Christopher Rich, Drury Lane, English, George Pix, George Powell, Islamic, Jean Chardin, John Harding, London, Mary Pix, plagiarism, playwright, rape, Richard Wilkin, Susanna Verbruggen, Theatre Royal, Turks
Ibrahim, the Thirteenth Emperour of the Turks…
Mary Pix (1666-1709)
London: Printed for John Harding, at the Bible and Anchor in Newport-street, and Richard Wilkin, at the King’s-Head in St. Paul’s Church-Yard, 1696
PR3619 P58 I37 1696
Ibrahim, the first play written by novelist and playwright Mary Pix, was first performed by Christopher Rich’s patent company at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, to good reviews. It was revived several times well into the eighteenth century. Pix drew on Jean Chardin’s (1643-1713) Travels to Persia, 1686, for her depiction of the Islamic world. She captivated English audiences with the sexual mysteries of the Harem. In the first production, Susanna Verbruggen (ca. 1667-1703) played the chief of the Eunuchs.
Pix wrote at least six other plays and five more anonymous plays are attributed to her. Her work often put stronger emphasis on female perspective than was usual for the time. The exotic setting for Ibrahim allowed Pix to explore questions of rape, female power, and the dynamics of resistance to authority. It has two especially strong female characters; one ambitious and manipulative, the other doomed by her virtuousness.
Mary Griffith married George Pix, a merchant tailor, in 1689. She had two sons, George (1689-1690) and William (b. 1691). About six years later, Pix became involved in a plagiarism scandal with George Powell, a rival playwright and theatrical company manager. Pix accused Powell of keeping a manuscript she had sent, reworking and renaming the play as his own. An anonymous writer published a letter attacking Pix for her bad spelling and the audacity to publish her work. In spite of the letter, Pix’s reputation remained stable and she continued to write, but mostly anonymously. It should be noted, however, that authorship was not generally advertised on playbills, nor always given when plays were printed at this time.