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Playbill - The Constant Couple

The Constant Couple

  • Object:

    Playbill

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1744 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (printers)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Letterpress on paper with woodcut

  • Credit Line:

    Accepted by HM Government in lieu of Inheritance Tax and allocated to the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1996

  • Museum number:

    S.688-1997

  • Gallery location:

    Theatre & Performance, Room 106, case WE, shelf EXP

Playbill for The Constant Couple, or, A Trip to the Jubilee, Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, 1744.

18th century theatre managements liked to advertise their star actors, rather than their authors. Playwright George Farquhar (1677-1707) is not mentioned on the playbill for this popular comedy, first staged in 1700 and frequently revived. The principal names on the playbill are those of Mrs Woffington, who was playing the male role of Sir Harry Wildair, the singer Mr Lowe and dancer Mr Muilment. These are the names that would have drawn the crowds.

Margaret Woffington (1720?-1760), always known as Peg, had great success in 'breeches roles'. She first played Wildair in Dublin, her place of birth, in 1740. Coming to London later that year she was employed by John Rich, manager of the Covent Garden Theatre. She played a range of roles and was, again, a sensation as Wildair. When she joined the company at Drury Lane in 1742, she continued to appear in the part. Though Farquhar had written the role for a male actor, Mrs Woffington had made it her own.

Physical description

Letterpress playbill, advertising The Constant Couple, or, A Trip to the Jubilee, performed by His Majesty's Company of Comedians at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, on Wednesday, 5 December. The text is printed in fonts of various size, with the name of Mrs Woffington; Mr Lowe the singer, and Mr Muilment the dancer, in larger type. At the top is a woodcut of the Royal Coat of Arms with the monogram 'G II R'.

Place of Origin

London (made)

Date

1744 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown (printers)

Materials and Techniques

Letterpress on paper with woodcut

Dimensions

Height: 23.4 cm, Width: 16.5 cm

Object history note

Associated production: The Constant Couple, or, A Trip to the Jubilee. Comedy by George Farquhar. Actors Peg Woffington, Mr Delane, Mr Taswell, Mr Havard, Mrs Griffard, Mrs Bennet, Mr Yates, Mr Lowe and Mr Ray. 5.12.1744, Drury Lane Theatre, London.

This playbill was accompanied by a page from a dealer's catalogue, giving details of the object.

Descriptive line

Playbill advertising The Constant Couple, or, A Trip to the Jubilee at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, 1744

Labels and date

18th century theatre managements were keen to advertise their star actors, not their dramatists. Playwright George Farquhar (author of the ever-popular comedy, The Recruiting Officer) is not mentioned on the playbill for The Constant Couple. The principal names are those of Peg Woffington, a well-regarded actress who played the male role of Sir Harry Wildair, and the singer and dancer. [16/08/2016]

Materials

Printing ink; Paper

Techniques

Printing; Woodcut

Categories

Entertainment & Leisure; Theatre; Posters; Advertising

Collection

Theatre and Performance Collection

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