Download e-book for kindle: Reflecting the Audience: London Theatregoing, 1840-1880 by Jim Davis

By Jim Davis

This leading edge paintings starts to fill a wide hole in theatre stories: the shortcoming of any entire research of nineteenth-century British theatre audiences. In an try to carry a few order to the big quantity of obtainable fundamental fabric, Jim Davis and Victor Emeljanow specialize in London from 1840, instantly ahead of the deregulation of that city's theatres, to 1880, while the Metropolitan Board of Works assumed accountability for his or her licensing. In one other try and deal with their fabric, they focus bankruptcy by way of bankruptcy on seven consultant theatres from 4 parts: the Surrey Theatre and the Royal Victoria to the south, the Whitechapel Pavilion and the Britannia Theatre to the east, Sadler's Wells and the Queen's (later the Prince of Wales's) to the north, and Drury Lane to the west. Davis and Emeljanow completely study the composition of those theatres' audiences, their habit, and their attendance styles by means of taking a look at topography, social demography, police reviews, playbills, autobiographies and diaries, newspaper debts, monetary and social elements as visible in census returns, maps and transportation info, and the managerial rules of every theatre.

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Sample text

T. Haines (My Poll and My Partner Joe, The Ocean of Life, The Phantom Ship, Alice Grey, Jack Sheppard, and Claud Duval), as well as other melodramas such as Jane of the Hatchet (with its 100 female warriors), were all drawing audiences. The Weekly Dispatch (9 May 1841) characterizes the Surrey audiences as ‘‘not over fond of sterling acting. ’’ The passing of the Theatre Regulation Act in 1843, which made very little difference to the Victoria’s repertoire, gave scope for a broader range of performances at the Surrey, to some extent achieving the breadth that Elliston had argued for earlier in the century.

112 Nevertheless, it is clear that the Surrey cannot be dismissed as a mere purveyor of melodrama to the lowest common denominator of spectator during this period. The demographic shift away from the pockets of respectable residents discernible in the 1860 census may help to account for the change in the Surrey’s fortunes in the late 1860s, although the appeal of opera had declined from the mid-1850s. (Shepherd and Creswick had put on an opera in Italian instead of in English and doubled their 30 { Audiences South of the Thames } prices in 1856.

In order to do so, visiting celebrities would need to be seen in the theatre, and productions of plays comparable in quality to those concurrently being performed either at the Surrey or the West End would need to be offered. 120 In 1831, when Edmund Kean opened on June 27 in Richard III, Davidge not only installed 4s stalls in the pit, but asserted that he was following the practice of the opera: those of the Theatrical Public who have hitherto only witnessed the efforts of this great tragedian in the vast spaces of the Patent { The Surrey and the Victoria } 33 Theatrical Reflection, or, a Peep at the Looking-glass Curtain at the Royal Coburg Theatre, 1822.

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