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Romantic drama : acting and reacting /
Frederick Burwick.
1st pbk. ed.
Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2010, c2009.
viii, 345 pages : illustrations
9780521182416 (pbk.)
More Details
Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2010, c2009.
9780521182416 (pbk.)
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2009-10-01:
Burwick (emer., UCLA) provides a clear, wide-ranging study of the drama and theatrical practice of the British Romantic period. Examining theater in London and the provinces along with patent and minor theaters, he covers scene painting, lighting, acting styles, cross-dressing, and genres ranging from comedy to drama, burlesque to opera. The early chapters provide analysis of plays by Hannah Cowley, Elizabeth Inchbald, George Colman the Younger, and Edward Fitzball and the acting of Sarah Siddons, Fanny Kemble, and William Henry West Betty). The gothic receives sustained analysis; the book concludes with chapters on comedy in gothic drama, Blue Beard dramatizations, and vampire plays. The author organizes all the chapters around the tension that emerges in production between illusion and anti-illusion: Romantic-era theater encouraged audiences to view actors and the stage as the things they represented, but at the same time the theater drew attention to its own theatrical artifice. Burwick builds on an argument he developed in Illusion and Drama (1991) and employs the same interdisciplinary approach he demonstrated in his outstanding Poetic Madness and the Romantic Imagination (CH, Nov'96, 34-1354). Summing Up: Highly recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty. E. B. Ziter New York University
Review Quotes
"As indicated by its subtitle, Frederick Burwick's lively and innovative Romantic Drama gives 'primary attention to the varied dynamics of performance and audience response' (8)...with its abundance of knowledge and enjoyable content, its unusual angle, its astute observations and insights, all delivered in an appealing and entertaining style, this highly informative work is a valuable asset to Romantic theatre studies and leaves us looking forward to the author's forthcoming publication." -Stephanie Dumke, Coleridge Bulletin
'Burwick's lively academic guide delves into what it must have been like to be an actor in the late eighteenth, early nineteenth century ... especially thorough in examining shifts in acting style, sieving through actors' own memoirs and diaries to reveal that some players played up their bad acting and made a virtue of it.'
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Bowker Data Service Summary
This book examines the radical changes in drama during the Romantic period, tracing how these changes affected theatre performance, acting, and audience.
Description for Bookstore
From 1780 to 1830 theatres were rebuilt and expanded to accommodate larger audiences. Acting styles and plays themselves evolved to meet the expectations of the new audiences. Including eye-witness accounts by theatre-goers and critics, this book traces the radical changes in acting, stage design, and the new forms of drama.
Main Description
Drama in the Romantic period underwent radical changes affecting theatre performance, acting, and audience. Theatres were rebuilt and expanded to accommodate larger audiences, and consequently acting styles and the plays themselves evolved to meet the expectations of the new audiences. This book examines manifestations of change in acting, stage design, setting, and the new forms of drama. Actors exercised a persistent habit of stepping out of their roles, whether scripted or not. Burwick traces the radical shifts in acting style from Garrick to Kemble and Siddons, and to Kean and Macready, adding a new dimension to understanding the shift in cultural sensibility from early to later Romantic literature. Eye-witness accounts by theatre-goers and critics attending plays at the major playhouses of London, the provinces, and on the Continent are provided, allowing readers to identify with the experience of being in the theatre during this tumultuous period.
Table of Contents
Periscopes into the theatre
Nationalism and national character
Genre: the realism of fantasy, the fantasy of realism
Acting, histrionics, and dissimulation
Transvestites, lovers, monsters: character and sexuality
Setting: where and elsewhere
Gothic and anti-Gothic: comedy and horror
Blue-Beard's castle: mischief and misogyny
Vampires in kilts
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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