Thursday, December 17, 2009

O. P. Riots

The OP, or Old Prices riots came about as a result of the burning down of the Covent Garden theater, on September 20, 1808. The theater was rebuilt, reopening a year later with higher ticket prices. At this time, it was illegal to see a Shakespeare production anywhere but Covent Garden or Drury Lane, which theaters held an effective monopoly. The price increase, therefore, severely impacted anyone who wished to see the bard's plays.

The proprietor of Covent Garden was a man named John Kemble. Kemble addressed the price increase when the theater opened:

"Solid our building, heavy our expense;
We rest our claim on your munificence;
What ardour plans a nation's tastes to raise,
A nation's liberality repays."

Kemble's verse failed to appease many theater-goers. A boisterous group of O.P. advocates disrupted all productions once the rebuilt theater began operations. Finally, on December 17th (1809), a Treaty of Peace was framed.

Scott references the O.P. Riots in his "Life of Kemble":

"...A blackguard transaction ought to have its name from the dictionary of the vulgar tongue, and the continued riot raised about the increase of entrance money, which had remained the same for one hundred years, while all the expenses of the theater were increased in a tenfold proportion, became the ground of the O.P. Row, as was called a continuous riot which lasted sixty-six nights..."

No comments:

Post a Comment