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Teaching Romanticism XXVIII: Drama, part 4

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As part of this ongoing series on Teaching Romanticism we will consider the ways in which we lecture on and discuss individual authors, whether during author-specific modules or broader period surveys. I thought it would be particularly useful to hear about which texts educators use and in what context, whether they place certain poems or prose works against those of other writers, or use contemporary or modern theoretical texts, or something else entirely. For this strand of blog posts I invite academics across the world to share their advice and tips on any aspect that interests them about teaching Romanticism. Many thanks to all of those who answered my call through NASSR-L, The BARS Review, and elsewhere (lightly edited samples are reproduced below with permission of the authors). Please do feel free to contact me with proposals for future subjects. We will be considering a range of writers, canonical and non-canonical alike, in the coming months. This eight-part issue was edited by Dana Van Kooy.


Franca Dellarosa (Aldo Moro University): Teaching the Illegitimate: A London Street Scene and Other Stratagems[1]

 

Abstract: Jane Moody’s inspirational and groundbreaking study Illegitimate Theatre in London (2000) offers the entry point for this exploration of approaches to teaching students about illegitimate theatre during the Romantic period. John Orlando Parry’s watercolor painting known as A London Street Scene or The Poster Man (1835) offers an illuminating case study. As an enthralling product of late Romantic-era visual culture, it typifies its illegitimate affiliation in the palimpsest-like quality of the countless playbills advertising theatrical spectacles, pantomimes, and performances of all sorts. As such, it is a rewarding teaching tool, which encourages students to access and experience the multifarious, wildly imaginative world of illegitimate theatrical culture.

 

I still have a very vivid image of Jane Moody in my mind, back in May 2004, when, alongside a jolly academic company gathered in one of our biggest classrooms at the University of Bari on the occasion of our Spring Seminars on Romanticism, she performed one of the key roles in an extraordinary mock-trial, which took place before a cheerful and rather vocal group of Italian students. The trial opposed the contending forces of legitimate theatre, in the person of Keir Elam, and the champion of illegitimate—Jane Moody, of course—with Timothy Webb enjoying the role of the impartial judge; the audience of students and colleagues taking sides accordingly. The trial’s conclusion was absolutely even, after all. The real achievement was the shared pleasure of playfully involving the students in a genuine imaginative process aimed at experiencing that complex interplay of unstable socio-historical circumstances, transnationally circulating cultural models, and extensive experimentation in dramatic forms, marking the boundaries of Romantic-period British theatrical culture.[2]

By designating a complex, multifaceted set of phenomena, the notion of illegitimate theatre incorporates the nexus of institutional, political, and generic conditions occurring at that specific historical contingency. The emergence of “illegitimate” and increasingly competitive minor theatres was central to a profound mutation in British theatrical culture during the late Georgian period. The conflict between London’s “legitimate” patent playhouses—Covent Garden and Drury Lane, with the addition of the Haymarket for the summer season—and the rising “illegitimate”, i.e., unlicensed, theatres accounts not only for the institutional intricacies marking that phase in British theatre history, but also for the “proliferation” of dramatic forms and genres at that time.[3] The prohibition against minor theatres performing tragedy and comedy—the forms of spoken drama that were the domain of legitimate theatres, and subject to the action of institutionalized censorship—triggered the propagation of alternative forms of spectacle, in which the formal ‘absence’ of the spoken word would be made up for through a variety of circumventing maneuvers, and where the power of the visual dominated.[4]

As Jane Moody taught us all, approaching illegitimate theatrical culture entails summoning a world “populated with hack playwrights and dramatic spies,” no less than “lords, sailors and Whitechapel butchers”:

As we enter this world, we discover playhouses magnificently decorated in gilt and rich velvet, and glimpse a stage displaying oriental palaces and naval victories, urban blackguardism and sensational crimes. [We discover] the wonderful excitement of theatregoing in early nineteenth-century London: the hyperbolic typography of playbills hurriedly posted on walls or jostling for space in shop windows; the sight of the Surrey Theatre, brilliantly lit up on the south bank, to celebrate the one-hundredth performance of Black-Ey’d Susan; the expectant crush of carriages, apprentices and placard-waving protestors around the Adelphi at Moncrieff’s Tom and Jerry. [5]

