In these days, when theatre tickets may cost £50 or more (double that in London’s West End) it’s interesting to see just how much value our Georgian ancestors obtained for their money. Not just a ‘main attraction’ but various types of supporting acts, such as farces, singing, pantomimes and even processions. Members of the company were expected to be able to turn their hands to many different roles – at least early in their careers. Only the most famous and established actors might pick and choose. In time, most became known for some aspect of their art, whether that was tragedy, comedy or even operatic singing.
It’s also clear that these were repertory productions, so all the players would need to learn a good number of roles and be able to swap between them.
Here‘s a notice for forthcoming attractions at Norwich‘s Theatre Royal in February, 1782. I suspect the references to “as will be expressed in the [hand]bills” allowed for repeats or changes of programme, depending on audience reaction earlier.
At the Theatre-Royal, by his Majesty’s Servants, on Saturday, February the 16th, 1782, will be presented a Comedy call’d The Belle Stratagem. To which will be added the last new Farce, call’d The Divorce.
On Monday, February the 18th, will be presented a Tragedy (with Additions and Alterations never performed here) call’d Oronoko; Or, The Royal Slave. Singing between the Acts, by Mrs WESTON. To which will be added a new Pantomime Entertainment (for the 10th Night) call’d Harlequin on the Rocks; Or, A Trip to Norwich. In which will be introduced (for the Second Time) a Grand Procession, In Commemoration of the Celebrated Bishop Blaze . With all the usual Emblems of Banners, etc. To conclude with a Dance by the Characters.
On Tuesday a Play and Entertainment, as will be expressed in the Bills.
And on Thursday (never acted here) a new Tragedy,call’d The Fair Circassian. As now performing at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane with universal Applause. To which will be added anEntertainment as will be expressed in the Bills.
To begin each Night at Six o’Clock. Vivant Rex et Regina. Tickets to be had of Mr DOVE, at his Office, of whom Places for the Boxes may be taken. N.B. The Days of playing next Week will be Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
- Bishop Blaise (Blaize or Blaze) was the Patron Saint of Woolcombers, having, it was said, been martyred by use of a wool comb. Norwich was famous for the production of woollen cloth. ↩