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News 2010: (US) Witchcraft and Madness in Restoration England

Contributed by Admin on Nov 12, 2010

Restoration Theater (in brief)

In 1660, Charles II was crowned King of England. The country had been in a political and parliamentary dictatorship for many years, and had now been restored. Hence, a new chapter in English history called the Restoration. It wasn’t just the restoration of the monarchy, however, but the return of a culture that had been shut down during the dictatorship, such as public theaters.

With theaters open for business, once again, plays were performed for a welcoming public and many new ones written to satisfy demand. Audiences enjoyed the intriguing possibilities that came with a new play, with its multiple plots and its stock characters, including ones that were disordered—witches, melancholics, and the insane.

Witches held a special place in the imagination of the English theatergoer. Witches and witchcraft had the power to remove balance from life and cause chaos. They were often depicted with familiars, or creatures they were typically associated with—the cat, owl, bat, or frog. Witches were also portrayed in numbers.

As well as  “Mad Bess and her rant”; “Duo Recital: Ingrid and Byron Return” and “The baryton (not baritone)

Visit the Harmonia Early Music website to hear the 1 hour long programme.