Contemporary and Modern Performances of the Plays
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In the Restoration period, a number of superb actors walked the stage, but it was felt that, in acting, nature must be augmented by dignity and beauty. Accordingly, acting was stylised, delivery was declamatory, and set gestures and facial expressions were used to convey specific emotions: a stamp of the foot implied anger, guilt was expressed by eyes cast to one side and head bent low, bashfulness by a hand placed over the mouth.76 Most performers did not stay in character when it was their colleagues’ turn to speak and up to Garrick in the middle of the eighteenth century there was little sense of ensemble acting. Garrick also introduced a more natural style of acting and delivery. However, when the two legitimate theatres were rebuilt at the end of the eighteenth century to seat more than 3000 spectators each, performers were dwarfed by these dimensions and returned to a more artificial and melodramatic acting style to make themselves understood in the gallery.
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