Restoration Drama Background

The long, brilliant chapter of renaissance drama came to a close with the ban of theatres by the commonwealth government   in 1642. There was of course evasion of the law; but whatever performances were offered had to be given in secrecy, before small companies in private houses, or in taverns located three or four miles out of town. No actor or spectator was safe, especially during the early days of the Puritan rule. Least of all was there any inspiration for dramatists. It was natural, upon the return of Charles II , that French influence should be felt, particularly in the theatre. In August, 1660, Charles issued patents for two companies of players, and performances immediately began. Certain writers, in the field before the civil war, survived the period of theatrical eclipse, and now had their chance. Among these were Thomas Killigrew and William Davenant, who were quickly provided with fine playhouses.
The plays were now accused of elitism where   were performed exclusively for the elite class and thus lost their identity as a popular mode of entertainment. The absence of natural light made the use of artificial lighting and effects indispensable. The three-dimensional Elizabethan stage metamorphosized into   a one-dimensional , curtained one. Women finally took their rightful places as female actors as opposed to the Elizabethan chaps dressed as women.
Famous playwrights of the ban period include D’Avenant and Dryden. D’Avenant   wrote the play,   ‘The Siege of Rhodes’ which   is generally noted as marking the entrance of women upon the English stage. It is also remembered for its use of movable machinery, which was something of an innovation. The panorama of The Siege offered five changes of scene which was also a new development.
Dryden took a stab at pointing out the technical inconsistencies of Shakespeare’s work in contrast with that of Ben Johnson’s in his ‘defence of poesie’. Although he idolized Shakespeare, he wrote ‘all for...