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Supplementary entertainment offered after a full-length play in 18th-century England. A short comedy, farce, or pantomime was presented to lighten the five-act Neoclassical tragedy that was commonly performed. A reduced admission price for latecomers, usually after the third act, enabled less-sophisticated playgoers and working people to see the end of the drama and the one-act afterpiece.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on afterpiece, visit Britannica.com.