From Edward Ravenscroft to Peter Brook
in Titus Andronicus
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In 1598 Francis Meres lists Titus Andronicus among William Shakespeare's tragedies. Performed intermittently in the early years of the eighteenth century, Edward Ravenscroft's Titus in 1717 became a major vehicle for James Quin, the first of many actors who found grand opportunities in the role of Aaron. Except for the Ravenscroft adaptation, Titus was more of a curiosity than a theatrical playscript between the seventeenth and the twentieth centuries. Edward Trostle Jones argues that Peter Brook's 'stylized distancing effects' allowed the spectator to 'accept the horror of the play without experiencing total revulsion'. And to reach 'the beauty beneath the barbarism of Titus Andronicus requires the repressive mode for presentation'. Before Brook-Laurence Olivier, the most notable production was the 1923 rendition at the Old Vic, directed by Robert Atkins as part of a mounting of all thirty-seven plays over a seven-year period.


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