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date: 17 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The Theatre Regulation Act of 1843 in many ways endorsed a situation already in existence by permitting the minor theatres in the London metropolitan area to perform the spoken drama without fear of prosecution, thus breaking the monopoly of the patent theatres. It both followed and rejected the reformist agenda of the 1832 Select Committee on Dramatic Literature, lifting restrictions on what might be performed, but initiating a commercial rather than high cultural agenda and enabling greater censorship rather than less. Thus, while it reformed some of the abuses created by the patent monopoly, it is also created a way forward for a populist and somewhat idiosyncratic theatre far removed from that envisaged by Bulwer-Lytton and his colleagues on the Select Committee.

Keywords: patent theatres, censorship, burletta, Theatres Regulation Act, drama, star, high and low culture

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