This description opens Moody’s foundational book, Illegitimate Theatre in London, 1770-1840—a tremendous source of knowledge and delight for scholars, which has shaped contemporary research and will continue to influence the field of Romantic-era theatre studies.[6] The book also offers a potentially inexhaustible guide for those who teach Romantic-period drama. Her words conjure up an entire world before our minds’ eyes—London’s teeming theatrical life, with its sundry sounds and colors, the tactile sensations, the buzz of real people and the roars of fictional wars; the vivid lighting of playhouses and the darkness of the London underworld; all evoking what effectively was—what must have been—a multi-sensorial experience. The complex of phenomena under examination demands that a class on illegitimate theatre necessarily take account of and lay emphasis on the multifaceted traits of performance, as well as, in the words of Elizabeth Fay, “the material conditions of playwriting, acting, and even attending theatres during the period.”[7]

Graphic documents offer instructive entry points to the study of illegitimate culture, particularly the extraordinary watercolor painting known as A London Street Scene, or The Poster Man, by musician, singer, and amateur artist John Orlando Parry. The painting is dated 1835, but was still a work in progress as late as 1837.[8] As a hyperrealist picture of London’s early nineteenth-century theatrical life, and a repository of illegitimate culture, it offers an important historical and imaginative underpinning for students to visualize the illegitimate culture surrounding London’s theatres.

John Orlando Parry, A London Street Scene. Reproduced with the permission of Alfred Dunhill Collection.

We are looking at a “London street scene”—where the main noun is colored with all the nuances of its semantic spectrum: scene as site and spot; as background and context; as an event or happening; as a view and/or spectacle; as performance and as a segment of a play. The unmistakable silhouette of St. Paul’s dome, peeping out at the upper left-hand corner from behind the wooden fence, which partially conceals what looks like ongoing renovation work, appears to be the only element in the picture that is untouched by the overwhelming impression of placards, posters, playbills. The viewer is captivated immediately—less by the human figures in the foreground than by the background wall itself. The Street Scene lends itself to a formidable variety of readings from diverse perspectives, including the cultural historian, the musicologist, and the theatre historian. The painting has proven a veritable goldmine for recent studies on early nineteenth-century and Victorian urban culture. I refer in particular to the work of Nicholas Daly and Gregory Dart, and to the exemplary work of Peter Sheppard Skærved of the Royal Academy of Music, where the meticulous partition of the canvas into a rectangular grid enables the orderly identification of the shows that come into view in each of the squares.[9]

From a theatre historian’s perspective, the painting offers an amazing metonymic image of London’s entertainment industry, where the generating principle had long proven to be a process Jane Moody described as “generic miscegenation.”[10] This phrase describes the increasingly competitive production of hybrid spectacles, which undermined the legitimate domain of patent theatres and were perceived as “monstrous” by writers and graphic satirists alike, marking as they did ‘the “disintegration of generic and social hierarchies.”[11] In the painting, this pervasive contamination of genres finds its objective correlative in the palimpsest-like trait of the countless playbills advertising theatrical spectacles, concerts, pantomimes, and performances of all sorts. In the classroom, the painting lends itself as both testimony to the stunning pervasiveness and variety of illegitimate culture, and an object for close reading and analysis. In each case, students focus on singular components, gaining an appreciation of “generic miscegenation” as a cultural process.

As another example of the extraordinary pedagogic potential of the canvas consider the following. On the left side, exactly overlooking the Dickensian urchin pickpocket in action, a fittingly dark and ominous poster announces, “The destruction of Pompeii every evening,”[12] ironically pointing to the ephemeral temporal condition, which, in different ways, pertains to both the London Street Scene and to the individual performance.[13] Volcano disaster entertainments made their appearance on the London stage and other public venues in the early nineteenth century, after the discovery of the Pompeii and Herculaneum archeological sites in 1748 prompted the rise of modern volcanology, with the scientific contribution and support of English Ambassador in Naples, Sir William Hamilton. As Nicholas Daly has discussed extensively, the popularity of volcano disaster entertainments reached its climax from the 1820s throughout the central decades of the nineteenth century, forcefully signifying ongoing historical change, and operating through various modes of transmutation between the material and the symbolic, by projecting, as he suggests, “the modern into the past and the forces of modernity onto the natural world.”[14]

