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The Theatre of Shelley

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Jacqueline Mulhallen

Chapter One: The Theatrical Context – the Georgian Theatre in England

Texte intégral

  • 1 SPII, p. 729.

1When Shelley’s play, The Cenci, received its first professional performance in 1922, the theatre for which he wrote it no longer existed. Critical assessment of Shelley’s writing as theatre writing rather than poetry, therefore, has been based on staging and acting styles which were not what he could have had in mind. Stage effects designed for theatres of one period do not necessarily transfer to another since a theatre director presenting a play of an earlier era must adapt and set the text to suit a contemporary understanding if it is not to be the ’dry exhibition’ Shelley dreaded.1 So, before discussing Shelley’s effectiveness in writing for the theatre, it is important to establish what kind of a theatre existed in the late Georgian period (1780-1832) and understand the possibilities and restrictions it offered to a dramatist.

  • 2 Sybil Rosenfeld, The Georgian Theatre of Richmond and its Circuit: Beverley, Harrogate, Kendal, No (...)

2This period, which encompassed Shelley’s short lifetime, was one of exciting changes in the theatre. There were technical innovations in architecture, lighting and scenery; many new theatres were built in London and elsewhere, including Shelley’s home town of Horsham; and there were artistic changes towards a greater realism in scenery design and costume. The theatre was popular and widespread. The theatres of major towns toured to theatres in smaller towns. For example, the theatre at Richmond in Swaledale toured to Beverley, Harrogate, Kendal and Ulverston. The Norwich circuit ’included Yarmouth, Lynn, Bury St Edmund’s [sic], as the principal towns, and other smaller ones as subsidiary to the greater planets […] Swaffham, East Dereham, North Walsham, Eye, &c., were visited’.2

  • 3 Mitford, Works, I, p. viii-ix; Bernard, Retrospections, I, p. 12.
  • 4 The Life of Thomas Holcroft Written by Himself Continued by William Hazlitt (Oxford: Oxford Univer (...)

3There were theatres set up in booths at fairs and groups of strolling players who performed in barns, inns or private houses. The quality of performance provided by these companies should not be dismissed. Mary Russell Mitford describes her enjoyment of them. John Bernard, who worked with them as an actor, tells comic anecdotes about his experiences, but not without sympathy and respect, for example, for their ’clever stage managing’.3 The company of Roger Kemble produced the greatest acting family of the period as well as one of its most influential playwrights, Thomas Holcroft.4

  • 5 Sybil Rosenfeld, ’Jane Austen and Private Theatricals’, Essays and Studies n.s. XV (London: John M (...)
  • 6 Baer, Theatre and Disorder, p. 193; ’On Actors and Acting’, The Selected Writings of William Hazli (...)

4Apart from professional companies there were many amateur societies. ’There were apprentices’ theatricals, military and naval theatricals, children’s and school theatricals, and small theatres in which amateurs could try out their histrionic abilities for a modest fee.’5 Families of the nobility and gentry performed in private theatres and at the public schools. There is evidence that the popularity of the theatre at this period was akin to that of sport today. Most people, regardless of class or occupation or income, would have known enough about the subject for it to be a topic of conversation one could enter into with a complete stranger.6

5Shelley’s interest in technological progress suggests that he would have noticed the radical transformation in the theatre in England, begun in the late 1780s. This can be illustrated by describing some of his theatrical experiences before he left England in 1818.

Richmond, Surrey, 1802

  • 7 Medwin, Life, I, p. 52; Boaden, Mrs. Jordan, II, p. 105.

6According to Shelley’s cousin Medwin, Shelley paid his first visit to the theatre when he and Medwin crossed the river by boat from Syon House School to the Richmond Theatre on the Green and saw Dorothy Jordan, the foremost comedy actress of her generation, in The Country Girl. Shelley left Syon House before 1804, Medwin earlier. Jordan performed at Richmond regularly in the summer from 1789, but Boaden, her biographer, mentions 1802 in particular, a year in which it is possible that all three would have been present. 7

  • 8 David Garrick, The Plays of David Garrick, ed. by H.W. Pedicord and F.W. Bergmann, 8 vols (Carbond (...)

7The great eighteenth-century actor manager, David Garrick, adapted Wycherley’s Restoration comedy, The Country Wife, re-naming it The Country Girl, intending to ’clear one of our most celebrated comedies from immorality and obscenity’. The opinion of the theatre historian, John Genest, was that Garrick had ’removed all the exceptionable parts, but he has in great measure destroyed the vigour of the Original.’8 Restoration comedy and Jacobean plays, including Shakespeare, were seldom performed in their original versions. This censorship of sexual matters was to affect the stageability of The Cenci.

  • 9 Southern, Georgian Playhouse, pp. 30-42, figs 10-14.
  • 10 Richard Southern, ’Theatres and Actors’ in The Revels, p. 65.

8By 1802, The Country Girl was out of date, and the actress, though a star, past her heyday. The theatre, too, was old-fashioned; built in 1765, it was tiny but with the typical features of a larger Georgian theatre. The outside was plain, the inside, simply panelled and painted green. The entry door led to a landing with the pay box and steps to a foyer with access doors to the boxes and pit and separate stairs to the gallery. The pit was the floor of the auditorium, furnished with backless, green baize-covered benches and the boxes ran right around the interior of the auditorium encircling the pit. The number of tiers of boxes depended on the size of the theatre. The theatre at Richmond, Surrey, had a ’creditable tier of Georgian boxes round the little pit, together with upper side boxes and a gallery facing the stage’.9 There were also boxes directly above the proscenium doors through which the actors made their entrances and exits. The stage was raked and the actors largely performed on the forestage, which projected into the auditorium.10

  • 11 Colin Visser, ’Scenery and Theatrical Design’, p. 83; Southern, Georgian Playhouse, pp. 20-24; Fer (...)

9Part of the excitement of going to the theatre was the spectacular effect of seeing one scene replace another as scenery was changed in full view of the audience. Often the scene changed behind the actors, so they were instantly transported to their new location without the delay of entrance and exit. Paired shutters which moved across the stage in grooves met in the middle to form the back scene and when the scene changed they slid back and another pair slid across. It was necessary for ’long’ and ’short’ or ’very short’ scenes, in terms of stage depth, to alternate.11 A large theatre had seven or more grooves but, even at Richmond, Shelley would have seen several scene changes in The Country Girl, for example: Harcourt’s Lodgings (I. i), different parts of the park (III. i and III. ii), Moody’s house (IV. i and IV. ii) and Bellville’s lodging (IV. iii).

  • 12 Sybil Rosenfeld, A Short History of Scene Design in Great Britain (Oxford: Blackwell, 1973), p. 60
  • 13 Colin Visser, ’Scenery and Theatrical Design’ in London Theatre World, p. 85.
  • 14 Kelly, Reminiscences, pp. 246-247.
  • 15 Information from Professor Petr Pirina, Chairman, Český Krumlov Foundation, private conversation a (...)
  • 16 Colin Visser, ’Scenery and Theatrical Design’, p. 84; Southern, Changeable Scenery, p. 256; Rosenf (...)

10The backstage was reserved for the scenery, often painted by wellknown artists.12 For the actors to appear within it would have spoiled the perspective created by a series of graduated wings towards a back scene, although an actor might run, dance, leap through, or otherwise use the scenery for a special effect, as Harlequin did in pantomime, and John Kemble in Sheridan’s Pizzarro (1799).13 It was also used for processions, such as in Colman the Younger’s 1798 melodrama, Bluebeard. Michael Kelly describes the pasteboard horses in the second Act which ’answered every purpose for which they were wanted’, and says, ’The Blue Beard, who rode the elephant in perspective over the mountains, was little Edmund Kean’.14 The most distant part of the procession was created by models moving across the back scene, then small children, representing adults, crossed over between the next grooves, and the principals appeared on the forestage. This technique is preserved in the Český Krumlov theatre, Czech Republic.15 Pieces were added, representing hedges, walls, rocks or bridges, to mask a ramp, a row of lights or a trap, or the scenery was cut out to create layers of trees for ’a cut wood’ or a cavern, which would break up the perspective. Painted cloth drop scenes, on rollers, were also used. Theatres had a repertory of perhaps 100 plays, so scenery was kept in stock and re-used, not designed for every production.16

  • 17 Edward A. Langhans, ’The Theatres’ in London Theatre World, p. 50.
  • 18 Bamber Gascoigne, World Theatre (London: Ebury Press, 1968), p. 248.
  • 19 de Marly, Costume on the Stage, pp. 11-12, 41.

11The stage was candlelit by a central chandelier, a row of footlights and some lights concealed on battens in the wings. The auditorium was fully lit.17 Scenery changes were rapid and easy in comparison with later innovation. The box set replaced the earlier system of wings and flats, but it requires a much longer and more complicated mechanical operation and was not completely introduced until 1881.18 The actor together with the scenery then formed a brightly lit picture placed behind a proscenium arch at a distance from an audience sitting in darkness, the forestage no longer used. The stage picture when Shelley was going to the theatre differed since the size of the eighteenth-century theatre, the position of the stage and the lighting laid the emphasis on the actor and created an intimacy between actor and audience. Actors wore their own clothes or were given them by rich patrons, with the exception of some leading Shakespearean characters in period costume, and concessions to the Orient made by turbans or to classical times by Roman-style armour.19 George Romney painted Jordan as Peggy in The Country Girl, hair flowing, in a white dress with sash and large straw hat. Costume in general was that of the day, especially for a comedy.

  • 20 Hazlitt, III, p. 83; Boaden, Mrs. Jordan, I, pp. 71, 28, 19.
  • 21 Boaden, Mrs. Jordan, I, pp. 139, 347, 72, 55, 70-71.
  • 22 James Henry Leigh Hunt, Critical Essays on the Performers of the London Theatres (London: [n. pub. (...)
  • 23 Plays of David Garrick, VII, p. 236; Boaden, Mrs. Jordan, I, p. 72.

