THIS EVENT HAS TAKEN PLACE
John Rich and the Eighteenth-Century London Stage:
Interdisciplinary Conference 26-27 Jan 2008
Royal College of Surgeons, Lincoln's Inn Fields, London
The very first interdisciplinary conference on the eighteenth-century London Stage, John Rich and the Eighteenth-Century London Stage: Commerce, Magic and Management, was held the weekend of 25-27 January, 2008 at the Royal College of Surgeons in London. Fittingly, for the Royal College of Surgeons was built on the site of the former Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre, where John Rich began his career as impresario. The Society was among the bodies supporting the conference and many of its members were among both delegates and speakers.
The weekend was filled with much exciting new scholarship in the areas of eighteenth-century English music, dance, literature, art, and theatre history, and was attended by around 150 delegates working in different disciplines from the UK, Europe, North America, and New Zealand. The conference began with a welcome from convenors Berta Joncus and Jeremy Barlow, and was followed by a rousing keynote speech by eminent theatre historian Robert D. Hume. Hume made a convincing argument for the importance of the little-studied and frequently misunderstood Rich, deeming him more influential than any other theatrical personality of the eighteenth century, including David Garrick.
Saturday began an extended day of original and thoughtful papers by scholars and historians. Sessions included panels on such subjects as Rich's dances, music, the building of the Covent Garden Theatre, the production of The Beggar's Opera, staging, theatre mechanics, gender issues, the information provided by theatre accounts and the print culture surrounding theatrical life. Different approaches built up to a much broader investigation of topics under discussion and the debate between delegates was lively, even getting quite heated in one session over a spuriously-attributed Hogarth painting of The Beggar's Opera. Highlights also included exciting new manuscript discoveries unearthed by David Hunter (University of Texas at Austin) and Kevin McGinley (Fatih University).
Delegates were then treated on Saturday night to an eighteenth-century-style 'benefit' concert that included the talents of English National Opera tenor Neil Jenkins, musicians from the Royal Academy of Music, Baroque dancers imported from Paris, and seventeen tumblers and acrobats from Circus Space. Sunday morning resumed the series of many original papers and presentations, including a few with live musical examples and dances performed by musicians at the Royal College of Music and Keith McEwing (Victoria University of Wellington), a Baroque dancer from New Zealand. The conference culminated with a specially-led tour of the Garrick Club's collection of theatrical paintings and a second reception, capping off a thought-provoking and enjoyable weekend that will undoubtedly help to stimulate future scholarship in the oft-ignored area of early eighteenth-century theatre.
We look forward to the publication of conference papers which will make them generally available.
General Events Archive
3rd March 2008