Returning to the painting, on the right side, peering out from under two clearly more recent playbills, a poster emphatically advertises the “Adelphi Theatre Extraordinary Hit The Last Days of Pompeii!”—the “dramatic spectacle” (as it is neutrally described in the late nineteenth-century print edition) by John Baldwin Buckstone, after Bulwer’s “celebrated novel.”[15] The play had been first produced at the Adelphi on December 15, 1834, with a remarkable run of 64 nights,[16] and offers a perfect classroom case study of the generic hybridity typifying the domain of illegitimate culture. Examining and familiarizing themselves with the immense wealth of source material, including this painting, reviews, and paper advertisements, students can become more aware of the visual dimensions of illegitimate culture; its propensity for reflecting on current events; and as I have stressed in this essay, its dependence upon mixing multiple genre and media forms. Most of these materials are readily available on free or subscription-based online resources.[17]

While contemporary advertisements in the press consistently describe the dramatic spectacle as a “historical burletta,”[18] Allardyce Nicoll, in line with the Theatrical Examiner review  (21.12.1834), classifies the play as a melodrama, observing in another context that, as a rule, “these designations are in no way final, and are often indefinite. Thus Domestic and Romantic Dramas fall under the general heading of Melodrama, while a Burletta may be an Operatic Farce or a Burlesque or a Melodrama.”[19] Such a dazzlingly daunting observation from a twentieth-century magisterial voice of theatre history can serve as a catchphrase for a class on illegitimate theatre, in that it pins down hybridity as its defining trait, as does the iconic “Monster Melodrama” print, which appeared in the Satirist in 1807.[20]

Exceeding the space-time boundaries of the painting, as an indisputable sign of success and a hilarious ‘post-illegitimate’ coda, the comic treatment for the Pompeii narrative, Robert Reece’s burlesque The Very Last Days of Pompeii! (1872, Vaudeville Theatre), ideally completes a viable didactic itinerary through the illegitimate paradigm in the direction of self-reflexivity. William Buckstone’s “dramatic spectacle” had capitalized on the spectacular potential of the volcanic eruption in the concluding “grand tableau”: “At this moment, the fire breaks forth from the mountain, and the walls of the arena fall. Everybody cries, ‘The earthquake —the earthquake!’ […] All in confusion and screams till curtain falls on a grand tableau.”[21] Reece’s burlesque, as the sensational frontispiece of the print edition announces, enacts a complete “Bulwer-sement” of the classic drama, which includes the anti-climactic laying bare of the theatrical device:

Arbaces. (rising) Wretched Pompeians, accept my pity. For see the avenging mountain—
[A Man is seen trying to light a squib at the top of mountain]
All. (laughing) No, it don’t!
Glaucus. Not till the tag is spoken, friend, it won’t.[22]

As viewers and students of A London Street Scene, we have hardly scratched the surface of this palimpsest of playbills—from Thomas Morton’s musical drama The Slave, first performed in 1816, which is evoked twice, to Thomas Dartmouth Rice’s grim and disturbing Jim Crow entertainment in the barely visible playbill of the Adelphi,[23] to an ‘operatic extravaganza’ like William Thomas Montcrieff’s stage adaptation of Pierce Egan’s serialised novel Tom and Jerry, or Life in London. A little like Jerry, the country lad initiated to London Life by his cousin, friend, and sly mentor, Tom, we are “at fault,” in the attempt of doing full justice to the amazing richness of this visual text, which replicates the “illegitimate” phantasmagoria of London’s theatrical life in full and defiant prominence.

In the introduction to their collection of essays on Teaching Romanticism, David Higgins and Sharon Ruston discuss the challenges that the expansive conceptualization of “Romanticism(s)” has brought about in teaching syllabi. Significantly, Romantic theatre is the one genre-defined category included in the list of topics and “different teaching contexts,” which mark the “changing canon,” defined increasingly by its new subjects (laboring-class poets and poetry); new (or quasi new) categories of difference and related historical phenomena (gender and sexuality, slavery, empire and race); and new approaches to geopolitical formations, such as the Four Nations and European Romanticism.[24] In that same collection, Thomas Crochunis highlights the complex questions related to the need for anthologies, edited collections, and digital editions appropriate to the task of teaching Romantic theatre and drama.[25] Jeffrey N. Cox and Michael Gamer, in their beautiful introduction to their Broadview Anthology of Romantic Drama, inspiringly begin a complex and substantial piece of academic writing by inviting readers to imaginatively experience Romantic theatre: “Imagine yourself heading on foot through the largely dark streets of London on January 25th, 1813.”[26] (my italics) The architectural and performance space of Drury Lane as it appeared during this period; the theatre-related, thriving print culture—the playbill and the print pocket edition of the play, all items for sale outside the playhouse —are all conjured up as from the perspective of a time-travelling theatregoer. In terms of teaching efficacy, this suggestion aiming at the imaginative materialization of illegitimate culture strikes a crucial point, and leads us back where we started.