12In a century which had produced Garrick and other great and stillremembered talents, Jordan, who ’burst upon the Metropolis’ with ’elastic spring’ in 1785, was one of the greatest. ’Nature had formed her in her most prodigal humour’, said Hazlitt. She had ’unbounded humour and unaffected sensibility’ and her voice was ’a cordial to the heart’.20 Versatile enough to play both Rosalind and Angela in The Castle Spectre but, having a figure ’made to assume the male attire’, she was most popular in the roles where this was required, such as Peggy in The Country Girl. Her success was not merely because of her beauty, but also because she ’infused herself more completely’ into a character’ than any other actress. ’The great mistress of comic utterance’,21 she had a natural and hearty laugh which did not finish on cue but, as Hunt said, ’when you expect it no longer according to the usual habit of the stage, it sparkles forth at little intervals […] this is the laughter of the feelings.’22 In the letter scene (The Country Girl, IV. ii), ’the very pen and ink were made to express the rustic petulance of the writer of the first epistle and the eager delight that composed the second’. It is clear from this that Jordan was able to physicalise her character’s emotions, that is to express them through her physical actions.23

Changes to the London theatres

  • 24 Rosenfeld, Georgian Scene Painters, p. 92; Leacroft, English Playhouse, pp. 139, 155, 166-167, 170 (...)

13In the 1790s, Drury Lane and Covent Garden were respectively rebuilt and renovated to accommodate an audience of approximately 3,000 each. However, they retained many features in common with the Richmond theatre. Even when they both burnt down, Covent Garden in 1808 and Drury Lane in 1809, they were rebuilt to a similar plan; in the 1808 Covent Garden the forestage still projected 12.3 ft from the curtain line. In 1812 ’commercial aspects’ required the neo-classical architect, Benjamin Wyatt, to design the new Drury Lane with increased auditorium capacity. To reduce the size of the forestage he designed a picture-frame stage, the artistic grounds being that the actor could ’appear (as he certainly should do) among the scenery’. But Wyatt omitted the proscenium doors and put bronze lamps in their place, which was not a success: the actors refused to remain behind the ’frame’, the lamps were always being blown out and the doors were restored after the first season (1812/1813).24

  • 25 Qtd in A. Langhans, ’The Theatres’ in London Theatre World, pp. 53-54.
  • 26 Stabler, From Burke to Byron, p. 53.
  • 27 Colin Blumenau, Director, Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, speaking at the congress of Perspectiv, (...)
  • 28 Alan S. Downer, ’Players and the Painted Stage’, PMLA, 61 (1946), 522-570, (529-530, 529n); Leacro (...)
  • 29 Michael Booth, ’The Theatre and its Audience’ in The Revels, pp. 21-22; Donohue, Theatre in the Ag (...)

14While such writers as Torrington and Richard Cumberland regretted the inevitable loss of intimacy between actor and audience, feeling that the skills of Garrick would be neither seen nor heard in the larger theatres, 25 they were comparing the size with the smaller theatres they had superseded. It is unwise to judge by the numbers they held, as Jane Stabler does, that they were ’more than three times the size of the largest venue at the Royal National Theatre today.’26 Theatres were not subject to modern health and safety regulations; the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds was licensed for 780 in 1819, but the same space may now hold only 350.27 Contemporary prints show the gallery and pit crammed with people. Crowds of people tend to muffle the sound of actors’ voices, but, during this period, sound was not lost in a flying tower above the stage, since there was none, or behind the proscenium arch, since the actors played on the forestage, although contemporary comment suggests that they had to make an effort for their voices to reach the gallery.28 The encircling auditorium was a more intimate space and provided a warmer atmosphere before it was broken up by division into stalls, circle and upper circle and entrances at the rear in the mid-nineteenth century. The actors were not separated from the audience but performed in the same physical space. As Donohue points out, an audience in which members can see each other is ’one very much aware of itself and more easily inclined towards generally vocal behaviour’.29 The actor required a strong presence and rapport with the audience in order to keep their attention.

  • 30 Rosenfeld, Georgian Scene Painters, pp. 51-55, 63, 93; Scene Design, pp. 77, 91, 88, 103; qtd in R (...)

15During the late eighteenth century, scenery and lighting techniques developed. The popular pantomime required frequent and smooth trick scenery changes for spectacular and magical effects such as trees growing out of rocks, burning palaces which collapsed, earthquakes, thunder and lightning. There was a particular taste for erupting volcanoes. Freestanding pieces of scenery had become more common, allowing actors to peep through windows and open doors, climb mountains and shelter in arbours. Hinged flaps enabled Harlequin to leap through windows and ceilings. The scenery room produced mountains and torrents, oriental temples and palaces, Gothic abbeys, gardens, ballrooms, illuminated cities, frozen Arctic regions and burning forests. Waves were turned on spindles and mechanical soldiers marched across the stage, which ’was adapted for scenic processions leaving an extraordinary depth in the rear, as likewise large spaces on the sides’.30

  • 31 Illustration to Richard III, A Tragedy, in Five Acts by W. Shakspeare (London: T. Dolby, 1824).

16Sunsets could be created by gradually changing lights behind coloured glass or silk. Gauze could be used for mists or the appearance of a ghost, as can be seen by an illustration for Richard III.31

1.’Richard III’, engraving by John White from a drawing taken in the theatre by Mr. R. Cruikshank, c. 1824, from Cumberland’s British Theatre, private collection.

  • 32 Harlequin and Humpo in Cox and Gamer, Broadview Anthology, p. 209.
  • 33 Rosenfeld, Georgian Scene Painters, pp. 61-62, 120; Colin Visser, ’Scenery and Theatrical Design’, (...)

17Transparencies, a linen or calico drop painted with transparent dyes which ’could be lit from the front to produce an opaque effect or from behind to give a transparency or vary the image’ were used, as, for example, in the pantomime of Harlequin and Humpo (Drury Lane, 1812).32 ’Burning towns’ and ’hell scenes with flames’, were commonly used effects, normally achieved by dropping a painted transparency, the main scenery kept throughout the act. The noise of thunder was technically created by running balls down ’the thunder run’, a wooden trough, while the sound of wind was made by ’a piece of silk held taut by a weight stretched over a revolving drum with wooden teeth which scraped against the silk’. Bird song was created with off-stage pipes.33

  • 34 Colin Visser, ’Scenery and Theatrical Design’, p. 116; Gösta Bergman, Lighting in the Theatre (Tot (...)
  • 35 Rosenfeld, Scene Design, pp. 97-99.

18When the Argand lamp, a powerful oil lamp equivalent to the light of 10 candles, was adopted at Drury Lane in 1784, the centre of the stage was well illuminated, allowing actors more freedom of movement.34 John Kemble encouraged accuracy in scene painting, closely collaborating with the scene painter, William Capon, who ’reproduced remains of actual buildings with meticulous care’.35 For the oratorio which opened the new Drury Lane in 1794, Capon built a huge chapel with illuminated stained-glass windows and borders carved like a fretted roof. For Baillie’s De Monfort:

  • 36 Thomas Campbell, Mrs. Siddons, p. 252.

Capon painted a very unusual pile of scenery, representing a church of the fourteenth century, with its nave, choir, and side aisles, magnificently decorated, and consisting of 7 planes in succession. In width this extraordinary elevation was about 56 ft. 52 in depth, and 37 in height. It was positively a building.36

  • 37 Rosenfeld, Georgian Scene Painters, p. 38.
  • 38 Rosenfeld, Scene Design, p. 98.

19It had ’practicable side ailes [aisles], and an entrance into a choir’.37 Kemble also began to introduce authenticity in costume.38

  • 39 Bruce Carr, ’Theatre Music 1800-1834’ in Music in Britain: The Romantic Age, 1800-1914, ed. by Nic (...)
  • 40 Roger Fiske, English Theatre Music in the Eighteenth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 198 (...)
  • 41 ’…four principal painters constantly employed, exclusive of accessory principals, colour grinders, (...)
  • 42 Kelly, Reminiscences, p. 247n.
  • 43 Cox and Gamer, Broadview Anthology, p. 76.

20As ’hardly a theatrical production of any type was put on in London without including some music’,39 Drury Lane and Covent Garden employed a full orchestra and ballet company. Roger Fiske remarks that Macbeth was never performed without Leveridge’s music, and that ’when Shelley as a boy at Eton was ’singing with buoyant cheerfulness in which he often indulged, as he might be running nimbly up and down stairs, the Witches’ Songs in Macbeth’ these were composed by Matthew Locke.40 There was a numerous backstage staff: from orchestra, chorus and ballet masters to wardrobe, scene painters and property men as well as carpenters and machinists.41 The results of their work were so good that when Sheridan joked that, for Bluebeard, he ought to send for a real elephant from ’the ’Change’, the machinist replied that he ’would be ashamed not to make a better’.42 Real horses were indeed used when Bluebeard was revived in 1811 in imitation of the popular ’hippodrama’ of Astley’s, and for other extravaganzas such as Timour the Tartar.43

2. ’Macbeth’, engraving by John White from a drawing taken in the theatre by Mr. R. Cruikshank, c. 1824, from Cumberland’s British Theatre, private collection.

  • 44 Shelley was to meet Lewis in 1816, and the ’mysteries of his trade’ Shelley refers to may have bee (...)
  • 45 Thomas Morton, Columbus (London: W. Miller, 1792), p. 35.
  • 46 M.G. Lewis, The Castle Spectre (London: J. Bell, 1798), II.i., IV.ii, pp. 24, 79; also see Fiske’s (...)
  • 47 Southern, Changeable Scenery, p. 307. I believe that this scenery has not previously been identifi (...)

21The new resources were seized upon by the younger dramatists such as Thomas Morton, George Colman the Younger and M.G. Lewis.44 These playwrights used the scenery and lighting effects to move on the action of their plays. In Columbus (III. v), Morton used the scenic device of an earthquake and falling masonry to bring about a meeting of the lovers.45 Lewis, in The Castle Spectre, created a Gothic atmosphere with such settings as a Cedar Room and an Armoury with folding doors opening to reveal the ghost, enhanced by music selected by Michael Kelly, resident composer at Drury Lane.46 When these popular plays were performed in provincial theatres with fewer resources, the scenery was adapted. An inventory of early nineteenth-century scenery includes a drop of a ’Cedar Room’ with an ’Armoury’ on the reverse, presumably intended for The Castle Spectre.47

Playwrights and censorship

  • 48 Sutcliffe, Plays by Colman and Morton, pp. 15, 11, 5; E.P. Thompson, qtd in Baer, p. 66.

