Dramatic performances during the Commonwealth(Letter 4, note 13)
I take the following facts and references from Prof. Rollins' paper.
p. 293. Mr. Rollins quotes Wright (Historia Histrionica, 1699), who is speaking of the time of the Interregnum:
'they used to Act privately, three or four Miles, or more, out of Town, now here, now there, sometimes in Noblemens Houses, in particular Holland house at Kensington, where the Nobility and Gentry who met (but in no great numbers) used to make a Sum for them, each giving a broad Peice or the like. [Holland House was taken over by Parliament after E. of Holland's execution 1649, but apparently soon restored to his widow.] And Alexander Goffe, the Woman Actor at Blackfriers (who had made himself known to Persons of Quality) used to be the Jackal and give note of Time and Place. At Christmass and Bartlemew fair, they used to Bribe the Officer who Commanded the Guard at Whitehall, and were thereupon connived at to act for a few days, at the Red Bull.'
pg 299p. 303. Cowley states that his Guardian printed in 1650 (and revised after the Restoration as Cutter of Coleman Street) was several times privately acted during the Interregnum, and the gentlemen of the Inner Temple performed a masque privately in Nov. 1651.
p. 305. The Red Bull was never closed for a long period during the whole interregnum.
p. 309. Of course the government made some exceptions in the case of private entertainments. Certainly with its knowledge and consent Jas. Shirley's masque of Cupid and Death was presented on March 26 1653 before the Portuguese Ambassador. In the printed copy (bought by George Thomason on March 28), the printer informs his readers that 'This Masque was born without ambition of more, than to make good a privat entertainment, though it found without any address or design of the Author, an honourable acceptation from his Excellency, the Embassadour of Portugal, to whom it was presented by Mr. Luke Channen … The Scæns wanted no elegance, or curiosity for the delight of the Spectator. The Musical compositions had in them a great soul of Harmony. For the Gentlemen that perform'd the Dances, thus much the Author did affirm, upon sight of their practise, that they shew'd themselves Masters of their quality.' [This performance before the Portuguese Ambassador took place about ten weeks after the masques, which, as Dorothy thinks, discomposed the Spanish gravity.
Thomas Jordan published in 1657 Fancy's Festivals: A Masque As it hath been privately presented by many civil persons of quality..
Professor Allardyce Nicoll suggests that D'Avenant's Cruelty of the Spaniards in Peru, acted towards the close of 1656, may have been given privately at an earlier date.]