The full reclamation of illegitimate theatrical performance within a thoroughly nuanced historicizing process is one of the many legacies of Jane Moody’s scholarship.[27] Her work highlights the relevance of experiencing the vitality of illegitimate productions within Romantic-era theatrical culture in the pedagogic process. We can recreate this experience for our students in the classroom by focusing on specific material artifacts that reproduce the experience of illegitimate performances in the theatre, on the streets, and in print. In addition to artifacts like A London Street Scene, there are more and more opportunities to retrieve the music audiences would have listened to, supplementing the visual dynamics with sound recordings. The impressive recorded performance of Obi, available in part in the dedicated Praxis volume of the Romantic Circles site is a case in point.[28] The collaborative staging of both the pantomime and the melodrama actualizations of this key drama in the repertory of slavery-related plays entailed the involvement of students as well as professional actors and the academic staff in two different venues. Scenes, songs, and dances from the Obi pantomime and melodrama are encapsulated in a dramatic frame conceived in homage to the great African-American actor Ira Aldridge.[29] The Obi performance available for public use on the Romantic Circles site reminds us of the great relevance of ICT (Information and Communications Technology) tools in retrieving and resuscitating the dramatic life of texts from the distant past; at the same time, the virtual coexistence of its different forms in the digital space conveys the primary significance of genre in the performance and transmission of the values and ideology underlying the theatre of Romanticism.[30]

Acted performance is by definition a most effective tool for teachers and students. The relevance of experiencing the vitality of both legitimate and illegitimate Romantic-era theatrical culture in and outside the classroom comes to fruition in ­events such as the memorable premiere of Joanna Baillie’s mixed drama Witchcraft, held at the University of Bologna by Lilla Maria Crisafulli’s students in 2002. On a much less demanding but fully satisfying basis, I can add the performance experiments of the pantomimical sofa scene in Hannah Cowley’s comedy A Day in Turkey, or The Russian Slaves (1791), which proved to be extremely successful in a class of Italian undergraduate students and in a hilarious post-graduate seminar on Romantic theatre I held in Liverpool.[31] Retrieving the scores and recording the stage music of legitimate and illegitimate plays alike, thus making them available anew [32], are still other viable ways to bring Romantic-era theatrical culture back to life, as was also the case with the Slavery on Stage experiment [33]. These forms of documentation allow the repossessing of material traces of that world, in the same way as they take on supplementary life in an artifact like A London Street Scene.

 

Bibliography

“Adelphi.” Theatrical Examiner. 21.12.1834. The British Newspaper Archive. Adelphi Theatre Calendar. Accessed 24 January 2018. https://www.umass.edu/AdelphiTheatreCalendar/

Buckstone, John Baldwin. The Last Days of Pompeii. A Dramatic Spectacle in Three Acts. Taken from Bulwer’s celebrated Novel of the same Title, by J. B. Buckstone. First Produced at the Adelphi Theatre, Jan. 5, 1835. London: Dick’s Standard Plays No. 829, [1887].

Behrendt, Stephen. “Teaching Romanticism with ICT.” In Teaching Romanticism, edited by David Higgins and Sharon Ruston, 120-33.New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

Cox, Jeffrey N., and Michael Gamer, eds. The Broadview Anthology of Romantic Drama. Petersborough, Ontario: Broadview Press, 2003.

Cox, Jeffrey N. “Theatrical Forms, Ideological Conflicts, and the Staging of Obi,” Obi: A Romantic Circles Praxis Volume. August 2002. Accessed 30.1.2018 https://www.rc.umd.edu/praxis/obi/cox/cox.html

Crochunis, Thomas. “Romantic Theatre.” In Teaching Romanticism, edited by David Higgins and Sharon Ruston, 24-37. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

Daly, Nicholas. The Demographic Imagination and the Nineteenth-Century City: Paris, London, New York. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

—. “The Volcanic Disaster Narrative: From Pleasure Garden to Canvas, Page, and Stage,” Victorian Studies 53, no. 2 (Winter 2011): 255-85.

