Chapter

Shakespeare and The Victorian Stage

Richard Foulkes

in The Edinburgh Companion to Shakespeare and the Arts

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780748635238
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652297 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748635238.003.0017
Shakespeare and The Victorian Stage

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This chapter reports that by the nineteenth century, the position of Shakespeare as national icon was more firmly established. Yet that alteration in imaginings of Shakespeare was itself the product of concomitant tensions — a desire to keep Shakespearean performance within the capital and a move to extend performance into the provinces. It specifically presents an account of Shakespeare on the Victorian stage. It was ironic that, with both Samuel Phelps' and Charles Kean's managements at an end, the theatrical profession lacked a recognized leader at the time of the Shakespeare tercentenary of 1864. Shakespeare's own theatre had been genuinely popular. The irony was that the Victorian theatre, which differed from it in almost every respect (architecture, scenery, lighting, costumes, casting), had, nevertheless, also succeeded in creating a mass audience for his plays. The audience for Shakespeare's plays fragmented and gone was the genuine popularity of the Victorian decades.

Keywords: Shakespeare; Victorian stage; theatrical profession; Victorian theatre; mass audience; Shakespearean performance

Chapter.  10854 words. 

Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism

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