The Virtuoso

The virtuoso of the title is Sir Nicholas Gimcrack, who like many after him confuses the extent of a collection with the depth of a science. Sir Gimcrack is fascinated by the geography of the moon, the worlds in his microscope, and the possibilities of human flight.

Play title:  The Virtuoso

Author (s):  Thomas Shadwell

Publisher: The University of Nebraska Press

Publication Date: 1966 (The University of Nebraska Press version)

Genre: Comedy

Primary Discipline: Natural Philosophy

Secondary Discipline: Cosmology

Scientist (s): Fictional

Source Texts: Unknown

Character Breakdown: 8 Men, 8 women, Ensemble

Sir Nicholas Gimcrack, Sir Formal Trifle, Snarl, Sir Samuel Hearty, Longvil, Bruce, Swimming Master, Hazard, Lady Gimcrack, Clardina, Miranda, Mrs. Flirt, Mrs. Figgup, Betty, Bridget, Porter to Sir Nicholas, Ribbon Weavers, Sick and Lame People, Porters, Servants, Masqueraders

Setting: London

Time Period: Varies

Synopsis of Play:

The virtuoso of the title is Sir Nicholas Gimcrack, who like many after him confuses the extent of a collection with the depth of a science. Sir Gimcrack is fascinated by the geography of the moon, the worlds in his microscope, and the possibilities of human flight. More seriously and – for Shadwell’s audience – more comically, his obsession with his arrays of worms and spiders proceeds at the expense of his wife and two beautiful nieces.

The play also introduces Sir Formal Trifle, a pedantic ciceronian orator and coxcomb. His character established thereafter the theatrical type of the know-it-all blowhard. Famous for its wit and high speed changes, The Virtuoso is also a display of the prestige of modern science and the pomposity of its amateurs. (play text cover blurb, The University of Nebraska Press)

First Performance Date: May 25th, 1676

First Producer: Duke’s Company

Performance History: The Virtuoso was produced by the Duke’s Company at Dorset Garden May 25th, 1676. Later, the play was performed professionally at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, March 31st, 1705.

Links:

http://www.ensemblestudiotheatre.org/est-blog/Thomas-Shadwell-satirizes-Robert-Hooke-in-The-Virtuoso-1676-and-the-image-sticks

Entered by: Meaghan Yesford

Photo/Visual Research with citations

Thomas Shadwell

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