Dart, Gregory. Metropolitan Art and Literature, 1810-1840: Cockney Adventures. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Dellarosa, Franca. “‘All in silence mounts the lava’: Volcanic Imagery and Politics, 1820-1872.” In British Risorgimento II: Temperie politica e rappresentazioni simboliche, edited by Franca Dellarosa and Annamaria Sportelli, 221-34. Naples: Liguori, 2013.

—. Slavery on Stage: Representations of Slavery in British Theatre, 1760s-1830s. Bari: Edizioni dal Sud, 2009.

Elam, Keir. The Semiotics of Theatre and Drama, 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2003.

Eichhorn, Kate. “Archival Genres: Gathering Texts and Reading Spaces.” Invisible Culture: An Electronic Journal for Visual Culture, 12: 2008. Web.

The Examiner. 21 December 1834. The British Newspaper Archive.

Fay, Elizabeth. “Teaching the Ridiculous: Harlequin and Humpo;  or, Columbine by Candlelight!Teaching Romantic Drama. Ed. Thomas Crochunis. May 2011. Romantic Circles 4 (September 2017).  https://www.rc.umd.edu/pedagogies/commons/theatre

Figaro in London. 12 November 1836. Google Books.

Fischer-Lichte, Erika. The Routledge Introduction to Theatre and Performance Studies. New York: Routledge, 2014.

Gilmartin, Kevin, ed. Studies in Romanticism 54: 2 (Summer 2015): An Illegitimate Legacy: Essays in Romantic Theater History in Memory of Jane Moody.

Higgins, David, and Sharon Ruston, eds. Teaching Romanticism. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

Kucich, Greg. “Women’s Cosmopolitanism and the Romantic Stage: Cowley’s A Day in Turkey, or, The Russian Slaves.” In Poetic and Dramatic Forms in British Romanticism, edited by Franca Dellarosa, with an Introduction by Annamaria Sportelli, 79-98. Roma-Bari: Editori Laterza/University Press online, 2006.

Moody, Jane. Illegitimate Theatre in London, 1770-1840. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

—. “The Theatrical Revolution, 1776-1843,” in The Cambridge History of British Theatre, vol. 2: 1660 to 1895, edited by Joseph Donohue, 199-215. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

The Morning Post. 15 December 1834. The British Newspaper Archive.

Nicoll, Allardyce. A History of English Drama 1660-1900, vol. 4: Early Nineteenth-Century Drama. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1955.

Reece, Robert. The Very Last Days of Pompeii!: A New Classical Burlesque. London: Thomas Hailes Lacy, [n. d.].

“Romantic-Era Songs.” Accessed 11.03.2018

Rzepka, Charles, ed. Obi: A Romantic Circles Praxis Volume. (August 2002). Accessed 14.12.2017

Rzepka, Charles. “Introduction: Obi, Aldridge and Abolition,” Obi: A Romantic Circles Praxis Volume. (August 2002). Accessed 30.1.2018

Sheppard Skærved, Peter. John Orlando Parry: The Poster Man: A Snapshot of London’s Musical Life in 1835. Royal Academy of Music, December 2007.

Snowman, Janet. John Orlando Parry and the Theatre of London. London: Published by Janet Snowman, 2010.

Stein, Richard. Victoria’s Year: English Literature and Culture, 1837-1838. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987.

Waters, Hazel. Racism on the Victorian Stage: Representation of Slavery and the Black Character. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Wheeler, Roxann. The Complexion of Race: Categories of Difference in Eighteenth-Century British Culture. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000.

 

Notes

[1] This article is dedicated to the memory of Jane Moody. I would like to thank Dana Van Kooy for her meticulous editing, and for making points that have helped enhance my overall argument.

[2] That seminar was part of an Inter-University National Research Project (PRIN), which brought together a number of Italian universities to work on the new topic of Romantic Theatre, and led to lasting outcomes. Lilla Maria Crisafulli (Bologna) was principal investigator, and Annamaria Sportelli, the project leader in Bari and initiator of our Spring Seminars.

