The Birth of Modern Theatre : Rivalry, Riots, and Romance in the Age of Garrick book cover
1st Edition

The Birth of Modern Theatre
Rivalry, Riots, and Romance in the Age of Garrick

ISBN 9781138333604
Published September 27, 2018 by Routledge
200 Pages

FREE Standard Shipping
USD $46.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

The Birth of Modern Theatre: Rivalry, Riots, and Romance in the Age of Garrick is a vivid description of the eighteenth-century London theatre scene—a time when the theatre took on many of the features of our modern stage. A natural and psychologically based acting style replaced the declamatory style of an earlier age. The theatres were mainly supported by paying audiences, no longer by royal or noble patrons. The press determined the success or failure of a play or a performance. Actors were no longer shunned by polite society, some becoming celebrities in the modern sense.

The dominant figure for thirty years was David Garrick, actor, theatre manager and playwright, who, off the stage, charmed London with his energy, playfulness, and social graces. No less important in defining eighteenth-century theatre were its audiences, who considered themselves full-scale participants in theatrical performances; if they did not care for a play, an actor, or ticket prices, they would loudly make their wishes known, sometimes starting a riot.

This book recounts the lives—and occasionally the scandals—of the actors and theatre managers and weaves them into the larger story of the theatre in this exuberant age, setting the London stage and its leading personalities against the background of the important social, cultural, and economic changes that shaped eighteenth-century Britain.

The Birth of Modern Theatre brings all of this together to describe a moment in history that sowed the seeds of today’s stage.

Table of Contents

List of figures



Chapter 1: Dawn of an Era

Chapter 2: Garrick in love

Chapter 3: The cultural context

Chapter 4: The Licensing Act

Chapter 5: The actors’ strike

Chapter 6: An Irish interlude

Chapter 7: A visit to the theatre

Chapter 8: A community of friends and rivals

Chapter 9: Garrick onstage

Chapter 10: The actor as celebrity

Chapter 11: Garrick rules at Drury Lane

Chapter 12: Shakespeare mania

Chapter 13: The English Aristophanes

Chapter 14: Foote and the dangerous duchess

Chapter 15: A turbulent spirit

Chapter 16: The Macbeth riots

Chapter 17: End of an era



View More



Norman S. Poser is Professor Emeritus at Brooklyn Law School. His previous books include Lord Mansfield: Justice in the Age of Reason and Escape: A Jewish Scandinavian Family in the Second World War.


"This book vividly reconstructs their (the actors) lives, careers and occasional scandals." Times Higher Education

"The Birth of Modern Theatre is a vivid and easy to read account of eighteenth-century London and how this era marked the beginning of theater as we know it today." Broadway World

"The Birth of Modern Theatre is frequently an engaging read, as one would expect from a compendium of juicy thespian lore, including the flooding of Garrick’s Shakespeare Jubilee and the amputation of Foote’s foot: these, truly, are anecdotes not of an age, but for all time." James Horowitz, Sarah Lawrence College