Category: The London Stage 1920–1929


Here’s a review in The Year’s Work in English Studies (2016):

“J.P. Wearing’s epic series of reference books on the London stage has proved an invaluable resource for theatre scholars since it first started to appear in the 1970s. Covering details about productions at every major London theatre from the 1890s to the 1950s, The London Stage: A Calendar of Plays and Players eventually spanned sixteen volumes. The indexes have now been republished in two monumental editions, which retain the same chronological divisions into decades (1890-9, 1900-0, etc.) with related material. This new publication also includes four key indexes to aid information-gathering: general, genre, theatre, and title. While there has been the occasional quibble about discrepancies with production figures, Wearing’s work remains the most reliable and informative source on plays in London during the first half of the twentieth century, and many will find this two-volume edition of great help.”

I see that Harry Stopes-Roe died recently. Not mentioned in the obituary in the Daily Telegraph was his supposed co-authorship with his famous mother of a play. The latter was entitled Buckie’s Bears , a play for children, by “Erica Fay” [Marie Stopes] and “Harry Buffkins” [Harry Verdon Stopes-Roe] which was performed at the Royalty Theatre on 26 December 1931 and ran for 25 matinee performances. The play was revived five times during the 1930s. Harry was six when the play was first staged so it seems likely that his mother was largely responsible for the finished work. Given her views on eugenics, there is perhaps a touch of irony in her authorship of a children’s play. Her views on birth control found expression in Our Ostriches, a play of modern life, first performed at the Court Theatre on 24 November 1923, and revived at the Royalty on 7 May 1930.

 

Theatre in London has celebrated a rich and influential history, and in 1976 the first volume of J. P. Wearing’s reference series provided researchers with an indispensable resource of these productions. In the decades since the original calendars were produced, several research aids have become available, notably various reference works and the digitization of important newspapers and relevant periodicals.

Spanning 1890 through the 1950s, all seven volumes of The London Stage series have been revised, corrected, and expanded. In addition, approximately 20 percent of the material—in particular, information about adaptations and translations, plot sources, and comment information—is new.

Although each volume contains indexes specific to that decade, The London Stage 1890–1959: Accumulated Indexes combines all of the indexes into one comprehensive resource for more efficient research. For example, those wishing to locate all the references to a particular actor, play, or theatre whose history spanned more than one decade will find all of the entries listed in this set.

This set includes four key indexes: general, genre, theatre, and title.

  • The general index consists of numerous subject entries on such topics as acting, audiences, censorship, costumes, managers, performers, prompters, staging, and ticket prices. With approximately 40,000 people listed, this is the largest single source of theatrical personnel on the London stage during this period.
  • The genre index comprises all entries for production types, including comedies, dramas, farces, and tragedies, as well as ballets, operas, adaptations, foreign works, pantomimes, and translations.
  • The theatre index features every building to stage a production, from the Adelphi to Wyndham’s.
  • The title index cites 14,000 productions, identifying every work produced on stage from Domestic Economy in January 1890 to When in Rome in December 1959.


As a supplement to the individual volumes, The London Stage 1890–1959: Accumulated Indexes will be of value to scholars, theatrical personnel, librarians, writers, journalists, and historians.

Theatre in London has celebrated a rich and influential history, and in 1976 the first volume of J. P. Wearing’s reference series provided researchers with an indispensable resource of these productions. In the decades since the original calendars were produced, several research aids have become available, notably various reference works and the digitization of important newspapers and relevant periodicals.The second edition of The London Stage 1920–1929: A Calendar of Productions, Performers, and Personnel provides a chronological calendar of London productions from the first of January, 1920, through the 31st of December, 1929. The volume chronicles more than 4,000 productions at 51 major central London theatres during this period. For each production the following information is provided:

  1. Title
  2. Author
  3. Theatre
  4. Performers
  5. Personnel
  6. Opening and Closing Dates
  7. Number of Performances


Other details include genre of the production, number of acts, and a list of reviews. A comment section includes other interesting information about the production, such as plot description, first-night reception by the audience, noteworthy performances, staging elements, and details of performances in New York either prior to or after the London production.

Among the plays staged in London during this decade were Bulldog Drummond, The Emperor Jones, The Enchanted Cottage, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Hay Fever, Saint Joan, Six Characters in Search of an Author, as well as numerous musical comedies (British and American), foreign works, operas, and revivals of English classics.

A definitive resource, this edition revises, corrects, and expands the original calendar. In addition, approximately 20 percent of the material—in particular, information of adaptations and translations, plot sources, and comment information—is new. Arranged chronologically, the productions are fully indexed by title, genre, and theatre. A general index includes numerous subject entries on such topics as acting, audiences, censorship, costumes, managers, performers, prompters, staging, and ticket prices. The London Stage 1920-1929 will be of value to scholars, theatrical personnel, librarians, writers, journalists, and historians.

Review:

Opening a new or revised reference work is like opening an unearthed treasure. You never know what’s inside, but you know the baubles will bedazzle. The London Stage does not disappoint. Herewith each volume covers over 4,000 productions at more than three score theaters in the Bard’s hometown, so to speak. The tome—and it is a doorstopper weighing in at about seven pounds—provides first night details of plays over a decade, with one volume covering 1920-1929 and the second covering 1930-1939. Productions are arranged chronologically followed by the title of the work, genre, author, theater length of run, male and female cast members, production staff, plot précis, bibliography of reviews, and comment. The last ranges from what a reviewer might have thought, audience reception, and the like. Wearing gleaned the information from over a dozen specialized theater reviewing media, newspapers, nearly a dozen libraries and or archives, ranging from The British Library to Theatre Collection of Bristol University, and a half dozen specialized reference sources (e.g., Grove’s Who’s Who in Theatre). In other words, there may not be more comprehensive guides available. These works are a must-have for theater departments, and really any library interested in play productions.
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