Perhaps, like Francesca, you like to include a little theater in your New Year celebrations. There is nothing like the thrill of finding one’s seat and perusing the playbill, waiting to see what delights one will enjoy when the curtain rises!
If you would like to be a more educated theater-goer, Francesca recommends a truly enlightening reference book — perhaps for your coffee table? — which will provide much enjoyment and useful information for the cocktail party chit-chat: History of the Theatre, Foundation Edition by the superfantastic theater scholar, Oscar Brockett.
This is the book which students of theater read when they embark on the careers in acting, or theater criticism, or directing, or playwrighting. Should not the readers of Manolo for the Big Girl be equally educated?
And if attending the theater is not in your plans right now, you can still bring the theater to you. Francesca recommends that you do yourself a favor and jump into the world of Restoration Drama. This is a style of theater which became popular after Charles II was restored to the British throne in 1660; he had spent the years of his exile in France, where he learned to appreciate life’s fanciful follies. For the first time in England women were allowed on stage to play female characters, and the plays began to feature quite bawdy plot twists, usually including adulteress women and several cases of mistaken identity. Restoration Drama was to Restoration Audiences what Three’s Company was to television audiences of the 1980’s; but because the language is a little bit difficult, people who read the plays now can enjoy the ridiculous plots and comedy while simultaneously seeming to be involved in high culture. You can be smugly pompous while also having fun, and is that not what life is all about? (Francesca jokes.)
Here is a nice anthology of Restoration Drama, which includes some of the best-known works of the period: The Country Wife, The Way of the World, The School for Scandal, The Rover, and The Man of Mode.
Oddly, the anthology is missing one of the classics of the period:She Stoops to Conquer. But for just $10.45 you can get that play by itself, pictured at right, from Amazon.
You may also wish to pick up an anthology of works by England’s first professional female writer, the superfantastic Aphra Behn, who wrote The Rover in the anthology above and many more very entertaining plays.
Francesca recommends The Rover and Other Plays over other collections of her work because it includes The Lucky Chance, which Francesca believes is Behn’s best work.