[3] Jeffrey N. Cox, Michael Gamer, “Introduction,” The Broadview Anthology of Romantic Drama (Petersborough, Ontario: Broadview Press, 2003), xviii.

[4] The restriction was in force until the 1843 Theatre Regulation Act. See Moody’s “Prologue” and Chapters 1 and 2 of Illegitimate Theatre in London, 1770-1840 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000) for a full discussion of the symmetric “invention” of illegitimate culture and “disintegration” of legitimate theatre. For a concise account, see her article “The Theatrical Revolution, 1776-1843,” in The Cambridge History of British Theatre, vol. 2, edited by Joseph Donohue (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 199-215.

[5] Jane Moody, Illegitimate Theatre in London, 1.

[6] The multifaceted impact of Illegitimate Theatre in London and Jane Moody’s subsequent research activity is outlined in Kevin Gilmartin’s “Introduction” to the special number of Studies in Romanticism 54: 2 (Summer 2015): An Illegitimate Legacy: Essays in Romantic Theater History in Memory of Jane Moody (1-9).

[7] Elizabeth Fay, “Teaching the Ridiculous: Harlequin and Humpo; or, Columbine by Candlelight!Teaching Romantic Drama. Ed. Thomas Crochunis. May 2011. Romantic Circles. 4 September 2017. https://www.rc.umd.edu/pedagogies/commons/theatre/HTML/commons4.2011.fay.html

[8] See Richard Stein, Victoria’s Year: English Literature and Culture, 1837-1838 (New York–Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), 286, n. 50; Janet Snowman, John Orlando Parry and the Theatre of London (London: Published by Janet Snowman, 2010), 36.

[9] See Gregory Dart, Metropolitan Art and Literature, 1810-1840: Cockney Adventures (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012); Nicholas Daly, The Demographic Imagination and the Nineteenth-Century City: Paris, London, New York (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015); Peter Sheppard Skærved, John Orlando Parry: The Poster Man: A Snapshot of London’s Musical Life in 1835 (London: Royal Academy of Music, December 2007).

[10] Moody, Illegitimate Theatre, 12.

[11] Moody, Illegitimate Theatre, 12-13.

[12] The poster may be referred to a diorama show of John Martin’s 1821 picture The Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum, exhibited at the Egyptian Hall. See Daly, The Demographic Imagination, 38.

[13] This is a concept I work on with my students at the beginning of my drama courses, particularly with undergraduate modules. I devote a number of preliminary classes to clarifying the key theoretical concepts in theatre, drama, and performance studies, independently of the selection of dramatic texts that are the object of the course. Keir Elam’s classic The Semiotics of Theatre and Drama, 2nd ed. (London-New York: Routledge, 2003), and Elizabeth Fischer-Lichte’s recent Routledge Introduction to Theatre and Performance Studies (London-New York: Routledge, 2014) have proved to be effective tools in the classroom to explore these aspects, through lectures supported by ppt. presentations, where I combine discussion of relevant theoretical passages with mainly visual exemplifications.

[14] See chapter 1 of Demographic Imagination in particular, and Daly’s earlier article “The Volcanic Disaster Narrative: From Pleasure Garden to Canvas, Page, and Stage,” Victorian Studies 53, no. 2 (Winter 2011): 221. I have dealt with the political implications of the imagery of the flaming mountain on the London stage in “‘All in silence mounts the lava’: Volcanic Imagery and Politics, 1820-1872,” in British Risorgimento II: Temperie politica e rappresentazioni simboliche, edited by Franca Dellarosa and Annamaria Sportelli (Naples: Liguori, 2013), 221-34.

[15] J. B. Buckstone, The Last Days of Pompeii. A Dramatic Spectacle in Three Acts. Taken from Bulwer’s celebrated Novel of the same Title, by J. B. Buckstone. First Produced at the Adelphi Theatre, Jan. 5, 1835 (London: Dick’s Standard Plays No. 829, [1887]).

[16] Allardyce Nicoll, A History of English Drama 1660-1900, vol. 4 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1955), 274.

[17] See Stephen Behrendt’s insightful observations on “Teaching Romanticism with ICT,” in Teaching Romanticism, ed. David Higgins, Sharon Ruston (Basingstoke-New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), 120-33.

[18] The Morning Post, 15 December 1834; The Examiner, 21 December 1834.

[19] Nicoll, History, 247.

