life is based on his conception of theatrum mundi, which sketches by Boz and Pickwick papers adumbrate” (William 140). Charles Dickens' appreciation for theater can be seen in all of his works from Oliver Twist and his use of tonal ambiguity to Great Expectations and its pattern both for parallel and anarchism.

Theater was very important in Victorian Era, It was altered and found its path to what it is today. It went into to the new era a little bland and uninspired but came out as a new entity ready to be molded into the great thing it is today.

Created By
Cameron Garza


Created with images by Bergadder - "buildings at night lights" • Dieter_G - "curtain stage theater" • HugoAtaide - "microphone audio voice" • Alan Cleaver - "Theater" • tiburi - "woman women girl" • waldomiguez - "vienna opera house"

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