The Life of a Strolling Player

  • 16 Jan 2012
  • Theatre
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It should be noted that the playbill states that the play is presented gratis. This was an attempt to defeat the magistrates, who were usually against play-acting. The players could only give their plays by interlarding them with musical entertainments. The music was paid for, the play was thrown in gratis; and the law was blinded, though nobody else was.

The strolling players often had themselves to blame for the opposition of the magistrates, for they frequently led to lives of utter squalor and degredation. Among Kemble's troupe was Thomas Holcroft, who later wrote The Road to Ruin. He joined them in a half-starved state, and wandered with them from town to town by way of Ludlow, Leominster, Worcester, Droitwich and Bewdley, 'noting the half-piteous, half-ludricous features of their lives, how the leading actor with the fiery bottle nose who drank hard, had rubbed the powder off that feature, while his drunken lady stood ready with the powder puff at the wings to cover it afresh'.