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This book writes a performance history of Antony and Cleopatra from 1606 to 2018. After considering the particular challenges Shakespeare’s script offers any actors, directors or designers who stage it, the book looks in detail at Antony and Cleopatra on the Jacobean stage and then at Dryden’s All for Love (the play that replaced Shakespeare’s from the Restoration to 1849). Fast-forwarding across a number of Victorian adaptations and early twentieth century English productions, it arrives at 1953, when, directed by Glen Byam Shaw at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre with Peggy Ashcroft as Cleopatra and Michael Redgrave as Antony, the play’s modern performance history begins. Thereafter, chapters offer in-depth analyses of fifteen productions by (among others) the Royal Shakespeare Company, Citizens’ Theatre Glasgow, Northern Broadsides, Berliner Ensemble and Toneelgroep Amsterdam in five countries and three languages. Combining close readings of theatre records – promptbooks, stage managers’ reports, costume bibles, reviews – with deep historical contextualisation, it sees how, and what, this play has meant each time it has brought its thoughts on power, race, masculinity, regime change, exoticism, love, dotage and delinquency into alignment with a new present. It ends seeing Shakespeare’s black Cleopatra restored to the English stage. Tragedy, comedy, history, farce: this book demonstrates that in performance Antony and Cleopatra is all four.

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Theatre plays on British television
Editors: Amanda Wrigley and John Wyver

In this edited collection, scholars use a variety of methodologies to explore the history of stage plays produced for British television between 1936 and the present. The volume opens with a substantial historical outline of the how plays originally written for the theatre were presented by BBC Television and the ITV companies as well as by independent producers and cultural organisations. Subsequent chapters analyse television adaptations of existing stage productions, including a 1937 presentation of a J. B. Priestley play by producer Basil Dean; work by companies including the Royal Shakespeare Company, Stoke-on-Trent’s Victoria Theatre and the Radical Alliance of Poets and Players; the verbatim dramas from the Tricycle Theatre and National Theatre of Scotland; and Mike Leigh’s comedy Abigail’s Party, originally staged for Hampstead Theatre and translated to the Play for Today strand in 1977. Broadcast television’s original productions of classic and contemporary drama are also considered in depth, with studies of television productions of plays by Jacobean dramatists John Webster and Thomas Middleton, and by Henrik Ibsen and Samuel Beckett. In addition, the volume offers a consideration of the contribution to television drama of the influential producer Cedric Messina who, between 1967 and 1977, oversaw BBC Television’s Play of the Month strand before initiating The BBC Television Shakespeare (1978–85); the engagement with television adaptations by modern editors of Shakespeare’s plays; and Granada Television’s eccentric experiment in 1969–70 of running The Stables Theatre Company as a producer for both stage and screen. Collectively, these chapters open up new areas of research for all those engaged in theatre, media and adaptation studies.

Robert Ormsby

Laurence Olivier’s spectacular death plunge at Stratford-upon-Avon’s Shakespeare Memorial Theatre (SMT) in 1959 provides Coriolanus and postwar British theatre with one of its most striking and best-known images. Having been impaled by Volscian spears, the fifty-two-year-old Olivier, incredibly, dived headfirst from a rocky ledge more than ten feet above the stage. Angus

in Coriolanus
Separate Tables, separate entities?
Dominic Shellard

sometimes so odd about not talking to newcomers, I don’t know why, and I hate any of my guests to feel lonely. [ Conversationally ] Loneliness is a terrible thing, don’t you agree?’ Later the theme of loneliness and incompatibility is developed through a series of vignettes in a delicacy of characterisation which could earn Rattigan the title of ‘the Jane Austen of British theatre

in British cinema of the 1950s
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British theatre and imperial decline
Dan Rebellato

with a little deviousness and a lot of suave implacability. Only a week after South Sea Bubble opened, John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger began previewing at the Royal Court. This play has become the marker that divides twentieth-century British theatre into before and after, a gateway between the star-ridden conservatism of the West End and the challenging progressiveness of the

in British culture and the end of empire
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Oh! What a Lovely War (1969)
Sally Dux

