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Reflecting the Audience

London Theatregoing, 1840-1880

Jim Davis

Publication Year: 2005

This innovative work begins to fill a large gap in theatre studies: the lack of any comprehensive study of nineteenth-century British theatre audiences. In an attempt to bring some order to the enormous amount of available primary material, Jim Davis and Victor Emeljanow focus on London from 1840, immediately prior to the deregulation of that city's theatres, to 1880, when the Metropolitan Board of Works assumed responsibility for their licensing. In a further attempt to manage their material, they concentrate chapter by chapter on seven representative theatres from four areas: the Surrey Theatre and the Royal Victoria to the south, the Whitechapel Pavilion and the Britannia Theatre to the east, Sadler's Wells and the Queen's (later the Prince of Wales's) to the north, and Drury Lane to the west.

Davis and Emeljanow thoroughly examine the composition of these theatres' audiences, their behavior, and their attendance patterns by looking at topography, social demography, police reports, playbills, autobiographies and diaries, newspaper accounts, economic and social factors as seen in census returns, maps and transportation data, and the managerial policies of each theatre.

Published by: University of Iowa Press

Front Matter

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Contents

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pp. v-

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-viii

Any study of nineteenth-century theatre owes an inestimable debt of gratitude to Michael Booth. He pointed the way and has remained a friend and mentor during the long gestation period of this book. We also are immensely grateful to friends and colleagues who have...

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Introduction

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pp. ix-xiv

The aim of this book is to fill a very obvious gap — the lack of any fulllength study of nineteenth-century British theatre audiences. Insofar as a comprehensive study would be impossible in one short book, we have limited our work to one city, London, and to the period from 1840...

Part One. The Surrey-Siders

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1 The Surrey and the Victoria Theatres

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pp. 3-38

The late eighteenth century saw an expansion in the population of London, which was felt particularly south of the Thames in the expanding communities of Southwark and Lambeth. Migration from the home counties and the west...

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Part Two Orientalism and Social Condescension

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pp. 41-54

In 1858 two large, ornate theatres in the East End of London opened after rebuilding: the Pavilion in Whitechapel and the Britannia in Hoxton. Both were considered as elaborate as any West End theatre, for no expense had been spared and the most up-to-date building technologies...

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2 The Pavilion Theatre, Whitechapel

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pp. 55-72

The history of the Pavilion Theatre compels us to challenge the conventions through which East End audiences were usually depicted. Situated opposite the London Hospital and on the site of a former clothing factory 1 in the busy

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3 The Britannia Theatre

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pp. 73-96

In 1840 Samuel Lane became the proprietor of the Britannia Tavern, located in Hoxton Old Town, in the central area of Shoreditch. The first saloon theatre associated with the tavern, built with a loan from the brewers, Elliots’, was opened on Easter

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Part Three. Myth and Nineteenth-Century Theatre Audiences

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pp. 97-107

Narratives of Victorian theatre history, both in the nineteenth century and in early twentieth-century accounts, such as those of Nicoll and Rowell, have created an orthodox, yet mythologized picture of a progression towards the restoration of literary drama, improved standards...

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4 Sadler’s Wells Theatre

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pp. 108-136

If for the moment we question the veracity of miraculous transformation, the only concrete evidence we can accept is Phelps’s eighteen-year management of a suburban theatre whose repertoire between the years 1844 and 1862 included almost the...

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5 The Queen’s/Prince of Wales’s Theatre

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pp. 137-164

The Queen’s Theatre was the only neighborhood theatre within the borough of St. Pancras, which stretched from Hampstead to Camden and Regent’s Park and into the vicinity of Tottenham Court Road and areas north of Oxford...

Part Four ‘‘Theatric Tourists’’ and the West End

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6 The West End,

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pp. 167-192

The West End, an area demarcated less by its geography and demography than by its cultural and commercial status, emerged in the period 1840 to 1880. Strictly speaking, at the turn of the nineteenth century, the west end of London...

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7 A National Drama: A National Theatre and the Case of Drury Lane

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pp. 193-225

The year 1843 was a watershed for the large patent theatres. No longer able to command by right, they also came to realize that the market for ‘‘legitimate’’ drama was shrinking. Or rather that they would need to ask whether there was a...

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Conclusion

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pp. 226-230

London theatre audiences in the mid-nineteenth century were so diverse that generic definitions are clearly inappropriate. This diversity existed not only across London but also within specific theatres and neighborhoods. Indeed, London theatre audiences were far more mobile...

Notes

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pp. 231-278

Bibliography

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pp. 279-288

Index

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pp. 289-299

Studies in Theatre History & Culture

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pp. 316-317


E-ISBN-13: 9781587294020

Publication Year: 2005