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How Far Did Historical Influences Affect The Development Of The Theatre Royal Bath In The 18th And 19th Century?

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How Far Did Historical Influences Affect The Development Of The Theatre Royal Bath In The 18th And 19th Century? During the 18th and 19th centuries going to the theatre became very popular, and was a common pastime in the evening. During the first half of the 19th century the theatre was at its most popular throughout the two centuries, and throughout the whole of the 19th century it was as popular as it was during the 18th, attracting the same sort of audience size. Today you would take a trip to the cinema, out to a fancy restaurant or nightclub; in the Victorian times you would pay a visit to the theatre. As going to the theatre was one of the main social events of the time, changes in society would affect the developments happening in the theatres. Therefore, there should be a very close link between historical influences and the development of the theatre. The sphere of development in the theatre and the sphere of changes to society around it are directly overlapped and connected. In Bath there were other theatres before the Orchard Street theatre received its Royal Patent in 1768. The first of these theatres was built in Upper Borough Walls and lasted from 1706 until 1737; it was then demolished to make way for a hospital. For the next 12 years the Simpson's Rooms were a temporary stage for travelling actors, but being only a temporary stage it showed just 25 plays in 6 years. The theatre changed in many ways during the 18th and 19th centuries and underwent several major developments including; changes to the site, building, interior, type of plays and audiences attracted. ...read more.


The interior and exterior of the theatre were decorated with what was seen as fashionable at the time, and as fashions changed so did the d�cor to seem attractive to visitors. The new theatre was especially designed so that it stuck out from its fashionable surroundings in the new part of Bath. This meant that it attracted the attention of the passer-by and therefore attracted more customers. Fashion is also linked to changes in the city and architectural influences. Other main factors affecting the development of the theatre were first of all the role of individuals and then religion. Individuals like Beau Nash and John Wood prompted huge change to the theatre, and with individuals like John Palmer (both Senior and Junior) investing in change out of their own pockets enabling the theatres to develop. But as with everything in life, the biggest factor for development was money. Every investment and every minor change to the theatre was all to make more profit for the shareholders. Without the incentive of money, business and competition the theatre would never have existed in the first place and no changes would have been carried out to it. Around the 18th and 19th century religion was a big factor for all developments and changes. Religion had control over many people's actions and the way they lived their lives. With the rise of purism in the 19th century and the backlash they gave the theatre meant for some people it was a 'no-go' area, but for others it meant that it increased their interest in the theatre as they wanted to know what they were missing out on. This meant that again it prompted change as the audience size changed, the type of audience changed and the plays shown changed. ...read more.


One of the main theatres of the time, Drury Lane, was also undergoing similar developments to those in Bath. Drury Lane was rebuilt 4 times, once being just a few years after Bath had moved site for the same reason; expansion. This means that theatres all over the country were expanding. It also burnt down twice like the theatre royal did showing that fires were not uncommon in theatres around that time. Georgian cities across the country were also expanding and going through the same building frenzy that Bath did. An example of this is the Georgian city of Exeter, like Bath many Georgian terraces were built outside the city walls and the population increased rapidly. The theatre during the 18th and 19th centuries was affected to a large extent by historical influences. There is clear evidence to show that the increase in popularity and status of Bath affected the theatre. When Bath was at its peak of popularity and starting to expand beyond the city walls, the rate of development in the theatre was high and the capacity of Orchard Street was pushed. Like Drury Lane theatres across the country were becoming more popular and expanding. This was no different in Bath and the change in the general popularity of theatrical productions itself forced the development of the new theatre to be carried out. Another historical influence was, just like in Georgian Exeter, the city was going through a building phenomenon and was expanding rapidly. This again was mirrored in the expansion of the theatre with the Building of Beaufort Square in the new more fashionable part of Bath. Changes in society and theatrical culture had a huge influence on the developments in the Theatre Royal Bath and were the cause of most changes made. Rory Stevens 10PA ...read more.

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