AUDIENCE IN LONDON THEATRES OF THE RESTORATION PERIOD
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In the literature on the subject the conviction persists that the theatre of the Restoration was closely associated with the king and his court. The court, apart from financial patronage, offered its support for the fight with London's authorities. The growing interest of the elites was accompanied by an increasingly strong position of the theatre and the actors. The theatre provided entertainment, and at the same time could be a significant instrument of propaganda for the king, a moral school and occasionally a defender of the court's policy. King Charles II was undoubtedly an avid admirer of the theatre. The royalties and aristocracy visited also public theatres. The alliance between the court and the stage had a heavy impact on the repertoire and the appearance of the theatres. The elites attracted the crowd; often, a theatre was the only place for the townsmen to see the king. The theatre itself was also an object of keen interest to numerous Londoners who discussed new plays and private lives of the actors. Social diversity of the audience in the Restoration period was reflected by the various categories of seats. Similar houses were to be also seen in other European countries, since in general, the audience was polarised in all countries. The Restoration theatres were less successful in attracting the townspeople that the Elizabethan ones, and thereby were more elitist. Comparing with continental theatres, however, the attendance at London's Companies was quite high. The development of commercialisation meant that the theatres were accessible to anyone who paid, regardless of social standing, and managers tried to attract the biggest number of spectators. Thus, London theatres were frequented by all: from the King and his courtiers, through the officials of various rank, to craftsmen, servants and the dregs of society. The growth of urban power and weakness of the royal court determined the fact that the Restoration theatre was increasingly connected with the urban culture and less and less with the court one. The burgers began to display greater awareness of culture and take an active part in its development, and the theatre was a constant element of social life, the more important that it connected the worlds of women and men.
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