E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Playing to the Gods.
Degrading ones vocation ad captandum vulgus. The gods, in theatrical phrase, are the spectators in the uppermost gallery, the ignobile vulgus. The ceiling of Drury Lane theatre was at one time painted in imitation of the sky, with Cupids and other deities here and there represented. As the gallery referred to was near the ceiling, the occupants were called the gods. In French this gallery is nick-named paradis.