Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cupid and Death

What would happen if Cupid and Death switched arrows for a day?

The rise of the Puritan movement in England briefly brought an end to British theater -- Puritans felt that "entertainment" was sinful, and when they gained control of the city of London early in the English Civil War, they ordered the closure of the London theaters and on September 2nd, 1642. The theaters remained closed for the next eighteen years, re-opening after the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660. Cupid and Death was a special exception -- it was written by James Shirley as a private entertainment for a visiting Portuguese ambassador, the Count of Peneguiaõ.

The drama depends on a traditional tale, found in Aesop and many subsequent versions. For his source, Shirley employed a 1651 translation of Aesop by John Ogilby, with whom he'd worked at the Werburgh Street Theatre in the later 1630s.

The complete play can be found in a new collection of English and British comedy plays for the stage.

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