Fantasies of Empire
The Empire Theatre of Varieties and the Licensing Controversy of 1894
Publication Year: 2005
Published by: University of Iowa Press
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This book began life as a footnote for another book. Several years ago, I was preparing an annotated edition of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest and needed to find out what Algy Moncrieff had in mind when, toward the end of Act 1, discussing with his friend Jack Worthing what they might do after dinner—the theatre and the club having been...
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One evening in the summer of 1859, a seasoned journalist headed toward Leicester Square to cover the tableaux vivants currently on view at the notorious Cafe du Globe. On assignment from a new weekly journal of town life bearing the ingenuous title Peeping Tom, the reporter was planning a piece that would escort a select group of would-be “swells” on a...
1: Mrs. Chant at the Empire
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Laura Ormiston Chant was moved to visit the Empire Theatre of Varieties because of the unhappy experience there of two American male friends. As she would later explain to the members of the Theatres and Music Halls Committee, earlier in the year her friends had gone to the famous theatre of varieties in Leicester Square with the object, innocent...
2: The Licensing Committee Meets
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On Wednesday morning, 10 October 1894, the Theatres and Music Halls Committee of the London County Council convened in its usual quarters in Spring Gardens, Charing Cross. It had a very full agenda, consisting of the many applications for new license or renewal of license from theatres, music halls, and theatres of variety submitted to it in the previous weeks. Aware of the great publicity that had surfaced concerning the challenge to....
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On Thursday, 11 October, the day after the Theatres and Music Halls Committee had recommended relicensing the Empire Theatre of Varieties, but with restrictions he must have viewed as completely intolerable, George Edwardes gave notice to the London County Council of his intention to appeal the decision.1 Meanwhile, news of the committee’s recommendation was...
4: The Council's Decision & Its Aftermath
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Preparatory to its scheduled meeting on Friday, 26 October, at Spring Gardens for purposes of licensing, the London County Council met in special session three days earlier, with Sir John Hutton in the chair. Eight petitions were presented urging the council not to adopt the recommendation of its Theatres and Music Halls Committee, acting as the licensing...
5: Why They Attacked the Empire
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After weeks of commingled outcry and exultation over the recommendation of the Theatres and Music Halls Committee and its overwhelming endorsement by the London County Council, together with the wearied capitulation of the Empire management to the stipulations linked to its license (which had not yet been delivered), the air itself might well have...
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Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2005
Series Title: Studies Theatre Hist & Culture