The Amorous Widow: or, The Wanton Wife - Thomas Betterton

The Amorous Widow: or, The Wanton Wife

The Amorous Widow: or, The Wanton Wife

٠ ٠ 5 المؤلف: Thomas Betterton
الكتاب الإليكتروني.
Thomas Patrick Betterton was born around 1635 in London.

As can be understood exact records of much of his early life do not exist.

We know he was apprenticed to John Holden, Sir William Davenant's publisher, and later John Rhodes, a bookseller, whose previous career was that of wardrobe-keeper at the Blackfriars Theatre.

In 1659, Rhodes obtained a license to set up a company of players at the Cockpit Theatre in Drury Lane; and when the theatre re-opened the following year Betterton made his first stage appearance.

By all accounts he was talented and was soon performing the leads. In 1661 a new theatre opened in Lincoln's Inn Fields. Davenant, the patentee of the Duke's Company, engaged Betterton and Rhodes's company to perform his ‘The Siege of Rhodes’.

Betterton was by now a public favourite and a royal favourite and keen on improving the presentation of plays and the management of theatres. Charles II sent him to Paris to examine stage improvements and then introduced the shifting scenes that replaced the tapestry backgrounds of English theatre.

In 1662 Betterton married the actress Mary Saunderson. She and Betterton played opposite each other in a production of Hamlet’ she played Ophelia, to his Hamlet. They were also invited to teach the children from noble and royal families to perform John Crowne's ‘Calisto’, 1675, in the last Stuart court Masque.

Betterton was taller than average, athletic, with a strong rather melodious voice which was wonderfully dexterious. His repertory included Shakespearian roles, in versions adapted by Davenant, Dryden, Shadwell and Nahum Tate. In them his performances were praised. He played Lear opposite Elizabeth Barry's Cordelia in Tate's modified version of Shakespeare's ‘King Lear’. Betterton was also the author of several popular adaptations.

After Davenant's death in 1668, Betterton was the manager and director of the Duke's Company, and from the merger of London's two theatre companies in 1682, he continued these functions in the new United Company. However, in 1695, as this theatrical monopoly worsened conditions of the actors they all walked out. They set up a co-operative company in Lincoln's Inn Fields under Betterton's leadership.

The first production was the premiere of Congreve's ‘Love for Love’ with Betterton as Valentine and Anne Bracegirdle as Angelica. After several years, audiences dwindled, profits fell and Betterton now older and stricken with gout decided to retire from the stage. At his benefit performance, where he again played Valentine in ‘Love for Love, the profits are said to have been over £500.

Betterton's career behind the stage was almost transformative. He invented new stage machines at Dorset Garden Theatre, transposed ‘The Prophetess’ into an opera, and introduced French singers and dancers to the Restoration stage. He also built the first permanent theatre fully equipped with Italianate machinery. Additionally, he invested in remodeling the tennis court in the Lincoln's Inn Fields and built a new theatre there. His salary was now topped up by a small "rent" fees for each performance played there.

Betterton worked with all of the most significant playwrights of his age and performed with the first generation of English actresses. It is said that Betterton had more than 120 different roles at his command from heroic drama, Jonsonian comedy, comedies of manners, tragicomedies by Beaumont and Fletcher, and tragedies, comedies and histories by Shakespeare.

At the age of seventy-five, he claimed, "He was yet learning to be an actor."

Three days before his death at seventy-five, he made his last appearance on the stage in 1710, as Melantius in ‘The Maid's Tragedy’.

Thomas Betterton died on April 28th 1710. He was buried in Westminster Abbey.
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دار النشر: Stage Door
تاريخ الإصدار: 2019-03-25
ISBN رقم: 9781787805002

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