< Theatre Notebook
Vol. 67, No. 3
Shylock and the Use of Stage Doors
Given the source material, there was no possibility that Shylock could have functioned in The Merchant of Venice other than as the villain. Although the impression of villainy is mainly the result of his actions, it is reinforced by the language of the play, both that used by him and that used about him. More than this, however, I want to argue here that the theatrical space in which the play was first performed made its own contribution, even if subliminally, to the audience’s negative response to him. In particular, I hope to show that his status as villain is reinforced not just by the play’s imagery but by the way that some of that imagery is made visible and given a greater intensity through the actual structure of the Elizabethan stage. The stage doors, I shall argue, have a significance in this play greater than their essential function of enabling characters to enter and exit.
The Earliest Nuremberg Playbill
June Schlueter” . . . either there is an error in the dating on the playbill . . . or it is a fake”.
Such was the judgment of R.A. Foakes, who, in describing seventeenth- century theatrical activities at the Nuremberg fencing-house, identifies the problem of a surviving advertisement for Die Liebes Süssigkeit verändert sich in Todes Bitterkeit (Love’s Sweetness Turned To Death’s Bitterness) (350n48). In 1863, when Austrian Franz Eduard Hysel published his account of the Nuremberg theatre from 1612 to 1863, he included a facsimile, stating that the playbill, dated Wednesday, the 21st of April, was probably from 1628. That date became an established part of theatre history when Albert Cohn, in English Actors in Germany in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (1865), filled in the narrative:
The actors who were dismissed from Torgau in 1627 may perhaps have gone the following year to Nuremberg, where we meet with English Comedians in 1628. In April they acted a piece entitled Die Liebes Süssigkeit verendert sich in Todes Bitterkeit(Love’s sweetness turned into Deaths bitterness). We learn this from a very curious broadside, a sort of play-bill, which is preserved in the town-library of Nuremberg. (xcvii-xcviii) (Figure 1)
A Whiff of Lavender: the Theatre Ghost and the Redevelopment of the Bristol Old Vic
Catherine Hindson1819: Mr Mcready most respectfully acquaints the ladies and gentlemen of Bristol, and its vicinity, that during the vacation every possible exertion has been made to complete the decorations and embellishments of this theatre, in a style worthy the inhabitants of a city second only to the metropolis of the nation. (Theatre Royal Playbill)2011: In March 2011, we started work on a £19.26 million redevelopment project a scheme that has been promised to the city for almost 20 years. By 2016, when the redevelopment is completed … we will have created a landmark building for Bristol that will welcome audiences from across the country. (Bristol Old vic, 2012)
Considering its rich and often troubled histories of religious settlement, shipping industry, slavery and piracy, the city of Bristol is the source of surprisingly few persistent ghost tales. One of the few apparitions that have been consistently reported in the city is that of a woman at the eighteenth-century Theatre Royal on King Street, now part of the Bristol Old vic theatre complex. Anecdotes concerning Sarah, the Theatre Royal’s reported resident female spectre, are well known. Ghost tales about the venue feature on city tourist and ghost walks. Anecdotal accounts of the spectre recur in nineteenth and twentieth century publications about Bristolian and British hauntings. Many guidebooks to Bristol and the South West reference tales of the ghost in their entries on King Street and the theatre.
"A Triumph for Matcham's Sound Theatre Design": the Grand Opera House and the Staging of Opera in Belfast.
Belfast’s Grand Opera House (GOH) opened in 1895 and played a key role in the cultural life of the city throughout the twentieth century and up to the present day. The theatre provides a venue that can host visiting opera, ballet and drama companies, as well as various local ventures such as the Grand Opera Society of Northern Ireland (GOSNI) and Ulster Operatic’s light-opera productions.
Victorian architect Frank Matcham (1854-1920), who was responsible for some 150 theatres in the United Kingdom, designed the GOH, which today is rightly regarded as one of his finest theatres (Walker x. See Fig. 1). Just two of Matcham’s theatres were built in Ireland however: the GOH in Belfast and Dublin’s Theatre Royal, which closed its doors in 1934 and was demolished soon afterwards (Ryan 36). In fact, several of Matcham’s theatres no longer stand; as entertainment trends swayed toward the cinema screen during the 1950s and 1960s these ornate buildings no longer seemed to serve much of a purpose as far as the general public were concerned. The GOH survived only because it was taken over by Rank-Odeon in 1960 and converted into a cinema, which it remained until the building was closed in 1972.
Modern British Playwriting: The 1970s Voices, Documents, New Interpretations
Chris Megson (ed.)
Modern British Playwriting: The 1980s Voices, Documents, New Interpretations
Jane Milling (ed.)
Modern British Playwriting: The 1990s Voices, Documents, New Interpretations
Aleks Sierz (ed)
The Methuen Drama Guide to Contemporary British Playwrights
Martin Middeke, Peter Paul Schnierer, Aleks Sierz (ed.)
Politics, Poetics and Interdisciplinary Collaboration, 1966-2010
Anna Furse (ed.)
Shylock and the Use of Stage Doors –§– The Earliest Nuremberg Playbill –§– A Whiff of Lavender: the Theatre Ghost and the Redevelopment of the Bristol Old Vic –§– “A Triumph for Matcham’s Sound Theatre Design”: the Grand Opera House and the Staging of Opera in Belfast.