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The year is 1645 — the middle of the English Civil War. Matthew Hopkins, an opportunist and witchhunter, takes advantage of the breakdown in social order to impose a reign of terror on East Anglia. [May 2006]

Invention of the magic lantern

Theatre censorship

Puritan opposition to the stage -- informed by the arguments of the early Church Fathers who had written screeds against the decadent and violent entertainments of the Romans -- argued not only that the stage in general was pagan, but that any play that represented a religious figure was inherently idolatrous. In 1642, the Protestant authorities banned the performance of all plays within the city limits of London. A sweeping assault against the alleged immoralities of the theater crushed whatever remained in England of the Medieval dramatic tradition. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_theatre#Theatre_in_the_Middle_Ages [Dec 2005]

The rising Puritan movement was hostile to the theatres, which the Puritans considered to be sinful for several reasons. The most commonly cited reason was that young men dressed up in female costume to play female roles. Theatres were located in the same parts of the city in which brothels and other forms of vice proliferated. When the Puritan faction of Parliament gained control over the city of London at the beginning of the English Civil War, it ordered the closing of all theatres in 1642 — though this was largely because the stage was being used to promote opposing political views. After the monarchy was restored the theatres re-opened. The English King and many writers had spent years in France and were influenced by the flourishing French theatre of Louis XIV, especially in tragedy. However, Restoration audiences had no enthusiasm for structurally simple, well-shaped comedies such as those of Molière, but demanded bustling, crowded multi-plot action and fast comedic pace, and the Elizabethan features of multitude of scenes, multitude of characters, and melange of genres lived on in Restoration comedy. The Elizabethan classics were the mainstay of the Restoration repertory, although many of the tragedies were adapted to conform to the new taste.

For 50 years, drama had been the highest form of literature in English, and the Elizabethan writers had gained a reputation through much of Europe, as attested in Don Quixote and elsewhere, as the finest dramatists since the Roman Empire. After the closing of 1642, the late 17th-century extravaganza of Restoration comedy was the only drama of real significance in English until Irishmen such as George Bernard Shaw, John Synge and Oscar Wilde revived the art more than two centuries later. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabethan_theatre#Finale [Dec 2005]

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