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"A small-beer health to his second day": Playwrights, Prologues, and First Performances in the Early Modern Theater

"A small-beer health to his second day": Playwrights, Prologues, and First Performances in the... ‘‘A small-beer health to his second day’’: Playwrights, Prologues, and First Performances in the Early Modern Theater by Tiffany Stern ‘‘ ET fancy,’’ shrugs the prologue to George Powell’s Alphonso (1691), ‘‘save my Play, / And then I’ll laugh at Wits on my Third Day.’’ L What he is saying is that he hopes the audience will accept his play by applauding it. Provided they do so, Alphonso will be put on at least another two times; if the reverse happens and it is ‘‘damned,’’ it will never be staged again. Powell is particularly anxious that the play sur- vive to its third performance, as he will be given a portion of the reve- nue brought in that night for his ‘‘benefit.’’ This will be the major (and perhaps only) payment he gets for his writing. The prologue, as is clear, is for the play only in its early stage-life, angled toward that audience who will determine the production’s survival to the benefit. This pro- logue and the wishes it expresses are entirely standard, and it is usual to point out the three-day nature of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century prologues. But despite the fact that many Caroline and some Jacobean http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Studies in Philology University of North Carolina Press

"A small-beer health to his second day": Playwrights, Prologues, and First Performances in the Early Modern Theater

Studies in Philology , Volume 101 (2) – Apr 13, 2004

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2004 The University of North Carolina Press.
ISSN
1543-0383

Abstract

‘‘A small-beer health to his second day’’: Playwrights, Prologues, and First Performances in the Early Modern Theater by Tiffany Stern ‘‘ ET fancy,’’ shrugs the prologue to George Powell’s Alphonso (1691), ‘‘save my Play, / And then I’ll laugh at Wits on my Third Day.’’ L What he is saying is that he hopes the audience will accept his play by applauding it. Provided they do so, Alphonso will be put on at least another two times; if the reverse happens and it is ‘‘damned,’’ it will never be staged again. Powell is particularly anxious that the play sur- vive to its third performance, as he will be given a portion of the reve- nue brought in that night for his ‘‘benefit.’’ This will be the major (and perhaps only) payment he gets for his writing. The prologue, as is clear, is for the play only in its early stage-life, angled toward that audience who will determine the production’s survival to the benefit. This pro- logue and the wishes it expresses are entirely standard, and it is usual to point out the three-day nature of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century prologues. But despite the fact that many Caroline and some Jacobean

Journal

Studies in PhilologyUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Apr 13, 2004

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