22The new plays, with their scenes of excitement, terror and pathos, were not easily categorised into comedy and tragedy, and with Holcroft’s adaptation from the French, A Tale of Mystery (1802), a new category arose which, because of the music which accompanied it, became known as melodrama. The form subsequently changed greatly. Traditionally, a playwright had been obliged to depend on a benefit on the third night but the fee which the playwright received at Covent Garden and the Haymarket greatly exceeded what might have been expected from that. It was therefore not surprising that poets such as Coleridge and Keats wished to write for the theatre since it was rewarding financially. This may also have been a motivation for Shelley but another was the possibility of reaching a wide audience. With the increased size of the theatres, a greater cross-section of the London population was able to visit the theatre. Plays such as Colman’s Inkle and Yarico (1787) or Morton’s Speed the Plough (1800) expressed anti-tyranny or anti-slavery views which allowed the urban working class to respond to the ’new rhetoric of radical egalitarianism’. Playwrights were obliged, however, to avoid the strict censorship by balancing these sentiments with patriotic lines and having their villains repent and be forgiven. Holcroft and Inchbald, both radicals, were no longer writing after 1800.48

  • 49 Dewey Ganzel, ’Patent Wrongs and Patent Theatres: Drama and the Law in the Early 19th Century’, PM (...)
  • 50 Nicoll, p. 17; Jeffrey N. Cox, ’Baillie Siddons Larpent: Gender, Power and Politics’ in Burroughs, (...)
  • 51 Ganzel, ’Patent Wrongs’, p. 393; Sutcliffe, Plays by Colman and Morton, p. 13.
  • 52 Dominic Shellard & Steve Nicholson with Miriam Handley, The Lord Chamberlain Regrets: A History of (...)

23All plays had to be submitted to the Examiner of Plays as they were to be performed with alterations made by the theatre. Dewey Ganzel has discussed the powers of the Examiner of Plays to censor statements regarded as anti-religious or politically dangerous in plays and the absurd lengths to which this censorship was taken.49 Cox, building on the work of Nicoll, has shown how John Larpent, the Examiner during Shelley’s lifetime, allowed his wife to gradually take over his work; both censored plays in accordance with their own religious prejudices.50 According to Ganzel, Larpent’s successor in 1824, the playwright, Colman the Younger, would not allow God to be mentioned at all or even, as Sutcliffe explains, the word ’thighs’.51 Although Colman was not Examiner while Shelley was alive, he ensured that Mitford’s Charles the First did not receive a licence, so his attitude to that play is important in considering Shelley’s work.52

3. ’Bernard Blackmantle reading his play in the Green Room of Covent Garden Theatre’, drawn and engraved by R. Cruikshank, 10 June 1824, from The English Spy (1825). Private collection.

  • 53 Donohue, Theatre in the Age of Kean, pp. 10-11.
  • 54 Ibid., p. 50.

24The jealousy with which the ’major’ theatres, or Theatres Royal, Covent Garden and Drury Lane, regarded their monopoly, the patents which had been originally granted them by Charles II, has been well documented by Sutcliffe, Donohue and, more recently, Worrall. Under the 1737 Licensing Act, the only theatres in London to perform spoken drama were the ’patent’ or ’legitimate’ theatres, and the Little Theatre in the Haymarket in the summer only.53 The ’minor’ or ’illegitimate’ theatres which opened in the late eighteenth century were permitted to present programmes of song, dance, acrobatics, clowning or pantomime, equestrian entertainments and burletta, originally a light musical play with mime and dialogue displayed on banners.54 Theatres on the South Bank, such as the Coburg, later Victoria, now ’Old Vic’, and the Surrey, were outside London in 1737; they did not have to submit their scripts to the Examiner but they had to be licensed by a magistrate. Although they were not licensed to perform plays, they began to interpret the term ’burletta’ more broadly until it was hardly distinguishable from ’play’. ’Melodrama’, a recent theatrical innovation with musical accompaniment, had not yet become the Victorian theatre style associated with it today.

The ’minor’ theatres

  • 55 Rosenfeld, Georgian Scene Painters, pp. 115, 127-129.
  • 56 Dibdin, Reminiscences, I, p. 420, II, pp. 52, 108.
  • 57 Dennis Arundell, The Story of Sadler’s Wells (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1965), p. 92.

25The talent at the minor theatres was not inferior to that of the patent theatres: all employed the same musicians, writers and managers. Despite suggesting that scene painting at the minors was second-rate, Rosenfeld tells us that painters such as Clarkson Stanfield, David Roberts and Charles Tomkins worked at several minor theatres.55 Thomas Dibdin, sometimes concurrently, managed both the Surrey and Drury Lane and wrote for Covent Garden.56 Joseph Grimaldi, the most famous clown in English history, was employed by Sadler’s Wells – and later became proprietor – before working at Drury Lane.57

  • 58 Donohue, Theatre in the Age of Kean, p. 157.
  • 59 Booth, ’Public Taste, the Playwright and the Law’ in The Revels, p. 31; Arundell, Sadler’s Wells, (...)
  • 60 Arundell, Sadler’s Wells, pp. 72, 98. 139 Ibid., pp. 96, 89; Moody, Illegitimate Theatre, p. 36; D (...)
  • 61 Ibid., pp. 96, 89; Moody, Illegitimate Theatre, p. 36; Donohue, Theatre in the Age of Kean, pp. 46 (...)
  • 62 Donohue, Theatre in the Age of Kean, p. 34.

26The ’minors’, like the patent theatres, had a cross-section of the population for their audience. In 1832, G.B. Davidge, manager of the Coburg, was to claim that his audience included the working class on Monday, ’the better classes’ later in the week, ’even the nobility, most of the royal family’ while D.E. Morris, proprietor of the Haymarket, said, ’There are persons of good condition visiting those minor theatres’.58 The minor theatres often anticipated the patent theatres in stage effects and ideas. As Sadler’s Wells did not have to submit a script to the Examiner of Plays, it produced a version of the fall of the Bastille based on eyewitness reports, while Drury Lane’s play on the same theme was turned down. The 1794 Drury Lane used waterfalls and lakes on the stage to publicise the two tanks in its roof for firefighting, and was the first to introduce water drama in The Caravan with a ’REAL DOG’ which dived into a tank to save a ’child’ from drowning.59 At Sadler’s Wells, however, under the management of Thomas Dibdin’s brother Charles, the Younger, a pipe was connected to the New River and spectacular naval battle scenes and horse fights in the water were staged.60 The Dibdins began to evade the ban on spoken word plays by producing ’burletta’ versions of favourites such as Macbeth or Douglas, set to music, which were so successful that at the run of Thomas Dibdin’s version of The Heart of Midlothian at the Surrey ’carriages of the first nobility graced the road in nightly lines, sometimes double’.61 Although these productions showed the weakness of the law, it was not repealed until 1843, and meanwhile the patent theatres had the advantage. Donohue considers that by 1800 they provided the same variety as was available at the minor theatres, as well as all the great plays of the past and present.62

Private theatres

  • 63 Worrall, Theatric Revolution, pp. 263, 250-251, 258.
  • 64 E. Stirling, Old Drury Lane, 2 vols (London: Chatto & Windus, 1881), I, p. 6.
  • 65 143 A Biographical Dictionary of Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Dancers, Managers and Other Stage P (...)
  • 66 Hall & Macintosh, Greek Tragedy, pp. 239-240.
  • 67 Earl, ’The Rotunda’, p. 87n.; Bratton, New Readings, pp. 48-49.
  • 68 McCalman, Radical Underworld, pp. 90, 276n., 17, 189.
  • 69 Wolfe, I, p. 197; Stephen C. Behrendt, Shelley and His Audiences (Lincoln: University of Nebraska (...)

27In addition to the major and minor theatres, the period boasted ’private’ theatres such as the Catherine Street, Berwick Street and Rawstone Place theatres, where both ’political speechmaking’ and acting took place. Worrall suggests the links these ’spouting clubs’ had with the world of radical politics, but his description of them as ’rough’, ’dubious’, and ’strongly associated with crime’ may not be universally applicable. Of necessity, as Worrall points out, their ’twilight world of legality’ makes their activities difficult to recover.63 Edward Stirling described the last-named, the ’Thespian Temple in Rawstorne street, Goswell Road [where] we paid to act 17/- for the privilege of enacting an innocent ostler, wrongfully accused of murder’.64 Many other actors, such as Charles Lee Lewes, began successful careers in similar venues.65 The Tottenham Street Theatre, later the West London, was well-respected and was to put on Oedipus Tyrannus in 1821.Irn66 By the late 1820s private theatres, ’free and easies’ and singing clubs were putting on plays which attracted similar groups to those attending Deist chapels; it is not certain that this happened in Shelley’s lifetime.67 The usual choice for performance appears to have been a popular piece such as The Wheel of Fortune, Who Wants a Guinea or Othello, but Stirling’s account suggests that new material was also performed. It is possible that Shelley had some knowledge of these theatres, as he knew some of the Spencean radicals. Extracts from Queen Mab were published in Thomas Cannon’s Theological Inquirer and read aloud at Deist chapels, although McCalman believes it unlikely that Shelley attended these meetings.68 He is recorded as having visited the British Forum, a ’spouting club’, at the Crown and Anchor in 1811 but this appears to have been a debating society only. He recommended the tavern as a meeting place for reformers in 1817. Its respectability is suggested as, in the same year, Hazlitt held his lectures on the living poets there, while in 1798 the famous Whig orator, Charles Fox, chose it to hold his birthday party.69

Aristocratic amateur theatres

  • 70 Rosenfeld, Temples of Thespis, pp. 16, 111,163, 145, 36, 79, 74; Kelly, Reminiscences, pp. 315-316
  • 71 Rosenfeld, ’Jane Austen’, p. 45; Rosenfeld, Temples of Thespis, pp. 39, 32-33, 20, 28, 163, 122-12 (...)

28Amateur theatricals being popular among all classes, some of the richer aristocracy built large theatres in their grounds, while others converted part of their house or took over a barn, orangery or drawing room for their theatricals. Although not a commercial venture, they issued tickets and had sometimes quite large audiences of relatives, friends, local dignitaries, tenants and servants. Well-known theatres were at Wargrave, Woburn Abbey and Little Dalby Hall, and Richard, Earl of Barrymore and Lord Derby were accounted very good actors. Professionals, including George Colman the Elder at Wynnstay in 1779, Priscilla Kemble at Bentley Priory and Elizabeth Farren at Richmond House, were called in to coach them, and sometimes professional scene painters such as ’the celebrated Loutherbourg’ painted the scenery. Michael Kelly described the annual theatricals at Lord Guilford’s in 1811 in which he and the Kembles took part with the Earl, his family and guests.70 The amateurs could be counted on to provide sumptuous costumes, although sometimes the expense of mounting the plays ended in financial disaster. Popular plays were The Beaux’ Stratagem and The Rivals. It was thought that taking part in private theatricals encouraged young gentlemen to be good orators; Fox had taken part in amateur theatricals as a child.71 Although there is no record of

  • 72 SCII, pp. 568, 595, 597.

29Shelley taking part in them, his cousins, the Groves, did.72

The audience

  • 73 Wyndham, Covent Garden, I, p. 330; Baer, Theatre and Disorder, pp. 84-85, 61, 115.