New directions: Oh! What a Lovely War (1969) 3 Oh! What a Lovely War is Richard Attenborough’s most innovative film and one of his finest productions. The film is notable for its stylised scenes and a cast that included the elite of British theatre, giving it a significant cachet. Yet, like many of Attenborough’s films Oh! What a Lovely War was to prove controversial. The film has no credited screenwriter, a result of disagreements during production, the repercussions of which extended well beyond the film’s release. During filming unfavourable opinions were

in Richard Attenborough
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Stories of lost children, ghosts and the endangered present in contemporary theatre

This book explores connections between theatre time, the historical moment, and fictional time. It argues that a crucial characteristic of contemporary British theatre is its preoccupation with instability and danger, and traces images of catastrophe and loss in a wide range of recent plays and productions. The diversity of the texts that are examined is a major strength of the book. In addition to plays by contemporary dramatists, the book analyses staged adaptations of novels, and productions of plays by Euripides, Strindberg and Priestley. A key focus is Stephen Daldry's award-winning revival of Priestley's An Inspector Calls, which is discussed in relation both to other Priestley ‘time’ plays and to Caryl Churchill's apocalyptic Far Away. Lost children are a recurring motif. Bryony Lavery's Frozen, for example, is explored in the context of the Soham murders, which took place while the play was in production at the National Theatre, whilst three virtually simultaneous productions of Euripides' Hecuba are interpreted with regard to the Beslan massacre of schoolchildren.

Editor: Stuart Ward

The demise of British imperial power in the three decades following the Second World War is a familiar theme in the study of post-war British politics, economics and foreign relations. This book is the first major attempt to examine the cultural manifestations of the demise of imperialism as a social and political ideology in post-war Britain. It stresses and strains of imperial decline were not safely contained within the realm of high politics. British governments had to steer a delicate course between a firm display of British authority and control. The book begins with an overview of the persistence of imperialism in popular culture in the post-1945 era. Although an elitist and unashamedly 'establishment' grouping, the Round Table had always been actively engaged in the wider dissemination of an imperial outlook. The Commonwealth anaesthetic was at its most effective at the time of Queen Elizabeth's coronation in June 1953. The book then examines the remarkable coincidence of the coronation and the conquest of Everest, an event that became heavily imbued with late imperial hubris. An account of the complex picture of a British theatre, post-war cultural scene, the anti-establishment sentiment, and the shortcomings of Britain's ruling elites, follows. The book also examines Britain's steadily dwindling imperial power was mirrored by the demise of English cricket. The culture of imperial decline, namely that of popular children's literature is discussed. The book talks about the nostalgic trail of post-imperial British travellers, immigration divide, and the relationship between western feminism and colonial nationalism.

Angela Carter’s marionette theatre
Marie Mulvey-Roberts

246 The arts of Angela Carter 12 The rough and the holy: Angela Carter’s marionette theatre Maggie Tonkin L ‘ “ ive” theatre – though it might be better to call it “undead” theatre – used to embarrass me so much I could hardly bear it, that dreadful spectacle of painted loons in the middle distance making fools of themselves’ (Carter, 2013: 495): these scathing remarks, made in ‘Acting it Up on the Small Screen’, an essay published in New Society in 1979, reveal much about Angela Carter’s view of classic British theatre. Her characterization of classic

in The arts of Angela Carter
Popular imperialism and the music hall ballet
Jane Pritchard and Peter Yeandle

This chapter looks at the development of ballet in the second half of the nineteenth century and the way in which at outer London music halls it became increasingly topical in its subject matter during the period 1870-1884. Many of the references related to the changing political conditions of the day, but the references to situations served more to reassure the audiences than to criticise policy makers. There was always an element of fantasy and escapism about the productions but they also introduced audiences to places of which they may have had little knowledge. London’s dance history, away from the opera houses and the two Leicester Square theatres, is very poorly documented. Ballet in the nineteenth century takes many guises and many dance historians dismiss the post-Romantic period in British theatre as it focused on popular entertainment. Because the available information is so patchy the picture becomes distorted. This chapter starts to investigate just what was music hall ballet and why did it appeal so strongly to its audience.

in Politics, performance and popular culture