Tag Archive: Theatrical biography


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 1930–1939: A Calendar of Productions, Performers, and Personnel provides a chronological calendar of London shows from the first of January, 1930, through the 31st of December, 1939. The volume chronicles more than 4,250 productions at 61 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, 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 The Barretts of Wimpole Street, French without Tears, George and Margaret, The Greeks Had a Word for It, Laburnum Grove, Lady Precious Stream, The Late Christopher Bean, Love on the Dole, Me and My Girl, Private Lives, and 1066 and All That, as well as numerous musical comedies (British and American), foreign works, operas, ballets, 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 shows 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 1930-1939 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.
American Reference Books Annual

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.
American Reference Books Annual

From Santa Monica Press: The Shakespeare Diaries: A Fictional Autobiography

The Shakespeare diaries : a fictional autobiographyBlending fact with fiction and written in diary form, this unique biography of Shakespeare encapsulates his life like never before: from his views on daily events to vivid impressions of the Elizabethan era and his role within such a world. Delightfully whimsical, this distinctive life story provides answers to questions such as What was Shakespeare thinking while he wrote Hamlet? What did he and Ben Jonson talk about when they were having a drink together? Was there really a “Dark Lady”? and What might Shakespeare have said to the formidable Elizabeth I? Incorporating fragments of lines and phrases from The Bard’s plays and poems, this portrait will seize readers with its fresh, offbeat approach to the man and his work. Over fifty pages of fascinating endnotes provide further annotation and information for readers who want to know even more about Shakespeare’s life, work, and times.”

“J.P. Wearing’s The Shakespeare’s Diaries…is a genuine work of scholarly imagination…a work of prodigious research, based on all the facts we know about Shakespeare’s life. The book is crammed with fascinating incident…there is much engaging stuff about his relations with the actors in his company, with the Dark Lady (Aemilia Lanier) who deceived him with Southampton, and with such fellow playwrights as Ben Jonson and John Marston…The Diary is crammed full of plague and deaths and burials, as well as gossip about the great and the near great, including the Essex Rebellion and the War of the Theatres. Shakespeare comes across as a mild, gentle, and generous human being.” Robert Brustein.

From the Broadview Press, Canada:

Arthur W. Pinero, The Second Mrs. Tanqueray, a critical and contextual edition.

The second Mrs. TanquerayThe Second Mrs Tanqueray was the theatrical sensation of the London stage in 1893. It established Pinero as the leading English dramatist of serious, “problem” plays, and created a star out of Mrs. Patrick Campbell in the title role. The play recounts the marriage of a “woman with a past” and how it fails because of the double standard of morality applied unequally and hypocritically by Victorian society to men and women. This edition includes a thoroughly revised text based on the author’s manuscript, prompt copy for the first production, and published first edition; it also incorporates pertinent stage directions from the first production. The critical introduction examines all facets of the play and its production, and the appendices make accessible a wide variety of hard-to-find contemporary contextual materials related to the play.

“Although I have known this play for many years, J.P. Wearing’s introduction sheds new light on many interesting aspects of the piece, which I look forward to teaching afresh with the benefit of this text. The footnotes and the supplementary material all help in understanding the play, placing it in the social and legal context of its day. Not that it is a mere period piece; Pinero’s skill as a playwright is impressive, and one hopes that this edition will encourage new productions.” Richard Foulkes, Professor, University of Leicester

“A century and more after the fact, A. W. Pinero’s most penetrating play, The Second Mrs Tanqueray, has now been given a full-dress evaluative and contextual editorial treatment that does complete justice to its subject. J. P. Wearing, editor of Pinero’s letters, has brought his finely honed scholarly skills and broad knowledge of English theatre and culture to the task of presenting the single most authoritative text of Pinero’s play in existence and surrounding it with several sets of informative critical, social, and cultural writing, along with a comprehensive introduction, chronology, and bibliography. An immense amount of research lies behind this enterprise, and a great range of potential readers, from undergraduate and graduate students to historians and critics, will be the beneficiaries.” Joseph Donohue, Professor Emeritus, University of Massachusetts

Bernard Shaw: Arms and the Man. London: Methuen Drama, 2008.

