Harley Granville-Barker: A Preface to Modern Shakespeare

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1st Edition

230 x 150 mm. 240pp Illustrated.... [In stock in Australia, for immediate delivery]

Although scholars and theatre historians agree that Granville Barker's place in the history of the modern theatre is a central one, scholarship has not yet accorded him the detailed attention he deserves.

In this, the first comprehensive study of Barker's Shakespeare productions and criticism, Christine Dymkowski examines both his theory and his practice. Among many other achievements, Barker's influence on the modern understanding and performance of Shakespeare's plays has been crucial and pervasive: not only did he demolish the pictorial tradition, restore the complete texts, and establish natural and rapid speech in the acting of Shakespeare's plays, he also proved Shakespeare's case as a playwright, thus establishing performance as an integral element in the interpretation of a play's meaning.

Before exploring Barker's innovations, the author first establishes their context, outlining the state of Shakespeare production in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and exploring the theatrical experiments of William Poel and Gordon Craig, both of whom influenced Barker.

Using promptbooks and reviews to reconstruct their significant aspects, Dr. Dymkowski next examines in detail Barker's Savoy productions of The Winter's Tale, Twelfth Night (1912), and A Midsummer Night's Dream (1914), which shattered the prevailing scenic tradition. She evaluates their originality and contemporary reception as well as their influence on modern staging; to determine the extent of such influence, important points of comparison are made between Barker's Dream and Peter Brook's famous production of 1970.

The principles behind Barker's Savoy productions are made explicit through discussion of his Shakespeare criticism. Because Barker was a prolific writer and most readers are familiar with the Prefaces, the author focuses instead on his less well-known articles, books, lectures, and reviews, outlining the content and development of his ideas about Shakespeare and evaluating their worth.

The relationship between Barker's theory and his own practice is further explored in an extensive discussion of the Preface to King Lear and the 1940 production at the Old Vic that it inspired and which Barker directed. A wealth of documents records this production and John Gielgud's performance as Lear: an unpublished reconstruction of the play by Hallam Fordham and Gielgud himself, letters and notes from Barker to Gielgud, photographs taken during actual performance, actors' memoirs, contemporary reviews, and subsequent criticism; all these are marshalled for a thorough analysis of the interplay between literary criticism and actual production. The book contains more than 40 photographs of the productions discussed and several reproductions of sketches from the Savoy promptbooks.

Harley Granville Barker is certain to interest not only students and teachers of Shakespeare and drama, but also anyone with an interest in the theatre, whether casual or professional.
^ Drama ^ Shakespeare

(9780918016829)

SKU 9780918016829
Barcode # 9780918016829
Artist / Author Christine DYMKOWSKI

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