< Theatre Notebook

Vol. 68, No. 2

2014

Articles

  1. When did George Beeston Join the King's Company? New Information in an Unpublished Letter

    Riki Miyoshi

    The theatrical career of the Restoration actor George Beeston (fl. 1660?-75) is shrouded in mystery. In particular, the lack of details as to when he joined Thomas Killigrew’s acting troupe in London is the cause of much confusion and debate amongst theatre historians. Among the Carte papers, however, held in the Special Collections and Western Manuscripts at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, is a hitherto unpublished letter that sheds new light on the matter. There are many disparate accounts as to which theatrical season George Beeston joined the King’s Company. The Lord Chamberlain’s accounts show that George Beeston was not an official member of the company until August 1669 (qtd. in Biographical Dictionary of Actors 1:413). Yet John Downes, contemporary stage prompter and theatre historian, made a reference to a “Beeston” entering the roster of Killigrew’s troupe as early as 1663 (7). Allardyce Nicoll claimed George was “certainly at the Theatre Royal at the beginning of 1663” (298). More recent scholarship has come to prefer a cautionary halfway point between the two possibilities. Robert D. Hume and Judith Milhous wrote, “George had definitely joined by 1667” and the writers of the Biographical Dictionary of Actors similarly asserted, “He [George Beeston] was certainly the page in The Black Prince on 19 October 1667 at Bridges Street” (Milhous and Hume 7; BDA 1:413).

  2. Drawing in a Theatre: Peacham, de Witt, and the Table-book

    June Schlueter

    In 1994, Peter Stallybrass, Roger Chartier, J. Franklin Mowery, and Heather Wolfe published an essay in Shakespeare Quarterly on “Hamlet’s Tables”, illuminating a practice and a technology that appear to have been ubiquitous in early modern England but that had previously eluded scholars. The essay speaks of the many references in early modern literature to “tables”, “writing-tables”, and “table-books”, small notebooks with waxed pages that enabled one to take notes or sketch pictures with a metal- point stylus. Such drawings were erasable: once the notetaker copied his notes onto ordinary paper ­ perhaps organizing them for insertion in a commonplace book ­ he could remove the original notes with a wet fingertip or sponge and reuse the tables. The invention spoke to the ingenuity of the period, which clearly needed a convenient, portable writing technology. When one traveled, for instance, the conventional tools of writing ­ paper, pen, ink, and an inkhorn ­ could not easily be managed, nor did one always have at his disposal a table and stool. Table-books, sized to fit in one’s pocket and contained within stiff boards, enabled the owner to write without paper, pen, and ink, with the surface of its covers for support.

  3. Pierrots Perfected: Louis Rehil and Artistic Developments in Concert Party Entertainment on the London & Provincial Stage, 1900-1930

    Bernard Ince

    In the Foreword to the late Clarkson Rose’s informative book Beside the Seaside, the theatre historian W. Macqueen-Pope described the concert party genre as the “Cinderella of the Theatrical Art” and “sadly neglected”, but asserted that “in no branch is more expert knowledge and wider talent required” (9). This book, published in 1960, followed the earlier well-known works of Ernest Short, and in particular of Christopher Pulling, that touch briefly on aspects of concert party history within the wider context of popular entertainment (Short and Compton-Rickett 242-49; Short 147-56; Pulling 143- 65). The subject of concert party immediately evokes the spectacle of the Pierrot troupe entertaining young and old from a seaside pitch, or of the costume concert party performing at a Spa or Pier Pavilion, powerful images integral to the social and cultural history of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The latter period experienced the rapid growth of an industry whose importance to the local economy was recognised as early as 1910 (Robins 26-28). This dynamic was encouraged in part by the Urban District Councils whose system of competitive tendering for a Pierrot pitch or beach space generated valuable seasonal revenue (see for example Stage, 2 Nov. 1911: 33). Concert and alfresco entertainments were also of social importance as an outlet for all classes as leisure time increased, and the transport network expanded to support coastal enterprises (Walton 27, 94; Nield 96-104). The music publishing industry also benefitted since the songs composed by artists were lucrative not only for themselves but also for their publishers (Pulling 236-42). No comprehensive history of the genre has been written however, and although several valuable publications for the general reader have been published in recent years,2 academic interest is only now emerging as exemplified by David Calvert’s work on the British Pierrot tradition.

BOOK REVIEWS

The Quality of Mercy: Reflections on Shakespeare

Peter Brook

Finding Sampson Penley

Alan Stockwell

Edwin Booth A Biography and Performance History

Arthur W. Bloom

Putting on Panto to Pay for the Pinter

Chris Abbott

Theatre, Performance and Analogue Technology: Historical Interfaces and Intermedialities

Kara Reilly (ed.)

British Avant-Garde Theatre

Claire Warden

Passionate Playgoing in Early Modern England

Allison P. Hobgood

When did George Beeston Join the King’s Company? New Information in an Unpublished Letter –§– Drawing in a Theatre: Peacham, de Witt, and the Table-book –§– Pierrots Perfected: Louis Rehil and Artistic Developments in Concert Party Entertainment on the London & Provincial Stage, 1900-1930.

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