30After Covent Garden was destroyed by fire in 1808, it was very quickly rebuilt, and re-opened in October 1809. John Kemble, now the manager, sought to pass some of the costs of the rebuilding on to the audience, doubling the price of the gallery seats and taking more space for expensive private boxes. The Old Price riots were a well-organised response to this price rise by the radical working and artisan class. There was little personal violence or destruction of property, but the rioters, the OPs, were determined not to allow the play to proceed and prevented it by singing, dancing and using the so-called OP rattle. Their cause attracted a great deal of sympathy and eventually Kemble was obliged to concede. Unlike the riots initiated by the aristocratic Mohawks in the eighteenth century, these differed, as Baer remarks, in being social protest rather than criminality. Shelley could not have failed to know about them, as they were in the news constantly at the time, but he may not have heard the radical point of view until he met Leigh Hunt, who supported the OPs, and Francis Place, the radical reformer, who was one of their leaders.73

  • 74 Davies, ’Playwrights and Plays’ in The Revels, p. 193.
  • 75 Baer, Theatre and Disorder, pp. 167-168, 172; Donohue, Theatre in the Age of Kean, p. 17; Sutcliff (...)
  • 76 Baer, Theatre and Disorder, pp. 141, 183; and see Stirling, Old Drury Lane, I, p. 77-78, for playi (...)
  • 77 Charles Lamb, Old China, in The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb, ed. by E.V. Lucas, 3 vols (London: (...)
  • 78 Baer, Theatre and Disorder, p. 33.
  • 79 Donohue, Theatre in the Age of Kean, p. 172.
  • 80 Behrendt, Shelley and His Audiences, p. 2.

31Davies asks, ’What had a Byron, a Shelley, even a Scott, to say to an audience of which an important part might be made up of coal heavers, sweated milliners and semptresses, costermongers, rat-catchers, dolls’ 1eye-makers, dog stealers’. However, he draws this audience from Henry Mayhew’s London Labour and the London Poor (1864), written after Shelley’s death and after the monopoly of the patent theatres had been broken in 1843.74 The audience of Shelley’s day were a cross-section of society with average nightly attendance of 1500 which, despite tastes changing in the direction of the minor theatres and the Italian opera, remained constant.75 Although the poorest of Londoners would not have been able to go to the Theatres Royal, cutlers, joiners, saddlers, shoemakers, knife grinders, hairdressers, apprentices, clerks and labourers could afford the shilling for the gallery. There was a considerable working-class audience for theatre, especially for Shakespeare,76 and Charles Lamb’s essay, Old China, suggests that people of taste could be found in the gallery.77 It appears that the OPs considered themselves to be better lovers of drama than the wealthy patrons of the private boxes, since one of their main objections was that the occupants of these used them for assignations rather than for watching the play.78 Donohue believes that Shelley could not write an ’effective tragedy aimed at an audience for whom he feels nothing other than dislike and mistrust’, but there is no evidence that this was Shelley’s attitude.79 Moreover, Stephen Behrendt has described Shelley’s ability to write for different audiences, citing The Cenci as one example.80

  • 81 Donohue, Theatre in the Age of Kean, pp. 154-155.
  • 82 Charles Inigo Jones, Memoirs of Miss O’Neill (London: D. Cox, 1816), p. 91.
  • 83 Somerset Maugham, Introduction to Raymond Mander and Joe Mitchenson, The Artist and the Theatre (L (...)
  • 84 Elizabeth Inchbald, ’Remarks’ on De Montfort in The British Theatre, XXIV. Despite Baillie’s origi (...)

32The early nineteenth-century audiences were not decorous and silent, but lively and vociferous, and reacted by weeping, cheering and hissing. At times they fought each other and threw things on the stage, and gallerygoers were ’never too inhibited to call out for what pleased them most’.81 Reactions were usually spontaneous, although plays were sometimes hissed off stage as part of a plan by rival players or managers, but reports of the audience show that their criticism of acting was quite sophisticated.82 A lack of inhibition in response is not indicative of an inability to appreciate good drama. Cave suggests that the ’prevailing theatrical taste [was] popularist and subsequently indifferent towards attempts to create new forms of tragedy,’ but his comparisons of the relative success of Byron’s Marino Faliero or Werner with Moncrieff’s Tom and Jerry and Jerrold’s Black Ey’d Susan more properly shows that there was as much room then for both these types of drama as there was in the twentieth century for that of Beckett and Pinter and the musicals of Rodgers and Hammerstein. As Somerset Maugham remarked, ’Hazlitt would not have troubled to write now and then a careful analysis of a popular actor’s performance in a wellknown play if he had not been assured that this subject was of concern to his readers’.83 Inchbald’s analysis of Baillie’s De Monfort, shows that she expected attention and an intelligent reaction from members of the audience since she speaks of ’the most attentive auditor, [who] whilst he plainly beholds effects, asks after causes’.84

  • 85 Gaull, English Romanticism, p. 104.
  • 86 Lucas, Works of Charles and Mary Lamb, pp. 132-141, 141-147, 163-165.
  • 87 Moody, Illegitimate Theatre, p. 151.
  • 88 Gaull, English Romanticism, pp. 81-83.

33The received idea that, for the foremost critics of the Romantic period, reading plays was more satisfying than theatrical experience is evident in Gaull’s statement that ’Coleridge, Hazlitt, Hunt, Lamb and other critics further enriched the reading experience with lectures and essays that dealt with text rather than performance’ and her implication that this preference for text was compounded by ’the discomfort of the theaters, the vulgarity of the audiences, or the criminal element that surrounded the theaters’.85 Hazlitt and Hunt were professional theatre critics who both wrote with great understanding of the art of acting and Coleridge, who attended the theatre regularly from Highgate, wrote a successful tragedy, Remorse. Their lectures were for a theatre-loving audience. Lamb shows nostalgia for the theatre of his youth in his essays On Some of the Old Actors, On the Artificial Comedy of the Last Century and Stage Illusion, but it is clear that he had a deep love of theatre and actors.86 Furthermore, the theatres were comfortable, as Moody points out.87 Gaull herself also remarks that, ’to the vast contemporary audiences of all ages, classes, and intellectual achievement, the theater was […] interesting enough to justify 160 newspapers, magazines, and journals devoted exclusively to the theater between 1800 and 1830, and in 1825, 29 daily theatrical periodicals’.88 It is unlikely that this interest could have been aroused if it was as impossible to hear or see as she states.

  • 89 Ibid., p. 104.

34Gaull suggests that the existence of popular editions of plays shows that audiences preferred to read rather than see plays, but those she refers to were published after the plays had been performed from the text used by the theatre with contemporary cast lists.89 Two other editions, Dolby’s British Theatre and those of John Cumberland, were advertised as being ’printed under the authority of the managers from the prompt book with an authentic description of the costume and the general stage business’ and with engravings ’from original drawings made in the theatre’ often by I.R. Cruikshank. The details given for the costumes is typified by the following description of the Duke’s costume for The Honeymoon:

1st. Crimson velvet circular cloak white satin doublet and breeches, faced with crimson velvet, and embroidered with gold; white silk tights; black shoes; black beaver hat, white and red feathers. – 2nd Dark velvet jacket and breeches, ornamented with small white buttons; brown leather gaiters; shoes; sombrero. – 3rd. Same as 1st, with coronet of gold and jewels, and state robe.

  • 90 Tobin, The Honeymoon (London: Samuel French, with ’Remarks’ by D-G [George Daniel] [1827(?)]), tit (...)

35Furthermore, the time was given: ’Time in performance, Two Hours and Fifteen Minutes; When played in Three Acts, one hour and Forty Minutes.’90

  • 91 Julian Charles Young, ’Others and Mrs. Siddons’, in Specimens of English Dramatic Criticism, XVII- (...)
  • 92 MWSJ, pp. 662, 632, 193; Gisborne & Williams, p. 145.

36Such details were not for those preferring to read rather than to see a play, but for amateur performers or readers with a knowledge of performance who would read a play before going to see it, as Julian Charles Young suggests they do.91 Shelley also read plays which he later saw, such as Fazio and Rosmunda.92 This interest in both reading and seeing plays accounts for the fact that a play successful with the reading public could transfer to the stage and that plays successful on stage were published.

The actors

  • 93 Michael Booth, ’The Theatre and its Audience’ in The Revels, p. 8.
  • 94 Donohue, Theatre in the Age of Kean, pp. 62-64.
  • 95 Alan S. Downer, ’Nature to Advantage Dressed: Eighteenth Century Acting’, PMLA 58 (1943), 1002-103 (...)
  • 96 Boaden, Mrs. Siddons, II, p. 388.
  • 97 Macready, Reminiscences, I, p. 136.
  • 98 ’Desultory Reminiscences of Miss O’Neil’ Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, XXVII (1832), qtd in Down (...)

37This was ’a century of great and individual acting’.93 Donohue describes the audience going to see a play in order to compare different actors in famous roles, although ’it was expected, of course, that the entire play would be well cast and that a good deal of ensemble playing would happily coexist with a somewhat greater emphasis on leading roles.’ There was no director though the prompter would rehearse the actors in the few rehearsals there were. ’It was left to the performer to introduce new shade of meaning or even an entirely new concept of the role by means of changes of vocal inflection, pauses, gesture, movement – ”business” in general’.94 The techniques used to achieve a performance differed from those used since the nineteenth century. The study of sculpture was recommended to actors to create an attractive picture on stage.95 Siddons, for example, ’arose and placed herself in the attitude of one of the old Egyptian statues’;96 her brother, John Philip Kemble’s ’attitudes were stately and picturesque, but evidently prepared; even the care he took in the disposition of his mantle was distinctly observable’;97 and Eliza O’Neill’s ’attitudes might have afforded a gallery of statues for the court of Virtue’.98 This skill was, however, seen only as a part of the training which an actor should undertake and not more important than the power of the actor to represent the character he was playing and the audience’s response to this.

  • 99 Boaden, Mrs. Siddons, II, pp. 144, 133; I, pp. 317, 327.
  • 100 Hunt, Critical Essays, p. 20.