Arms and the man : a pleasant play“This Shaw play must be one of the funniest written in the last 100 years. It has you running breathlessly to keep up with its logic” (The Guardian) Arms and the Man has proved to one of Shaw’s most popular plays, challenging notions of romance, bravery, cowardice, patriotism, and loyalty. This is a fresh, up to date and accessibly written critical edition for literature and drama students. An authoritative and academically rigorous edition, edited by leading Shaw scholar, J.P Wearing, under the guidance of the advisor to the Shaw Estate, Len Connolly. Students will find a wealth of information to guide their studies: an extended introduction exploring theatrical and historical context, critical reactions, background on the author and stage history. It also includes Shaw’s original Preface, and the play itself contains numerous notes and explanations throughout to aid the student’s understanding.

Bernard Shaw: On War. London: Hesperus Press, 2009. Foreword by Philip Pullman.

On war by Bernard ShawAn anthology of extracts from plays, books, pamphlets, speeches, and letters that reflect Shaw’s wide-ranging views on war, beginning in 1894 and end ending in 1949.

Contents:
Arms and the Man, Act I; The Boer War; The Boer War Revisited; Man and Superman, Act III, “Don Juan in Hell”; Major Barbara, Act III; “Armaments and Conscription: A Triple Alliance against War”; Common Sense About the War; O’Flaherty, V.C.: A Recruiting Pamphlet; “Conscientious Objectors”; Shaw and a Zeppelin; “The Emperor and the Little Girl”; “Joy Riding at the Front”; On the Death of Mrs Patrick Campbell’s Son; War Issues for Irishmen; Heartbreak House, Preface; Saint Joan, Preface; The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism and Capitalism,”Empires in Collision”; “This Danger of War”; “Theatres in Time of War”; “Uncommon Sense About the War”; “The Unavoidable Subject”; Wartime Life in the Country; ” Military and Non-Military Objectives”; “The Atomic Bomb”; Geneva, Preface; “Nuremberg”; Farfetched Fables; “Atomic Welfare.”

“For such a slender volume, it’s a telling and balanced collection. Editor J.P. Wearing ably shows that Shaw was capable of being wonky in his logic; he often appeared to show traces of admiration for Stalin and even, to an extent, Hitler, though this declined rapidly as the second world war progressed. Most of the time, the anthology concentrates on his strengths as a writer: his wit and insight, his equal interest in both the political and human ramifications of conflict, his ability to rattle. . . . Thoughtfully compiled” (Natasha Tripney, Observer, 19 September 1910).

Bernard Shaw and Nancy Astor. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005.

Bernard Shaw and Nancy Astor

The selected correspondence between Bernard Shaw and Nancy Astor who enjoyed a close friendship for over twenty years, from the late 1920s to Shaw’s death in 1950.

American and British Theatrical Biographies An Index – 2 Volumes, 2nd Edition. Lanham: Scarecrow Press, 2014.

American and British theatrical biographies : an index

In 1979, Scarecrow Press published J. P. Wearing’s American and British Theatrical Biography: A Directory, which enabled users to quickly locate biographical information about figures—both major and minor—who are or were connected with British and American theatre. In American and British Theatrical Biographies: An Index, Wearing has revised and extensively expanded the previous work.

This edition draws upon more than 130 sources and 500 volumes that have been surveyed and indexed, providing information on more than 90,000 individuals from the earliest times to the present. For each person listed in the index, the following is provided where available:

  • Name (with cross-references to stage names, pseudonyms, etc.)
  • Birth and death date
  • Nationality
  • Theatrical occupation(s)
  • Codes to sources containing more extensive biographical information


While the focus of the index is on American and British figures working in live theatre before paying audiences, “foreign” personalities are included when the sources surveyed make some mention of their contribution to the British or American theatre. American and British Theatrical Biographies: An Index also embraces the spheres of ballet, opera, music, circus, and music halls. This comprehensive index is a useful source for scholars, theatrical personnel, theatre students, librarians, writers, and theatre historians.