George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 16 June 1770]

16. Dined at the Club at Mrs. Campbells and went to the Play in the Evening.

GW today paid 6s. 3d. to a blacksmith and spent 15s. 6d. for tickets and other expenses at the play (General Ledger A description begins General Ledger A, 1750–1772. Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, Series 5, Financial Papers. description ends , folio 318).

The American Company of Comedians had arrived in town from Philadelphia on 13 June and today opened the theater with The Beggar’s Opera and “other entertainments” (Va. Gaz., P&D, 14 June 1770). Written by the English playwright John Gay (1685–1732), The Beggar’s Opera is a burlesque of conventional Italian opera, “a Newgate pastoral, among the whores and thieves there.” It was first performed in 1728 and became one of the most popular plays of the century, being included in the repertoire of almost every English acting company (gay description begins John Gay. The Beggar’s Opera. Edited by Peter Elfed Lewis. Edinburgh, Scotland, 1973. description ends , 1–4).

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