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130Victorian Review contemporary primary materials written on the spot in most corners of die imperial world. SALLY MITCHELL Temple University Michael R. Booth and Joel H. Kaplan, eds. The Edwardian Theatre: Essays on Performance and the Stage. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1996. XU + 243. $49.95 US (cloth). There seems something culturally archaic about periodizing theatrical (or literary) history by the comings and goings of English monarchs; as though the close economic and personal monitoring of public performance forged dirough early modern aristocratic and state patronage has survived unchanged: "Theatre Royal', indeed. Since Edward Vu reigned from 1901 to 1910, what we have in Booth and Kaplan's collection of essays are studies of facets of live theatre in the first decade of this century, which merely substitutes die mystique of numbers for tiiose of names. What I'd require is not only a snappy umbrella term (here supplied by the short-reigning monarch) but justification of why, in economic, industrial or dramaturgic terms, this decade deserves to be distinguished as a discrete 'period'. At die very least I'd like to find evidence of some kind of watershed in die fortunes of die British stage, and if residual patterns survived largely unmodified, diat too needs to be demonstrated. Of die eleven scholars here assembled, some do marshall arresting evidence that the Edwardian decade marked important industrial changes. Tracy C. Davis's chapter 'Edwardian Management and die Structures of Industrial Capitalism' is die most exciting of diese for the tough empirical research in business and labor history amassed to investigated die role of theatrical manageresses, 'the only example of women who were in large numbers up-front business executives in preFirst World War British history' (111). Monopoly capitalism's typical structures were employed by theatre managements as they, in common widi other industries, mutated from 'personal' to 'entrepreneurial' to 'managerial' enterprises (the terms are Alfred Chandler's). For die exact distinction between a theatrical impresario and an entrepreneur, this is the essay to consult. Why was die expected leap forward by theatrical women into management in the less restrictive 1890s legal environment not made? For most actress-businesswomen 'touring Reviews131 [remained] a consolation for the gender obstacles involved in entrepreneurship' (118). Davis's feminist Une of enquiry indicates how die new capital remained socially gendered, circulating informally in social as well as stricdy financial circles, hence the inability of the tight vertically-layered syndicates and their emergent professional managerial class to accommodate female capital or talent. She demonstrates this decade as marking a significant consolidation of the theatrical industry through die model of modern corporatized structures. David Mayer, writing of The Whip in its theatrical and film forms, alone treats that 'Edwardian' phenomenon pre-eminendy crucial to die fortunes of live theatre — the cinema. At the decade's beginning short films are shown in music halls and nickelodeons; at its end, despite theatre's vigorous response and maintenance of high artistic prestige, cinema is the mass performance form. Mayer takes up a point raised by Davis (127); it is die corporatization of pre-war business which enabled the eventual dominance of film over theatre, of Hollywood over Elstree. The paradigm shifts are economically driven, not the product of 'repertoire or audience's thirst for knowledge'. While noting the Procrustean anomoly of royalist theatrical taxonomy, Mayer is able to argue gracefully that the 1909 Drury Lane Whip is 'emblematic of a lavish era destined to succumb' (234), and righdy takes issue widi Vardac's tendentious teleology (audiences demanded 'realism', film could do it better) to show diat economics, not aesthetics, is where to look. Others manage their 'Edwardian' brief by applying strong primary research to decade-specific developments. Jim Davis sees the period as distinctive to the fortunes of East End tiieatres through die reign of the girl-who-done-him-wrong Melville melodramas at die cross-class Standard, and the collapse of local theatre under die impact of syndicated music hall. By 1912, he discerns, the East End's links with populist Victorian patterns was gone forever and die tiieatres ran 'a bland medley of entertainment' which was 'no longer organic but imposed on [local communities]' (217), excepting the Pavilion's...


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pp. 130-132
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