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A study of Shakespeare’s Roman plays in the nineteenth century English theatre

Rostron, David (1970) A study of Shakespeare’s Roman plays in the nineteenth century English theatre. Masters thesis, Durham University.



By drawing on prompt copies, newspaper articles, and the memoirs of actors, producers and theatregoers, this study sets out to supply a more detailed stage history of Shakespeare's three Roman plays between 1800 and 1900 than has hitherto been available. The first chapter asserts that there should be a fruitful partnership between the scholar's study and the actor's stage, but demonstrates that this has not always occurred. A sketch is then supplied of the changing conditions of performance in the London theatre of the nineteenth century. The next three chapters discuss every production of Coriolanus, Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra which took place at London and Stratford during this period. Some attempt is incidentally made to explain the rise and fall in popularity of each of these plays, and the relationship of this to the different styles of acting and production favoured by leading actors and by audiences. Prompt copies and acting versions of the plays are examined in some detail, and the stage life of the plays before 1800 and since 1900 is also briefly outlined. A final chapter draws together the threads, and lists some of the points which emerge: among these are the lack of faith in Shakespeare's skill as a dramatist, the actor-managers' need to show a financial profit, the impact on the theatre of prevailing moral climates and political events, the enormous importance of the talents and enthusiasms of leading actors, the influence of the new theatres established after the abolition of the Parent Houses, the increasing importance of dramatic critics, and the metropolitan contempt for Stratford productions. She aim is essentially narrative and descriptive: the study confirms the familiar picture of the nineteenth century stage, but also corrects some errors in, and supplies some omissions from, the standard works on the staging of Shakespeare's plays.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Letters
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:1970
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Mar 2014 16:42

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