Shakespeare in the Theatre: An Anthology of Criticism

Shakespeare in the Theatre: An Anthology of Criticism

Shakespeare in the Theatre: An Anthology of Criticism

Shakespeare in the Theatre: An Anthology of Criticism


Shakespeare in the Theatre offers a rich, varied, and wonderfully evocative collection of eye-witness accounts of Shakespearian performances over the centuries. Theatre generates an excitement that stimulates fine prose: here are Hazlitt's famous accounts of Edmund Kean as Richard III and Hamlet, Bernard Shaw on Forbes-Robertson's Hamlet and his hilarious descriptions of Augustin Daly's productions, Max Beerbohm on Gordon Craig, and Kenneth Tynan on Olivier and Wolfit. Here too are lesser-known pieces by great writers: the German novelist Theodor Fontane on Charles Kean, Evelyn Waugh on Olivier, Virginia Woolf on Twelfth Night at the Old Vic. Taken together these pieces represent an appreciation of the work of the finest Shakespearian interpreters, and a survey of changing styles of Shakespearian production - ranging right across the canon - from the seventeenth century to the present, in England, America, and further afield. The post-war period is amply represented, right up to the present day, with vivid accounts of landmark productions by directors such as Peter Brook, Peter Hall, John Barton, Deborah Warner, Trevor Nunn, and Declan Donnellan. Stanley Wells introduces the volume with an essay on `Shakespeare and the Theatre Critics', and supplies each review with a helpful headnote and explanatory references.


In tracking down allusions referred to in the notes I have incurred a debt of gratitude to many students, colleagues, and friends, including Mary Allen, Julia Briggs, Philip Collins, Kelley Costign, Laurence Danson, Jean-Michel DéOprats, Paul Edmondson, Richard Foulkes, Kenneth Garlick, Joy Leslie Gibson, Madeline Huxstep(and other members of the Charles Lamb Society, especially Claude Prance), Eric Ives, Laurence Kitchin, Francois Laroque, Niky Rathbone, James Shaw, Richard Simmons, Maire Steadman, Kelsey Thornton, Solitaire Townsend, Marcus Walsh, Roger Warren, Martin Wiggins, and Glen Wilson. The library staff of the Shakespeare Institute and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust have as always been unfailingly helpful. I am especially greatefal to Russell Jackson for reading the typescript and allowing me to use his as-yet unpublished translation of Theodor Fontane, and to Peter Holland, who also read the typescript and made valuable comments. I have benefited greatly from the patience and expertise of Frances Whistler, of Oxford University Press, and from the scrupulous copy-editing of Christine Buckley.

This book is to be published at the time of my retirement from the Shakespeare Institute of the University of Birmingham, where I have happily spent most of my working life. I offer it to all who have studied there, and to future students, too, in the hope that it will prove both enjoyable and useful.

May 1997


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