Popes and Ventriloquy

I love reading about early theatre performances. In the early 18th century the first Prime Minister Robert Walpole was annoyed at the many scurrilous plays and comedies insulting him and his ministry so he passed the Licensing act of 1737 which censored public performances and continued into the 20th century.

This led to shows advertising musical interludes or comedies with dramatic pieces in between. They put on comedies of Hamlet, musicals of Robinson Crusoe with a cast including clowns. Basically they had a show, and they put it into the form of whatever story they thought would get bums on seats, which is fair enough. They had to make a living.

But this is from British History online, which shows how they really took liberties with history, referring to the Trocadero Music Hall site:

During the 1820’s and two succeeding decades the tennis court was used as a circus, a theatre and a venue for miscellaneous exhibitions and entertainments. In January 1822 ‘Senior Christopher Lee Sugg’ practised ventriloquy and conjuring….His programme included ‘a Display of the wandering Sounds, after the Manner, by which, in the Year Anno Domini 1264, Pope Celestinus and Pope Boniface caused great Tumults, the former being frightened out of his Popedom by the latter’s extraordinary Powers of Ventriloquy.’

Of course he was.

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