It is a truism of theatrical history that the acting of the past always seems less life-like and more mannered than acting in the present day. In an early essay, the title of which I have appropriated, John Harold Wilson claims that tragic acting in the Restoration period must have been unbearably artificial. From his survey of over four hundred plays, together with later eighteenth-century criticism (such as Thomas Wilkes's in my epigraph), Wilson concludes that the "Restoration tragedian tended to bellow his passion at the top of his lungs, to make love in a kind of whine, or cant . . . and to declaim his lines in a cadenced, musical 'heroic tone'".
HELEN TAYLOR BECOMES MISS TREVOR, ACTRESS
by JANET SMITH AND CLAIRE MORRIS STERN
Helen Taylor was born in Shoreditch, London on 27 July 1831, the third child and only daughter of Harriet and John Taylor, a wholesale druggist. Her mother was a member of William Fox's Unitarian political and social reforming circle, where she had met and fallen in love with the economic philosopher John Stuart Mill in 1830. Mill and Harriet Taylor shared an interest in feminism and reform politics and Harriet left her husband for Mill, though the relationship remained discreet. John Taylor sanctioned an arrangement where Helen and her mother lived alone in Walton, Surrey, with Mill a regular visitor. Harriet and Mill withdrew socially and thus, to avoid the constant interest of acquaintances in their living arrangements, often journeyed in Europe. Relations with Helen's biological father remained good and Helen's adolescent diary records happy visits from her father and paternal grandmother.
STAGE PLAYS ON TELEVISION FROM 1946 TO THE 1980s: AN OVERVIEW
by DAVID WARREN
The wide range of productions of stage plays on British television, both in the brief period of BBC television broadcasting before the Second World War, and between the resumption of the television service in 19461 and the 1980s is a neglected aspect of theatre history. However, a University of Westminster project, supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, has created a database of all television drama since 1930 that originated in the theatre.
In the post-war period, on both BBC and commercial television channels, the broad repertoire of such plays gave television audiences exposure to the full spectrum of classical and modern world drama. In some productions surviving in the archives, styles of performance of considerable historical interest (and on occasion important individual performances) have been preserved. Literally thousands of plays originating in the theatre were performed on television during this period.
Theatre History and Historiography: Ethics, Evidence and Truth
Claire Cochrane and Jo Robinson (eds)
What's the Play and Where's the Stage?: A Theatrical Family of the Regency Era
Restoration Staging, 1660-74
London's West End Actresses and the Origins of Celebrity Charity, 1880-1920
TChild Labour in the British Victorian Entertainment Industry: 1875-1914
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30 March 2017