Specimens of English Dramatic Criticism, XVII-XX Centuries

By A. C. Ward | Go to book overview

'THE PLAYBOY OF THE WESTERN WORLD'1

I

Abbey Theatre, Dublin, January 1907

MR. J. M. SYNGE'S new comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, was produced in the Abbey Theatre on Saturday night by the National Theatre Society. The theatre was crowded with an audience the majority of whom were prepared to give a friendly reception to the latest work of a playwright who had already proved himself possessed of ability to present an effective stage representation of Irish people. On those who visited the Abbey Theatre on Saturday night for the first time, however, the performance must have produced a strange impression. The majority of theatre-goers are not accustomed to

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1
This first production of what is now generally regarded as Synge's masterpiece provoked one of the most famous rows in theatre history. For several successive nights the audiences refused to listen to the actors, who nevertheless continued to perform amid the turmoil. A number of court cases resulted, and the Dublin papers rocked with controversy. The Abbey management arranged a public debate, held in the theatre on 4 February 1907, at which W. B. Yeats defended the play in face of much further noise and impassioned dissent. Having demonstrated in this way the otherwise commendable Irish habit of taking the theatre seriously, Dublin then went about its normal business and The Playboy caused little further trouble. As the files of other Irish newspapers were not accessible in the circumstances prevailing during the compilation of this book I was compelled to draw entirely from the one source available to me. The Freeman's Journal of the same period should be consulted for a presentation of the anti-Plaboy argument.--ED.

-248-

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Specimens of English Dramatic Criticism, XVII-XX Centuries
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Introduction 1
  • London Theatres in the 1660s 21
  • Betterton's Benefit 44
  • Thomas Betterton 46
  • Garrick's First Performance in London 60
  • Mr. Partridge Sees Garrick 63
  • 'the Beggar's Opera': 18th Century 69
  • Mrs. Siddons 84
  • Others--And Mrs. Siddons 89
  • 'the Beggar's Opera': 19th Century 93
  • Kean as Richard the Third 96
  • On Actors and Acting 101
  • On the Artificial Comedy of The Last Century 112
  • Phelps at Sadler's Wells 123
  • At the Pantomime 130
  • 'Caste' 132
  • On Natural Acting 142
  • Ellen Terry 154
  • Ellen Terry 159
  • Irving in Shakespeare 162
  • 'Ghosts' 182
  • 'Arms and the Man' 190
  • 'trilby' 198
  • Donkey Races 203
  • Forbes Robertson's Hamlet 208
  • 'trelawny of the "Wells"' 218
  • F. R. Benson's Richard II 222
  • Dan Leno 231
  • The Wild Duck' 237
  • 'the Playboy of the Western World'1 248
  • P. D. Kenny 254
  • Granville Barker's Production Of 'twelfth Night' 260
  • 'the Pretenders' 264
  • 'A Bill of Divorcement' 282
  • The Search for the Masterpiece 290
  • 'Peer Gynt' at the Old Vic 294
  • Marie Lloyd 297
  • 'the Way of the World' 302
  • 'Hamlet' in Modern Dress 307
  • A Creator 312
  • Biblical 'tobias and the Angel' 316
  • 'twelfth Night' at the Old Vic 321
  • 'Murder in the Cathedral' 326
  • 'As You like It' at the Old Vic 329
  • Editor's Note 331
  • Descriptive Index 333
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