This chapter introduces Restoration theatre and Restoration cosmopolitanism, a form of cosmopolitics born out of the newly energized merger of vigorous global ambitions with an intensified striving for sophistication — the convergence, we might say, of the risky and the risqué — and on display on stage. It emerged in the context of two major factors: first, that the monarch and much of the court had spent many years in exile during the civil wars, and second, that during those years they witnessed ways in which the continental monarchs and their courts had enriched themselves through trade, aggression, and plunder in Asia, Africa, and the Americas. The chapter explores Restoration cosmopolitanism as engaged, critiqued, and embodied by the theater, and as a force, like the Enlightenment itself, with profoundly mixed implications. It explains how the book alters standard narratives about Restoration drama by showing how attention to this highly contested cosmopolitanism, which grew out of the period's most intriguing accomplishments and disturbing atrocities, reveals an otherwise elusive consistency among comedy, tragedy, heroic plays, and tragicomedy; disrupts a generally accepted narrative about early capitalism; and offers a fresh perspective on theatrical performances.
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