38Boaden particularly stresses this aspect while acknowledging Siddons’s mastery of gesture. It is clear from what he says of the sleepwalking scene (Macbeth, V. i) that her movements were made not for their own sake but for a truthful portrait. ’She laded the water from the imaginary ewer over her hands – bent her body to listen to the sounds presented by her fancy, and hurried to resume the taper where she had left it’. Boaden also remarks on her energy and its effect on the audience: ’the amazing burst of energy upon the words ”shalt be”’ (I. v. 16) which ’perfectly electrified the house’; the ’triumphant hurry and enjoyment in her scorn, which the audience caught as electrical, and applauded in rapture for at least a minute’ in The Grecian Daughter. He contrasts her performance with that of Mrs. Yates, whose beauty he compares to a Greek statue, but who ’had but little expression to animate a form and countenance almost as perfect’. Siddons’s acting had so much power that ’the sobs, the shrieks, among the tenderer part of her audiences; or those tears, which manhood at first struggled to suppress, but at length grew proud of indulging’ were something impossible ’I should ever forget!’99 Her gestures did not appear artificial to Hunt, who said, ’one can hardly imagine there has been any such thing as a rehearsal for powers so natural and so spirited’.100

39The acting of the company as a whole was also of a high standard. In March 1812, Julius Caesar filled Covent Garden twice a week. The whole male cast were costumed in white togas, in which it might be difficult to distinguish individual actors. In Julian Charles Young’s description, he suggests not only that their acting would have allowed Shakespeare’s characters to be recognised, but that theatre-goers also read the plays they were to see:

  • 101 Leigh Hunt’s Dramatic Criticism 1808-1832, ed. by L.J. and C.W. Houtchens (New York: Columbia Univ (...)

any intelligent observer, though he had never entered the walls of a theatre before, if he had but studied the play in his closet, would have had no difficulty in recognizing in the calm, cold, self-contained, stoical dignity of John Kemble’s walk, the very ideal of Marcus Brutus; or in the pale, wan, austere, ’lean and hungry look’ of Young, and in his quick and nervous pace, the irritability and nervous impetuosity of Caius Cassius; or in the handsome, joyous face and graceful tread of Charles Kemble – his pliant body bending forward in courtly adulation of ’Great Caesar’ – Mark Antony himself; while Fawcett’s sour, sarcastic countenance would not more aptly pourtray ’quickmettled Casca’, than his abrupt and hasty stamp upon the ground when Brutus asked him ’What had chanced that Caesar was so sad?’101

  • 102 See, e.g., the cast lists for Lovers’ Vows by Elizabeth Inchbald (Dublin: Thomas Burnside, 1798) a (...)

40Young’s description shows that these actors fully embodied the characters they played and were valued for it. Cast lists of Drury Lane or Covent Garden productions show a tendency to cast to type in the similarity of role offered to, say, Mary Ann Davenport or Henry Johnston, but the ability to play against type was also highly valued.102 Tate Wilkinson, the manager of the York circuit who brought Jordan and others to the fore, remarks:

  • 103 Wilkinson, The Wandering Patentee or a History of the Yorkshire Theatres from 1770 to the present (...)

you perceive the skill of the artist perhaps more when he is out of his walk, than when in; for there are not only many tragic and comic actors who possess, with justice, great-approved merit, yet it is Mr. Such-a-one still, because too much of the same man serves to represent a variety of characters, without paying that necessary difficult attention, to discrimination, which should, of course, demand an alteration of voice, action, motion, &c.103

  • 104 MWSJ, p. 96.

41In The Life of Holcroft, which Shelley read in 1816,104 there is a description of the actor, Thomas Weston:

  • 105 Life of Holcroft, p. 100.

While the audience was convulsed with laughter, he was perfectly unmoved: no look, no motion of the body, ever gave the least intimation that he knew himself to be Thomas Weston […] it was always either Jerry Sneak, Doctor Last, Abel Drugger, Scrub, Sharp […]105

42Shelley may also have heard from Hunt his theory of ’natural acting’:

  • 106 Hunt, Critical Essays, pp. 97-98.

A natural actor […] may be correct in the representation of nature, or he may be called correct in the representation of deviations from nature, and either of these correctnesses is natural, in its relation to any appearance in life, natural or artificial, involuntary or assumed.106

  • 107 Ibid., p. 17.

It appears to me that the countenance cannot express a single passion perfectly unless the passion is first felt […] a keen observer of human nature and it’s effects will easily detect the cheat.107

  • 108 Ibid., pp. 23-25.
  • 109 Bernard, Retrospections, I, pp. 226, 170.
  • 110 Hunt, Critical Essays, Appendix, p. 2.

43Critics of the day referred to ’rant’ with disapproval.108 Although the criticism by Hunt and others shows that actors did not always meet their standards, what they considered to be good acting was ’natural’ acting. John Bernard acknowledged that the concept of what was ’natural’ could change and therefore acting styles change in accordance with the changes in the manners of the day, also saying, ’The actor must give the mind with the manner; he is a creature of sympathy; the imitator is merely one of discernment’.109 The actor interacted with the audience but Hunt advocated the ’fourth wall’ theory of drama in which actors perform as if an invisible wall exists between them and the audience.110

The theatres in 1809 and 1810

  • 111 Wyndham, Covent Garden, I, pp. 330, 224.
  • 112 SCII, p. 517.
  • 113 Mander and Mitchenson, p. 235.
  • 114 Downer, ’The Painted Stage’, p. 533.

44By the time of Shelley’s next recorded visits to the theatre in April 1809, Drury Lane had also burnt down. Both companies were performing in other theatres, Covent Garden at the King’s Theatre, Haymarket (usually the Opera House), and Drury Lane at the Lyceum.111 At the King’s Theatre on 17 April Shelley and his cousins, the Groves, saw Richard III, given at this period in the Colley Cibber version.112 The actor playing Richard that season was G.F. Cooke as Kemble never appeared as Richard ’for fear of comparison’ with Cooke.113 Cooke, who influenced Kean, carefully wrote out blank verse in the form of prose to break up a tendency to rhythmic delivery. Alan S. Downer has noted that ’Kean followed Cooke in destroying the rhythm of blank verse, and made great use of ”transitions”, sudden shifts in tone.’114

  • 115 Knight, Surrey Theatre, p. 31.

45Richard III was followed by Thomas Dibdin’s pantomime, Mother Goose, which had established Grimaldi as ’the standard by which all later clowns are judged’ and ’through which Clown was to become the principal figure in pantomime in place of Harlequin’.115 A description has survived of Grimaldi as he would have appeared to Shelley:

  • 116 Highfill, VI, p. 411.

a red shirt frilled and decorated with blue and white facings which is cut away at the chest and waist to reveal an ornamental shirt beneath; his blueand-white-striped breeches end above the knee with a red-white-and-blue ribbon which is repeated at his wrists; and beneath his blue-crested wig, his whitened face is daubed with red triangles on either cheek.116

  • 117 Ibid., p. 411.

46200,000 people came to see him, for ’We can in no way describe what he does […] he must be seen.’ Shelley’s future enemy, Lord Eldon, the Lord Chancellor, saw Mother Goose twelve times, saying, ’Never never did I see a leg of mutton stolen with such superhumanly sublime impudence as by that man’.117

  • 118 Marian Hannah Winter, The Pre-romantic Ballet (London: Pitman, 1974), p. 200.
  • 119 MWSJ, p. 193n.; Mayer, Harlequin in his Element, p. 80.

47Grimaldi was also a brilliant mime, his Italian background allowing him a knowledge of commedia dell’arte, and, his father being ballet master at Drury Lane and his mother a dancer, he was also a talented dancer. The famous pas de deux from Mother Goose between Clown (Grimaldi) and Harlequin, in women’s clothes, when ’Clown tries to steal fruit from the basket of a St. Giles street-girl’, was a parody of that of Achilles and Ulysses ’bordering on the acrobatic’ in the ballet Achille et Deidamir.118 Shelley was also later to see Harlequin Gulliver (16 February 1818), in which Grimaldi parodied a song from The Padlock, Charles Dibdin, the Elder’s wellknown opera.119

  • 120 The Favourite Song of Timothy, as sung by Mrs. Jordan… in the Farce of the Virgin Unmask’d as revi (...)

48Shelley also learnt the power of scenic effects. At the Lyceum on 19 April, the party saw The Cabinet, also by Thomas Dibdin, a comic opera with an absurd, disconnected story, patriotic jokes and splendid scenery, which has never been noticed in connection with Shelley. The other items in the programme were a farce by Henry Fielding, The Virgin Unmask’d (with The Favourite Song of Timothy an extra song originally written for Dorothy Jordan) and a ballet Love in a Tub. 120If the ballet was based on George Etherege’s Restoration play of the same name, the whole programme had a theme of young lovers outwitting the mercenary designs of the older generation which would have appealed to teenagers in love, like Shelley and his cousin, Harriet. But it is The Cabinet which has the most interesting stage feature. In Act II, the heroine is rescued from an island:

  • 121 Thomas Dibdin, The Cabinet: A Comic Opera, in Three Acts, etc. (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees and O (...)

Peter appears in a boat and lands. Boats with lights appear in the distance. Bianca: As I live, it’s some pretty water-show! and coming this way too. Music from the water heard louder. Large gallies drest in rich flags, with lanterns at the stern – gallies pass across – Orlando, Lorenzo, and the rest of the characters and attendants, with lights, land and arrange themselves round the flags.121

49When The Cabinet was first performed on 22 February 1802, a review in the Theatrical Repertory remarked:

  • 122 Nicoll, pp. 32-33. Mary Cathcart Borer, The Story of Covent Garden (London: Robert Hale 1984), p. (...)

Some illuminated boats are introduced at the close of the opera, which came down the stage. We could not but smile at the invention – they display astonishing mechanical powers – The painted canvases intended to represent the waves, have the appearance of the bottom part of double doors left on their hinges, which very conveniently open for the boats to pass.122

50Ten years later, Shelley associated love, music and enchanted boats when he was writing Prometheus Unbound.

  • 123 Mary Cathcart Borer, The Story of Covent Garden (London: Robert Hale 1984), p. 120; Hunt’s Dramati (...)

51The following year when the Grove and Shelley families met once again in London, Covent Garden had been rebuilt by Robert Smirke based on the Parthenon with ’four fluted columns of the Doric portico’, on each side of which were bas-reliefs by John Flaxman. There was a circle of private boxes with three tiers of dove-coloured boxes above, and ’the large arch of the proscenium, with its magnificent red velvet curtain, had a span of over fortytwo feet’. In the foyer was a statue of Shakespeare.123

The theatres in 1817 and 1818

  • 124 Rosenfeld, Scene Design, p. 102.
  • 125 Hunt’s Dramatic Criticism, pp. 314-315.
  • 126 Bergman, Lighting in the Theatre, p. 256.
  • 127 Hunt’s Dramatic Criticism, p. 153.
  • 128 Booth, English Melodrama, p. 64.

