1st Edition

Theatrical Unrest Ten Riots in the History of the Stage, 1601-2004

By Sean McEvoy Copyright 2016
    196 Pages
    by Routledge

    196 Pages
    by Routledge

    Shortlisted for the 2017 Theatre Book Prize

    What is it about theatre, compared to other kinds of cultural representation, which provokes such a powerful reaction? Theatrical Unrest tells the compelling tales of ten riots whose cause lies on stage. It looks at the intensity and evanescence of the live event and asks whether theatre shares its unrepeatable quality with history.

    Tracing episodes of unrest in theatrical history from an Elizabethan uprising over Shakespeare's Richard II to Sikhs in revolt at Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti's Behzti, Sean McEvoy chronicles a selection of extreme public responses to this inflammatory art form. Each chapter provides a useful overview of the structure and documentation of one particular event, juxtaposing eyewitness accounts with newspaper reports and other contemporary narratives.

    Theatrical Unrest is an absorbing account of the explosive impact of performance, and an essential read for anyone interested in theatre’s often violent history.

    Chapter One: Raising the Dead: The Essex Rebellion of 1601 and Shakespeare’s King Richard II.

    Chapter Two: Passion and Revolt: Thomas Otway, Venice Preserv’d and the 1795 Westminster Riot.

    Chapter Three: ‘The Drama’s laws the Drama’s Patrons give’: The Covent Garden Old Price Riots of


    Chapter Four: ‘The Most Important Occasion of the Century’: Victor Hugo and the 1830 Battle of


    Chapter Five: Theatre’s Bloodiest Night: The New York Riots of 1849.

    Chapter Six: Stand-off at Primrose Hill: The Shakespeare Tercentenary of 1864.

    Chapter Seven: Representing a Nation: the Dublin Abbey Theatre Riots of 1907 and 1926.

    Chapter Eight: The French Republic under siege: Coriolanus in Paris, February 1934.

    Chapter Nine: Dishonour and Sacred Space: Behzti in Birmingham, 2004.


    Sean McEvoy teaches English at Varndean College in Brighton and at Murray Edwards College, Cambridge. He has written a number of books on the theatre, including Shakespeare: The Basics and Ben Jonson, Renaissance Dramatist.