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Restoration Comedy Shortly after the glory days of Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre a Puritanical movement led by Oliver Cromwell gained control of Parliament Cromwell ethics did not extend to cover the moral extravagance of theatre Under the guise of public health and safety Parliament ordered the closing of all theatres on September 2 1642 Such dirty public areas were the perfect breeding ground for the spreading of plague Actors were left with two options join Charles I in the civil war against Cromwell or defy the law and continue performing Then in 1649 Charles lost his head establishing the new Commonwealth In 1653 Cromwell disbanded Parliament and named himself Lord High Protector During these day of political chaos a new underground theater evolved This new theatre was an extremely risky venture Any actor caught performing would be imprisoned Box office receipts would be confiscated for the Commonwealth Enormous fines would be levied against any daring to sit in an audience Entire playhouses would be destroyed their interiors gutted or exteriors burned Theatre faced extinction It became an obsequious art catering to Cromwells strict moral code Killigrew would survive and eventually form the Theatre Royal but he lived in constant fear Davenant worked through legal channels to produce theatre Cromwell could not dispute His pieces were simple more opera then play and propaganda for the Commonwealth Interestingly the first woman to appear on the British stage did so in this time in Davenants The Siege of Rhodes He began pushing the envelope uncomfortable in his new sycophantic role He renewed his ties to the British aristocracy exiled to France He befriended Charles II and when the young king made his triumphant return to power Davenant was given the monopoly on all theatre in London He shared this power with his old friend Thomas Killigrew Under their guidance the theatre exploded back into being Those who had remained in England during the Commonwealth had
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