52Apart from Kean’s performance of Hamlet in 1814, Shelley’s next recorded theatre visits are in 1817. By then, Siddons had retired and the new stars were Kean and Eliza O’Neill. Covent Garden was ’pre-eminent for scenery’, and scene painters created exotic locations with great verisimilitude: Italian carnivals, Arabian deserts, skating in Holland and a Hindu temple. John Philip Kemble attempted to be accurate by consulting an antiquarian; his brother Charles was eager to go one better not only as to the scenery, but also ’with an attention to Costume Never Before Equalled on the London stage’, as described on his playbill in 1823.124 The stage was also gaslit. Hunt described it as ’the most beautiful lustre of gas light we have ever seen […] everyone as visible as daylight’.125 Experiments with gas lighting at the Lyceum in 1803, the first theatre to adopt it in both stage and auditorium when it re-opened as the English Opera House in 1817, showed that ’the soft and rapid changes between light and darkness over the stage […] had the greatest effect on the audience’ and that these gradual changes were ’really magical, and one does not have to make something offendingly improbable when action passes from day to night’.126 When they were concealed behind the wings at Drury Lane ’their effect, as they appear suddenly from the gloom, is like the striking of daylight’.127 Many innovations had also been made in below-stage mechanisms and trapdoors to effect sudden appearances and disappearances and ghosts were accompanied by blue, white or red fire.128 All these advances had a great effect on Shelley’s own drama. If staged, sudden appearances and disappearances of ghosts and spirits are required for Swellfoot the Tyrant, Prometheus Unbound, and Hellas; the last two also require a gradual change of light.

  • 129 MWSJ, p. 164.
  • 130 Donohue, Theatre in the Age of Kean, pp. 64, 60.
  • 131 Downer, ’The Painted Stage’, pp. 533-534.
  • 132 Qtd in Donohue, Theatre in the Age of Kean, p. 60.

53In 1817 Shelley saw Kean as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice.129 Donohue describes Kean’s talent as ’wonderful for making his auditors think that what he did came on the spur of the inspired moment’, although ’Kean’s ”secret”, if he had one, was the same as Garrick’s and Kemble’s and Siddons’s: minute, tireless preparation of the role’.130 Kean’s ’keynote was violence’. He startled both the audience and the other actors, one of whom he greeted at rehearsal with the words, ’We’ll run through the scene, Mr. Wilton, because I’m told that if you don’t know what I’m going to do I might frighten you.’ Kean also had his detractors: one view was that ’his studied play of physiognomy becomes grimace and his animation of manner becomes incoherent bustle; what is spirited savors of turbulence and what is passionate of phrensy’, while another was that ’his limbs have no repose or steadiness in scenes of agitated feeling; his hands are kept in unremitting and most rapid convulsive movement; seeking as it were, a resting place in some part of his upper chest and occasionally pressed together on the crown of his head.’131 Yet Kean was undoubtedly as much the greatest actor of his generation as Siddons was of hers. The actor, George Vandenhoff, described his style as ’fitful, flashing, abounding in quick transitions; scarcely giving you time to think, but ravishing your wonder, and carrying you along with its impetuous rush and change of expression.’132

54Despite his innovatory technique, there are indications that Kean owed much to the tradition of the previous generation. Kean pronounced G.F. Cooke, whom Shelley had seen as Richard III, ’a perfect actor’. Like Kean, Cooke had made the roles of Richard III and Shylock his own, and as Shylock, Cooke was thus described:

  • 133 Downer, ’The Painted Stage’, pp. 535, 536.

The different ways in which he repeated the ’let him look to his bond’, now with a tone of threatful decision, now with a malicious chuckle; and the torrent of passion with which he poured forth the magnificent speech which follows, giving its fullest effect to every change in the colouring, were felt and acknowledged by most enthusiastic applause. The best part of the passage, because an improvement on himself, was his manner of saying ’Shall we not revenge.’ There was nothing of rant or fury in it. It was dignified, but mighty. … Then his running from one passion to the other in the next dialogue with Tubal… Then the intenseness of his ejaculation ’I thank God! I thank God!’ on hearing of Antonio’s misfortune; and the little fiend-like laugh which preceded the eager question which follows on it ’Is it true? Is it true’ – There is no such acting to be met with nowadays except in Kean.133

55Hazlitt felt Kean was unequalled as Shylock. The very first scene ’shewed the master in his art, and at once decided the opinion of the audience’. Kean had a ’lightness and vigour in his tread, a buoyancy and elasticity of spirit, a fire, an animation’ and showed the character in:

  • 134 Hazlitt, III, pp. 9-10.

varied vehemence of declamation, in keenness of sarcasm, in the rapidity of his transitions from one tone or feeling to another […] presenting a succession of striking pictures, and giving perpetually fresh shocks of delight and surprise […] The character never stands still; there is no vacant pause in the action: the eye is never silent.134

56These descriptions show where Kean followed Cooke in playing Shylock and Richard. Kean adopted the range of emotion and passion, the variety, the sarcasm, the restlessness which characterised Cooke’s performance. Shelley, having seen both actors, would have been able to compare them.

Opera and ballet in England

  • 135 Il matrimonio segreto premiered on 11 January 1794 and was regularly revived. Smith, Italian Opera(...)
  • 136 Gino dell’Ira, I teatri di Pisa (1773-1986) (Pisa: Giardini Editori 1987), p. 14.
  • 137 Leo Hughes, ’Afterpieces or that’s Entertainment’ in Stone, The Stage and the Page, p. 68; Guest, (...)

57The Italian Opera (the King’s Theatre, Haymarket) chiefly produced operas by Italian composers. Il matrimonio segreto, which Shelley was to see in Pisa, had already been performed in London.135 The singers were also Italian. Shelley heard Violante Camporesi as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni and would hear her again at La Scala. Angelica Catalani, whom he had heard in La Vestale, was to settle in Pisa in 1821.136 It had also benefited from the exodus of French ballet composers and dancers both before and certainly after the Revolution. Although ballet as an art form was developed in France, the first ballet d’action was created in England by John Weaver, Loves of Mars and Venus (’a Dramatic Entertainment of Dancing, Attempted in Imitation of the Pantomimes of the Ancient Greeks and Romans’) at a time when, in France, ballet was confined to a dance within or following an opera, and dancers restricted by heavy costumes, wigs, corselettes and masks. Garrick knew of the work of Jean-Georges Noverre, the ’father of modern ballet’, through his wife, a former dancer, and invited him to London in 1760 with his ballet Fêtes Chinoises. Although anti-French sentiment at the time prevented it from being a success, there was mutual admiration between Garrick and Noverre.137

  • 138 Guest, Ballet of the Enlightenment, p. 6.
  • 139 For Psyché, see The Times, 3 May 1810 and SCII, p. 577; Inspired by a contemporary painting, Daube (...)
  • 140 Winter, Pre-Romantic Ballet, pp. 3-4.
  • 141 Guest, Romantic Ballet in Paris, pp. 1, 18; Winter, Pre-Romantic Ballet, p. 259; Marian Smith, Bal (...)

58Noverre had advanced the theory in his Lettres sur la Danse et les Ballets (1760) that ballet had ’the power to speak to the heart’, believing that in a ballet d’action steps and gestures were ’to convey passions […] in a gripping narrative’ aiming for a pictorial but natural beauty, telling a story in dance and mime.138 Acting talent was important. Prevented by the bureaucracy of the ancien régime from progressing in France, he worked in Germany and Austria, returning to London in 1788, where he was once more joined by French dancers. By this time there were some outstanding French ’composers of ballet’. They were not choreographers in the modern sense since they did not write down the steps, but they wrote what they wanted conveyed in the mime and dance. Among these were Pierre Gardel, whose ballet d’action, Psiché, Shelley saw in 1810, and Jean Dauberval, ballet master at the Pantheon in London in 1790-1791, when Viganò worked with him.139 Viganò, whose ballets were to be a great influence on Shelley, ’was to profit enormously from Dauberval’s teaching’. By the 1790s dance technique had changed. The dancers had begun to wear soft slippers and the very flimsy costumes now allowed to the ballerina enabled her to take up more acrobatic dancing, thus becoming the equal of the ballerino.140 However, the male dancer remained the star. What is generally understood as the Romantic ballet is not considered to have properly begun until the 1827 Paris debut of Marie Taglioni. She was initially considered too sickly to become a dancer, but her ethereal style and use of dancing en pointe created the fashion for the ballet blanc; such ballets as La Sylphide and Giselle followed in which the primacy of the ballerina was established, but Marian Smith’s Ballet and Opera in the Age of Giselle shows, from a close examination of the manuscript of the original ballet, that even at this time a ballet was not fully danced but included many scenes of mime.141An early print of La Sylphide throws light on the ballet as it was performed in the pre-Romantic period since it shows the characters posed as in a scene from a play.

4.1 ’La Sylphide’. Scene from Act I, showing Madge reading Girn’s fortune,James with arms crossed, and Effie leaning towards him. Engraving by T. Williams, c. 1832.

4.2. ’La Sylphide’. Scene from Act II: James placing the magic scarf on the Sylphide’s shoulders. lithograph from a drawing by A. Laederich, c. 1832.

  • 142 CCJ, p. 85; Wolfe, p. 330; For Mélanie’s talent and career, see Tetreault, ’Shelley and Opera’, pp (...)
  • 143 Winter, Pre-Romantic Ballet, p. 162.
  • 144 Guest, Romantic Ballet in Paris, p. 17.
  • 145 Smith, Italian Opera, p. 99; Ethel L. Urlin, Dancing Ancient and Modern (London: Simpkin, Marshall (...)

59One ballet, Le Retour du Printemps, Shelley saw at least three times, as it followed the operas Don Giovanni and Paër’s Griselda. Claire Clairmont remarked on the ’Beautiful Dancing’ of the principal dancer, Mélanie, with whom Peacock said Shelley was ’enchanted’, saying ’he had never imagined such grace of motion’.142 Dancers had long careers, as she did: ’all performed until they could not’. They worked internationally and ’almost all had worked together at some point’.143 Among the French dancers who were in London in 1809 was Auguste Vestris, who was said to have invented the pirouette with Gardel.144 Shelley saw his son, Armand, the velocity and duration of whose ’spinning round on one foot’ was said to be ’like the motion of a top’.145

60The scope of theatrical art available was very varied and rich, and there were new developments in playwriting, scenery and architecture. The skills of performers, whether actors, dancers or singers, were high, while the architects, scene painters, machinists and costumers were able to give them excellent support. There was a theatre-going population drawn from all classes, some of whom were radical in their politics. Theatre managers operated under the frustrating restrictions of the system of ’legitimate’ and ’illegitimate theatres’, not abolished until 1843, and strict, often unreasonable censorship which prevented writers for the theatre, including major Romantic poets, from treating controversial subjects. To anticipate this, writers operated self-censorship or set plays in Roman or medieval times.

