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Celebrity, Performance, Reception
British Georgian Theatre as Social Assemblage


  • Date Published: April 2018
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108458078

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About the Authors
  • By 1800 London had as many theatre seats for sale as the city's population. This was the start of the capital's rise as a centre for performing arts. Bringing to life a period of extraordinary theatrical vitality, David Worrall re-examines the beginnings of celebrity culture amidst a monopolistic commercial theatrical marketplace. The book presents an innovative transposition of social assemblage theory into performance history. It argues that the cultural meaning of drama changes with every change in the performance location. This theoretical model is applied to a wide range of archival materials including censors' manuscripts, theatre ledger books, performance schedules, unfamiliar play texts and rare printed sources. By examining prompters' records, box office receipts and benefit night takings, the study questions the status of David Garrick, Sarah Siddons and Edmund Kean, and recovers the neglected actress, Elizabeth Younge, and her importance to Edmund Burke.

    • Presents a new theoretical model for performance history, working across all public performance types
    • Applies this new model to a large archival range, analysing a series of fully historicised case histories
    • Re-situates celebrity and reconsiders the sheer volume of theatricality in eighteenth-century Britain, demonstrating the organisational complexity of theatre
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Quirky, original, entertaining … liberally packed with fascinating material viewed from unusual perspectives.' The Times Literary Supplement

    'This book brings groundbreaking research to bear on its discussion of actors, performances, audiences, and playhouses in Britain in the 1780s and 1790s … [a] rich and fascinating study …' Helen M. Burke, Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Theatre Research

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2018
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108458078
    • length: 313 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 153 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.5kg
    • contains: 5 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: theatre, performance and social assemblage theory
    1. Theatrical assemblages and theatrical markets
    2. Georgian performance and the assemblage model
    3. Theatrical celebrity as social assemblage: from Garrick to Kean
    4. Celebrity networks: Kean and Siddons
    5. A working theatrical assemblage:
    1790s representations of naval conflict
    6. Theatrical assemblage populations: the Turkish ambassador's visits to London playhouses, 1794
    7. Historicising the theatrical assemblage: Marie Antoinette and the theatrical queens
    8. The regulatory assemblage: The Roman Actor and the politics of self-censorship
    Appendix: actor-network theory.

  • Author

    David Worrall, Nottingham Trent University
    David Worrall is Professor of English at Nottingham Trent University. He is the author of Theatric Revolution: Drama, Censorship and Romantic Period Subcultures, 1773–1832 (2006), The Politics of Romantic Theatricality: The Road to the Stage (2007) and Harlequin Empire: Race, Ethnicity and the Drama of the Popular Enlightenment (2007). He has held fellowships from the Leverhulme Trust, Lewis Walpole Library, Folger Shakespeare Library and Huntington Library, and the Library Company of Pennsylvania.

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