Theatre Research International

Articles

French Opera and the Making of the Dorset Garden Theatre

Colin Visser

In the summer of 1671, after the court had left London and after his performance as Ladislaus in John Crowne's Juliana – a play thwarted, as the preface declared, by the fact that ‘the Dog-Star was near his Reign’ – Thomas Betterton made his way with Joseph Haines to Paris. What they, and particularly what Betterton, saw there helped to determine the form of the Dorset Garden Theatre which was then under construction, and which would open in November that year. When we compare what was happening on the French stage during and immediately after Betterton's visit with what we know of the Dorset Garden Theatre, however, it becomes clear that Betterton's experience was to have an effect on the form of the Dorset Garden Theatre not immediately, but in the years that followed its opening, and that the single most influential work was not one that Betterton saw on his visit to France in 1671, but one which was first performed two years later.