  • 146 Harcourt, Theatre Royal, Norwich, p. 90.
  • 147 Carr, ’Theatre Music 1800-1834’ in Music in Britain, p. 288; David Mayer, ’The Music of Melodrama’ (...)

61In the Victorian period, as a commentator wrote, ’Boxes have been altered, the old partitions taken down, pit seats re-arranged, entrance in the centre, instead of that long passage, and the emerging from under the stage, and a middle gangway where none existed. The Orchestra has robbed the stage of several feet. The gallery raised’.146 This difference in theatre structure led to late Georgian drama being regarded as out-of-date and impossible to perform because there were too many scene changes for the ultra-realistic sets. Music was also discarded. Although this had been criticised earlier and ’broke down under Phelps’, Mayer believes that the influence of the ’pioneering playwrights’ with the ’so-called New Drama’ led to a twentiethcentury view that serious drama could not include music. Reconsideration of late Georgian drama is beginning, and, with a better understanding of the theatre of this period, may be valued very differently.147

  • 148 The Theatrical Inquisitor and Monthly Mirror, 1 May 1820 and The Edinburgh Monthly Review, May 182 (...)

62Despite the perennial distrust of some for theatre as an art form as opposed to literature, contemporary critics felt the Georgian theatre was capable of a drama as excellent as Jacobean or Athenian, if only the writers who might make it so would emerge. In 1820, two reviewers of The Cenci suggested that one such writer was Shelley.148

63Shelley’s experience of the Georgian theatre, its technical and architectural development, its innovations in the arts of performance, writing and scene and costume design, its exuberance and popularity with a large cross-section of society, was to deeply influence him. For his two great tragedies, The Cenci and the unfinished Charles the First, he drew directly upon this experience, writing for actors he had seen and stages and audiences he knew. Perhaps more surprisingly, this influence extended to the dramas he wrote in the style of classical Greece, Prometheus Unbound, Hellas and Swellfoot the Tyrant, for although these are based on Athenian drama some of their features are unmistakeably derived from plays which Shelley had seen on the London stage.

Notes

1 SPII, p. 729.

2 Sybil Rosenfeld, The Georgian Theatre of Richmond and its Circuit: Beverley, Harrogate, Kendal, Northallerton, Ulverston and Whitby (York: The Society for Theatre Research in association with William Sessions, 1984), p. 49; Bosworth Harcourt, Theatre Royal, Norwich: The Chronicles of an Old Playhouse (Norwich: Norfolk News Co., 1903), p. 8.

3 Mitford, Works, I, p. viii-ix; Bernard, Retrospections, I, p. 12.

4 The Life of Thomas Holcroft Written by Himself Continued by William Hazlitt (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1926), p. 87.

5 Sybil Rosenfeld, ’Jane Austen and Private Theatricals’, Essays and Studies n.s. XV (London: John Murray, 1962), 40-51 (p. 42).

6 Baer, Theatre and Disorder, p. 193; ’On Actors and Acting’, The Selected Writings of William Hazlitt, ed. by Duncan Wu, 9 vols (London: Pickering & Chatto, 1998), II, p. 152.

7 Medwin, Life, I, p. 52; Boaden, Mrs. Jordan, II, p. 105.

8 David Garrick, The Plays of David Garrick, ed. by H.W. Pedicord and F.W. Bergmann, 8 vols (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1982), VII, pp. 199, 415.

9 Southern, Georgian Playhouse, pp. 30-42, figs 10-14.

10 Richard Southern, ’Theatres and Actors’ in The Revels, p. 65.

11 Colin Visser, ’Scenery and Theatrical Design’, p. 83; Southern, Georgian Playhouse, pp. 20-24; Ferrero, ’Staging Rossini’, pp. 206-207.

12 Sybil Rosenfeld, A Short History of Scene Design in Great Britain (Oxford: Blackwell, 1973), p. 60.

13 Colin Visser, ’Scenery and Theatrical Design’ in London Theatre World, p. 85.

14 Kelly, Reminiscences, pp. 246-247.

15 Information from Professor Petr Pirina, Chairman, Český Krumlov Foundation, private conversation at the Congress of Perspectiv, the Association of Historic Theatres in Europe, Bury St Edmunds, 4 October 2007.

16 Colin Visser, ’Scenery and Theatrical Design’, p. 84; Southern, Changeable Scenery, p. 256; Rosenfeld, Georgian Scene Painters, p. 23; Rosenfeld, Scene Design, pp. 98, 103.

17 Edward A. Langhans, ’The Theatres’ in London Theatre World, p. 50.

18 Bamber Gascoigne, World Theatre (London: Ebury Press, 1968), p. 248.

19 de Marly, Costume on the Stage, pp. 11-12, 41.

20 Hazlitt, III, p. 83; Boaden, Mrs. Jordan, I, pp. 71, 28, 19.

21 Boaden, Mrs. Jordan, I, pp. 139, 347, 72, 55, 70-71.

22 James Henry Leigh Hunt, Critical Essays on the Performers of the London Theatres (London: [n. pub.], 1807), p. 165.

23 Plays of David Garrick, VII, p. 236; Boaden, Mrs. Jordan, I, p. 72.

24 Rosenfeld, Georgian Scene Painters, p. 92; Leacroft, English Playhouse, pp. 139, 155, 166-167, 170; George Saunders, ’The Treatise on Theatres’, qtd in Leacroft, English Playhouse, p. 166; Simon Tidworth, Theatres: An Architectural and Cultural History (New York: Praeger, 1973), p. 128.

25 Qtd in A. Langhans, ’The Theatres’ in London Theatre World, pp. 53-54.

26 Stabler, From Burke to Byron, p. 53.

27 Colin Blumenau, Director, Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, speaking at the congress of Perspectiv, Association of Historic Theatres in Europe, Bury St Edmunds, 4 October 2007.

28 Alan S. Downer, ’Players and the Painted Stage’, PMLA, 61 (1946), 522-570, (529-530, 529n); Leacroft, English Playhouse, p. 155.

29 Michael Booth, ’The Theatre and its Audience’ in The Revels, pp. 21-22; Donohue, Theatre in the Age of Kean, p. 156.

30 Rosenfeld, Georgian Scene Painters, pp. 51-55, 63, 93; Scene Design, pp. 77, 91, 88, 103; qtd in Rosenfeld, Georgian Scene Painters, p. 92.

31 Illustration to Richard III, A Tragedy, in Five Acts by W. Shakspeare (London: T. Dolby, 1824).

32 Harlequin and Humpo in Cox and Gamer, Broadview Anthology, p. 209.

33 Rosenfeld, Georgian Scene Painters, pp. 61-62, 120; Colin Visser, ’Scenery and Theatrical Design’, pp. 108-109, 116-117.

34 Colin Visser, ’Scenery and Theatrical Design’, p. 116; Gösta Bergman, Lighting in the Theatre (Totowa: Rowman and Littlefield, 1977), pp. 200, 203.

35 Rosenfeld, Scene Design, pp. 97-99.

36 Thomas Campbell, Mrs. Siddons, p. 252.

37 Rosenfeld, Georgian Scene Painters, p. 38.

38 Rosenfeld, Scene Design, p. 98.

39 Bruce Carr, ’Theatre Music 1800-1834’ in Music in Britain: The Romantic Age, 1800-1914, ed. by Nicholas Temperley, 6 vols (Oxford: Blackwell, 1988), V, p. 288.

40 Roger Fiske, English Theatre Music in the Eighteenth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986), pp. 26-29.

41 ’…four principal painters constantly employed, exclusive of accessory principals, colour grinders, and attendants […] property maker, machinist, master carpenter, 6 or 8 carpenters, 24 to 30 scene men […] master tailor and keeper of the gentlemen’s wardrobe, etc., mistress of the ladies’ wardrobe, both with assistants, and dressers of both sexes [treasurer, under treasurer, housekeeper and attendants, lamplighters, firemen, porters, and watchmen.’ Henry Saxe Wyndham, The Annals of Covent Garden Theatre, 2 vols (London: Chatto & Windus, 1906), I, pp. 336-337.

42 Kelly, Reminiscences, p. 247n.

43 Cox and Gamer, Broadview Anthology, p. 76.

44 Shelley was to meet Lewis in 1816, and the ’mysteries of his trade’ Shelley refers to may have been stagecraft. MWSJ, p. 126.

45 Thomas Morton, Columbus (London: W. Miller, 1792), p. 35.

46 M.G. Lewis, The Castle Spectre (London: J. Bell, 1798), II.i., IV.ii, pp. 24, 79; also see Fiske’s ’Introduction’ to Kelly, Reminiscences, p. x.

47 Southern, Changeable Scenery, p. 307. I believe that this scenery has not previously been identified as intended for this play.

48 Sutcliffe, Plays by Colman and Morton, pp. 15, 11, 5; E.P. Thompson, qtd in Baer, p. 66.

49 Dewey Ganzel, ’Patent Wrongs and Patent Theatres: Drama and the Law in the Early 19th Century’, PMLA, 76 (September 1961), 387-398.

50 Nicoll, p. 17; Jeffrey N. Cox, ’Baillie Siddons Larpent: Gender, Power and Politics’ in Burroughs, Women in British Romantic Theatre, pp. 40-41.

51 Ganzel, ’Patent Wrongs’, p. 393; Sutcliffe, Plays by Colman and Morton, p. 13.

52 Dominic Shellard & Steve Nicholson with Miriam Handley, The Lord Chamberlain Regrets: A History of British Censorship (London: The British Library, 2004), pp. 29-33.

53 Donohue, Theatre in the Age of Kean, pp. 10-11.

54 Ibid., p. 50.

55 Rosenfeld, Georgian Scene Painters, pp. 115, 127-129.

56 Dibdin, Reminiscences, I, p. 420, II, pp. 52, 108.

57 Dennis Arundell, The Story of Sadler’s Wells (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1965), p. 92.

58 Donohue, Theatre in the Age of Kean, p. 157.

59 Booth, ’Public Taste, the Playwright and the Law’ in The Revels, p. 31; Arundell, Sadler’s Wells, p. 44, Derek Forbes ’Water Drama’ in Performance and Politics in Popular Drama, ed. by David Bradby, Louis James and Bernard Sharratt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980), p. 92.

