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.
with a little deviousness and a lot of
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-centuryBritishtheatre into before and after, a gateway between the star-ridden
conservatism of the West End and the challenging progressiveness of the
Actresses, female performers, autobiography and the scripting of professional practice
Maggie B. Gale
War, see Gale (2019).
11 George Bernard Shaw, who had written numerous parts for her, reportedly
negotiated the settlement for the divorce, after which his professional relationship and friendship with Granville-Barker came to an abrupt end.
12 A literary critic and journalist, Desmond MacCarthy was drama critic for the
New Statesman from 1917 to 1920.
13 Sharing the belief that theatre should be available as a civic experience, and
not simply produced as a commodity, was pivotal to many key developments in early twentieth-centuryBritishtheatre – we should note
trace as author of the longest-running musical on the London stage, a
record that lasted until 1956.46 He is also remembered because he made
sure that he was, by penning an autobiography in his later fallow years.
But Lily Brayton remained only in the imagination of the generation who
knew her with popular affection in her roles from Katharina to Britannia.
Never associated with modernism in theatre or the ‘New Woman’ in
drama, Brayton’s contribution to twentieth-centuryBritishtheatre has
been consigned historically to that of the ‘subaltern’. However, the shift
, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Bratton, Jacky (2003), New Readings in Theatre History, Cambridge: Cambridge
Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre (2012), Fishy Tales: Living Memories of New
Hall 1930–2012, Colchester: Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre.
Cochrane, Claire (2011), TwentiethCenturyBritishTheatre: Industry, Art and
Empire, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
De Bellaigue, Christina (2001), ‘The Development of Teaching as a Profession for
Women before 1870’, The Historical Journal, 44.4, pp. 963–88.
Dolan, Winifred (2010), A Chronicle
The Citizens’ Theatre (Glasgow), 1972, and Northern Broadsides (Halifax), 1995
Carol Chillington Rutter
excluded, the ‘toffs’ from the ‘plebs’. It would have surprised no one in 1950s Britain that the Shakespeare part the schoolboy Harrison ‘played [was] the drunken Porter in Macbeth’.
The cliché that Shakespeare's kings speak poetry, his plebs, prose, is, of course, utter tosh, as a swift glance at Hamlet or Richard II
demonstrates. But it's remarkably tenacious tosh that, attached to notions of accent as class indicator and Shakespeare as increasingly the property of the culturally elite, meant that in the twentieth-century