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The Theatrical Manager in Britain and America: Player of a Perilous Game

The Theatrical Manager in Britain and America: Player of a Perilous Game

Copyright Date: 1971
Pages: 230
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  • Book Info
    The Theatrical Manager in Britain and America: Player of a Perilous Game
    Book Description:

    From Philip Henslowe to David Merrick, the producer or theatre manager has generally been seen as a combination of Shylock and Simon Legree, usurer and slavedriver, wholly concerned with profit and loss, indifferent to art and artists. Yet no single person has greater responsibility in what George Henry Lewes called the "perilous game" of play production. The essays in this volume examine five English and American theatrical managers, from the Elizabethan period to the twentieth century: Philip Henslowe, Tate Wilkinson, Stephen Price, Edwin Booth, and Charles Wyndham. The contributors, who evaluate the relationship of each manager to the drama of his time, include Bernard Beckerman, Charles Beecher Hogan, Benard Hewitt, Charles Shattuck, and George Rowell. Joseph Donohue's essay, "The Theatrical Manager and the Uses of Theatrical Research," introduces the volume.

    Originally published in 1971.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6810-0
    Subjects: Performing Arts

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Foreword
    (pp. v-vi)

    The essays collected in this volume were originally delivered as lectures at Princeton University during the course of the 1969-70 academic year. They were arranged in honor of Gerald Eades Bentley, then Murray Professor of English Literature, in the year of his retirement from the Princeton faculty. In order to pay tribute to Professor Bentley’s lifetime of scholarship on the theatre, principally embodied in his seven-volume workThe Jacobean and Caroline Stage(Oxford, 1941-68), his colleague Professor Alan S. Downer conceived the idea of a series of lectures on a subject central to theatrical scholarship but in great need of...

  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xi-2)
  6. Introduction The Theatrical Manager and the Uses of Theatrical Research
    (pp. 3-18)

    His name may be as much of the moment as Harold Prince or David Merrick, or it may be shrouded in a reference to the “Wakefield master” or replaced by a generic term likechoregus. If his exact identity varies, however, there is no doubt that his function is, and has always been, the first essential for theatrical performance. Playwrights like Horace Walpole and Robert Bridges may regard with indifference or even scorn the possibilities for art held out by production. But for the playwright whose goal is the presentation of his work before a live audience, the man whose...

  7. Philip Henslowe
    (pp. 19-62)

    On the first sheet of the account book known as hisDiary, Philip Henslowe scribbled the wry observation, “when I lent I wasse A friend & when I asked I wasse unkind.”¹ This plaintive comment epigrammatizes the twofold activity of Henslowe’s business life. It is an acknowledgment of the fickle ambivalence of his financial dealings, an ambivalence that characterizes Henslowe’s entire career. That his life alternated between dispensing and collecting money in connection with a wide variety of theatrical and nontheatrical enterprises is clear enough. Less clear, particularly in respect to his theatrical activities, is exactly how he conducted his affairs...

  8. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  9. One of God Almighty’s Unaccountables: Tate Wilkinson of York
    (pp. 63-86)

    On an October afternoon in 1758 Tate Wilkinson, a young man of nineteen who the previous year had made his first appearance as an actor, sat at dinner in the house near Pall Mall in London of a certain Mrs. Wier. Another of Mrs. Wier’s guests was an elderly gentleman named Joseph Baker. The accidental meeting of these two men was, said the younger, “the whole and sole occasion of bringing about my being manager.”¹

    Now, Joseph Baker was, and had been for some fifteen years, the manager of a celebrated provincial theatre situated in the city of York. In...

  10. “King Stephen” of the Park and Drury Lane
    (pp. 87-142)

    Washington Irving customarily referred to Stephen Price as “King Stephen,”¹ and there was more than a touch of mockery in his figurative elevation of the American theatre manager to a throne. In the early nineteenth century, the struggle for independence from England was too recent for kings to be greatly admired in this country. They were associated not only with prestige and power but with arbitrariness and tyranny. When Irving called Price King Stephen, he was gently deriding the manager’s manners and methods, as well as paying tribute to his prestige and power in the world of the theatre.


  11. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  12. The Theatrical Management of Edwin Booth
    (pp. 143-188)

    In 1863, some three years after Edwin Booth won recognition in New York City as a starring actor, he ventured into theatre management. His motives were in part centered in personal advancement. During the dozen years of his novitiate—stock acting in California and Australia, barnstorming the East in pursuit of stardom, serving under crude commercial managers—he had determined that if he were ever to stand at the head of his profession he must assume governance. His motives were in part liberal: he wished to improve the whole art of theatre in America, and this he could achieve only...

  13. Wyndham of Wyndham’s
    (pp. 189-214)

    The practice of naming theatres after theatre people is uncommon in England. Perhaps this state of affairs reflects the nation’s adherence to monarchy. Playhouses have been called after kings, queens, princes, princesses, and even mere dukes and duchesses since the Restoration, but although the circus, that most democratic temple of the the arts, began to honor its Astleys, Davises, and Henglers from the end of the eighteenth century, the first English actor to give his name to a theatre was the comedian J. L. Toole, who rechristened the Charing Cross Theatre in 1882. His lead was followed by Edward Terry...

  14. Contributors
    (pp. 215-216)