60 Arundell, Sadler’s Wells, pp. 72, 98. 139 Ibid., pp. 96, 89; Moody, Illegitimate Theatre, p. 36; Donohue, Theatre in the Age of Kean, pp. 46-50; Dibdin, Reminiscences, I, p. 157.

61 Ibid., pp. 96, 89; Moody, Illegitimate Theatre, p. 36; Donohue, Theatre in the Age of Kean, pp. 46-50; Dibdin, Reminiscences, I, p. 157.

62 Donohue, Theatre in the Age of Kean, p. 34.

63 Worrall, Theatric Revolution, pp. 263, 250-251, 258.

64 E. Stirling, Old Drury Lane, 2 vols (London: Chatto & Windus, 1881), I, p. 6.

65 143 A Biographical Dictionary of Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Dancers, Managers and Other Stage Personnel in London, 1660-1800, ed. by Philip H. Highfill, Jr, Kalman A. Burnim and Edward J. Langhans, 22 vols (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1963), IX, p. 270.

66 Hall & Macintosh, Greek Tragedy, pp. 239-240.

67 Earl, ’The Rotunda’, p. 87n.; Bratton, New Readings, pp. 48-49.

68 McCalman, Radical Underworld, pp. 90, 276n., 17, 189.

69 Wolfe, I, p. 197; Stephen C. Behrendt, Shelley and His Audiences (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1989), p. 32.

70 Rosenfeld, Temples of Thespis, pp. 16, 111,163, 145, 36, 79, 74; Kelly, Reminiscences, pp. 315-316.

71 Rosenfeld, ’Jane Austen’, p. 45; Rosenfeld, Temples of Thespis, pp. 39, 32-33, 20, 28, 163, 122-125.

72 SCII, pp. 568, 595, 597.

73 Wyndham, Covent Garden, I, p. 330; Baer, Theatre and Disorder, pp. 84-85, 61, 115.

74 Davies, ’Playwrights and Plays’ in The Revels, p. 193.

75 Baer, Theatre and Disorder, pp. 167-168, 172; Donohue, Theatre in the Age of Kean, p. 17; Sutcliffe, Plays by Colman and Morton, p. 7.

76 Baer, Theatre and Disorder, pp. 141, 183; and see Stirling, Old Drury Lane, I, p. 77-78, for playing Shakespeare to mill hands.

77 Charles Lamb, Old China, in The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb, ed. by E.V. Lucas, 3 vols (London: Methuen, 1903), II, p. 250.

78 Baer, Theatre and Disorder, p. 33.

79 Donohue, Theatre in the Age of Kean, p. 172.

80 Behrendt, Shelley and His Audiences, p. 2.

81 Donohue, Theatre in the Age of Kean, pp. 154-155.

82 Charles Inigo Jones, Memoirs of Miss O’Neill (London: D. Cox, 1816), p. 91.

83 Somerset Maugham, Introduction to Raymond Mander and Joe Mitchenson, The Artist and the Theatre (London: Heinemann, 1955), p. xx.

84 Elizabeth Inchbald, ’Remarks’ on De Montfort in The British Theatre, XXIV. Despite Baillie’s original spelling, the title is spelt De Montfort on the playbill and by all contemporary theatre writers.

85 Gaull, English Romanticism, p. 104.

86 Lucas, Works of Charles and Mary Lamb, pp. 132-141, 141-147, 163-165.

87 Moody, Illegitimate Theatre, p. 151.

88 Gaull, English Romanticism, pp. 81-83.

89 Ibid., p. 104.

90 Tobin, The Honeymoon (London: Samuel French, with ’Remarks’ by D-G [George Daniel] [1827(?)]), title page.

91 Julian Charles Young, ’Others and Mrs. Siddons’, in Specimens of English Dramatic Criticism, XVII-XX Centuries, ed. by A.C. Ward (London: Humphrey Milford 1945), pp. 90-91.

92 MWSJ, pp. 662, 632, 193; Gisborne & Williams, p. 145.

93 Michael Booth, ’The Theatre and its Audience’ in The Revels, p. 8.

94 Donohue, Theatre in the Age of Kean, pp. 62-64.

95 Alan S. Downer, ’Nature to Advantage Dressed: Eighteenth Century Acting’, PMLA 58 (1943), 1002-1037 (p. 1028).

96 Boaden, Mrs. Siddons, II, p. 388.

97 Macready, Reminiscences, I, p. 136.

98 ’Desultory Reminiscences of Miss O’Neil’ Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, XXVII (1832), qtd in Downer, ’The Painted Stage’, p. 529.

99 Boaden, Mrs. Siddons, II, pp. 144, 133; I, pp. 317, 327.

100 Hunt, Critical Essays, p. 20.

101 Leigh Hunt’s Dramatic Criticism 1808-1832, ed. by L.J. and C.W. Houtchens (New York: Columbia University Press, 1949), p. 65; Young, ’Others and Mrs. Siddons’, pp. 90-91.

102 See, e.g., the cast lists for Lovers’ Vows by Elizabeth Inchbald (Dublin: Thomas Burnside, 1798) and for Speed the Plough in Plays by Colman and Morton, p. 211.

103 Wilkinson, The Wandering Patentee or a History of the Yorkshire Theatres from 1770 to the present time, 4 vols (York: Wilson, Spence and Mawman, 1795), IV, p. 15.

104 MWSJ, p. 96.

105 Life of Holcroft, p. 100.

106 Hunt, Critical Essays, pp. 97-98.

107 Ibid., p. 17.

108 Ibid., pp. 23-25.

109 Bernard, Retrospections, I, pp. 226, 170.

110 Hunt, Critical Essays, Appendix, p. 2.

111 Wyndham, Covent Garden, I, pp. 330, 224.

112 SCII, p. 517.

113 Mander and Mitchenson, p. 235.

114 Downer, ’The Painted Stage’, p. 533.

115 Knight, Surrey Theatre, p. 31.

116 Highfill, VI, p. 411.

117 Ibid., p. 411.

118 Marian Hannah Winter, The Pre-romantic Ballet (London: Pitman, 1974), p. 200.

119 MWSJ, p. 193n.; Mayer, Harlequin in his Element, p. 80.

120 The Favourite Song of Timothy, as sung by Mrs. Jordan… in the Farce of the Virgin Unmask’d as revived at Drury Lane Theatre (London: Printed for S.A. & P. Thompson, [1790?]); SCII, p. 517.

121 Thomas Dibdin, The Cabinet: A Comic Opera, in Three Acts, etc. (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees and Orme, 1805), pp. 81-83.

122 Nicoll, pp. 32-33. Mary Cathcart Borer, The Story of Covent Garden (London: Robert Hale 1984), p. 120; Hunt’s Dramatic Criticism, pp. 26-27.

123 Mary Cathcart Borer, The Story of Covent Garden (London: Robert Hale 1984), p. 120; Hunt’s Dramatic Criticism, pp. 26-27.

124 Rosenfeld, Scene Design, p. 102.

125 Hunt’s Dramatic Criticism, pp. 314-315.

126 Bergman, Lighting in the Theatre, p. 256.

127 Hunt’s Dramatic Criticism, p. 153.

128 Booth, English Melodrama, p. 64.

129 MWSJ, p. 164.

130 Donohue, Theatre in the Age of Kean, pp. 64, 60.

131 Downer, ’The Painted Stage’, pp. 533-534.

132 Qtd in Donohue, Theatre in the Age of Kean, p. 60.

133 Downer, ’The Painted Stage’, pp. 535, 536.

134 Hazlitt, III, pp. 9-10.

135 Il matrimonio segreto premiered on 11 January 1794 and was regularly revived. Smith, Italian Opera, pp. 28, 48, 53, 68,129, 154.

136 Gino dell’Ira, I teatri di Pisa (1773-1986) (Pisa: Giardini Editori 1987), p. 14.

137 Leo Hughes, ’Afterpieces or that’s Entertainment’ in Stone, The Stage and the Page, p. 68; Guest, Romantic Ballet in England, pp. 13-14.

138 Guest, Ballet of the Enlightenment, p. 6.

139 For Psyché, see The Times, 3 May 1810 and SCII, p. 577; Inspired by a contemporary painting, Dauberval created La Fille Mal Gardée, a version of which is still in the repertoire. Guest, Ballet of the Enlightenment, pp. 386-389, 388n.

140 Winter, Pre-Romantic Ballet, pp. 3-4.

141 Guest, Romantic Ballet in Paris, pp. 1, 18; Winter, Pre-Romantic Ballet, p. 259; Marian Smith, Ballet and Opera in the Age of Giselle (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000).

142 CCJ, p. 85; Wolfe, p. 330; For Mélanie’s talent and career, see Tetreault, ’Shelley and Opera’, pp. 162-165.

143 Winter, Pre-Romantic Ballet, p. 162.

144 Guest, Romantic Ballet in Paris, p. 17.

145 Smith, Italian Opera, p. 99; Ethel L. Urlin, Dancing Ancient and Modern (London: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton Kent & Co., n.d.), p. 144.

146 Harcourt, Theatre Royal, Norwich, p. 90.

147 Carr, ’Theatre Music 1800-1834’ in Music in Britain, p. 288; David Mayer, ’The Music of Melodrama’ in Bradby, et al., p. 49.

148 The Theatrical Inquisitor and Monthly Mirror, 1 May 1820 and The Edinburgh Monthly Review, May 1820, qtd in Shelley: The Critical Heritage, ed. by James E. Barcus (London: Routledge, 1995), pp. 180, 189.

Table des illustrations

Légende 1.’Richard III’, engraving by John White from a drawing taken in the theatre by Mr. R. Cruikshank, c. 1824, from Cumberland’s British Theatre, private collection.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/762/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 100k
Légende 2. ’Macbeth’, engraving by John White from a drawing taken in the theatre by Mr. R. Cruikshank, c. 1824, from Cumberland’s British Theatre, private collection.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/762/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 161k
Légende 3. ’Bernard Blackmantle reading his play in the Green Room of Covent Garden Theatre’, drawn and engraved by R. Cruikshank, 10 June 1824, from The English Spy (1825). Private collection.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/762/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 75k
Légende 4.1 ’La Sylphide’. Scene from Act I, showing Madge reading Girn’s fortune,James with arms crossed, and Effie leaning towards him. Engraving by T. Williams, c. 1832.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/762/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 104k
Légende 4.2. ’La Sylphide’. Scene from Act II: James placing the magic scarf on the Sylphide’s shoulders. lithograph from a drawing by A. Laederich, c. 1832.
URL http://books.openedition.org/obp/docannexe/image/762/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 92k