The Birth Of Modern Theatre: Rivalry, Riots And Romance In The Age Of Garrick By Norman S. Poser On Sale Now!

The Birth of Modern Theatre: Rivalry, Riots and Romance in the Age of Garrick by Norman S. Poser (Routledge, Trade Paperback Original, 184 Pages, 12 b/w illustrations,) 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. The author shows how the acting style, status of the acting profession, power of the media, and sources of financial support-would all be recognizable to a 21st century observer.

Poser vividly describes the busy, thriving commercial society in Britain. He illustrates how theaters were beginning to make money, and actors were no longer seen as pariahs or vagrants but rather as celebrities in their own right. The press was becoming influential in the success or failure of a theatrical production, theater managers were depending on audiences rather than noble patrons for their support, and the acting style was becoming more natural and psychologically based, as opposed to the sonorous declamatory style of the previous age.

Poser did extensive research for the book in several libraries in the U.S. and Britain, exploring the strengths and weaknesses of the major personalities of that time. These include:

  • David Garrick, the charismatic actor, theater manager, and playwright,
  • Peg Woffington, the bewitching and promiscuous actress,
  • Charles Macklin, the surly, anti-social, occasionally violent but brilliant actor,
  • Kitty Clive, the outspoken comedian,
  • Samuel Foote, the witty satirist; and several others.

Poser delves into their friendships, rivalries, and relationships. He reveals scandalous stories set against the backdrop of a theater scene that was beginning to resemble today's show business world. It makes for fascinating reading.

Norman S. Poser is professor emeritus at Brooklyn Law School. He was born in London and lives in New York City.

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