[20] Moody, Illegitimate Theatre, 55-6. See also Cox and Gamer, “Introduction,” x.

[21] Buckstone, The Last Days, 15. The otherwise unsympathetic review in the Theatrical Examiner had remarked “the whole general array and splendour and fitting up of the stage, with the triumphant catastrophe at the close,” as contributing “a series of effects of great power and interest.” See “Adelphi,” The Examiner, 21 December 1834, 806.

[22] Robert Reece, The Very Last Days of Pompeii: A New Classical Burlesque (London: Thomas Hailes Lacy [n. d.]), 25. See Daly, Demographic Imagination, 41.

[23] The craze for blackface performance materialized in America in the late 1820s, with American actor T. D. Rice embodying the grotesque character of Jim Crow. Rice brought his blackface persona to London in 1836, where he performed both at the Surrey and the Adelphi in a variety of entertainments and slight plays. From the data provided in the Adelphi Theatre Calendar, the first performance of a Jim Crow entertainment appears to have taken place at the Adelphi on 6 November 1836. “The Adelphi has gained a valuable importation in the person of Mr. Rice, ‘the original Jim Crow,’” as Figaro in London was to remark, before abusively observing “He is a most perfect representative of nigger characters; that is to say, if niggers have any characters at all, which we are inclined very much to doubt.” See Figaro in London 258 (12 November 1836), 188. On Rice’s career in London, see Hazel Waters, Racism on the Victorian Stage: Representation of Slavery and the Black Character (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 94-113.

[24] Higgins and Ruston, “Introduction,” Teaching Romanticism, 1-8 (2). I assume the notion of “category of difference” in the sense discussed in Roxann Wheeler, The Complexion of Race: Categories of Difference in Eighteenth-Century British Culture (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000).

[25] Thomas Crochunis, “Romantic Theatre,” in Teaching Romanticism, ed. Higgins and Ruston, 24-37.

[26] Jeffrey N. Cox, Michael Gamer, “Introduction,” vii.

[27] Kevin Gilmartin, “Introduction,” 153.

[28] See Charles Rzepka, ed. Obi: A Romantic Circles Praxis Volume. August 2002.

[29] Charles Rzepka, “Introduction: Obi, Aldridge and Abolition,” Obi: A Romantic Circles Praxis Volume. The first staging of Obi: A Play in the Life of Ira Aldridge, the “Paul Robeson” of the 19th Century was at the Playwright’s Theater in Boston, on July 18, 2000. The second production was at Arizona State University, during the Conference of the North American Society for the Study of Romanticism (NASSR).

[30] See Cox, “Theatrical Forms, Ideological Conflicts, and the Staging of Obi,” Obi: A Romantic Circles Praxis Volume.

[31] I owe this ‘stratagem’ to Greg Kucich, who first experimented it during a one-day conference at the University of Parma in 2007, hosted by Diego Saglia. On the ‘illegitimate’ sofa scene in Cowley’s comedy, see Kucich, “Women’s Cosmopolitanism and the Romantic Stage: Cowley’s A Day in Turkey, or, The Russian Slaves”, in Poetic and Dramatic Forms in British Romanticism, ed. by Franca Dellarosa, with an Introduction by Annamaria Sportelli (Roma- Bari: Editori Laterza/University Press online, 2006), p. 96.

[32] As aims to do the website “Romantic-Era Songs, ” set up by Paul Douglass and Frederick Burwick, which collects music sheets and recordings of “Theater and Popular Songs, Catches, Airs, and Art Songs of the Romantic Period, as well as Some Later Settings of Lyrics and Poems of Romantic-Era Poets.” Accessed 11.03.2018. 2018. http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/douglass/music/index.html

[33] The recording of a number of musical pieces from the scores of the comic operas The Padlock (Charles Dibdin) and Inkle and Yarico, and the pantomime Obi (both by Samuel Arnold), was carried out by musicologist and performer Angela Annese, who took part in the project of my Slavery on Stage: Representations of Slavery in British Theatre, 1760s-1830s (Bari: Edizioni dal Sud, 2009). Here is a selection recorded from the original score of the pantomime Obi (Samuel Arnold, The Overture, Songs, Chorusses & Appropriate Music in the Grand Pantomimical Drama call’d Obi; or Three Finger’d Jack … Composed & Adapted to the Action by S. Arnold … with selections from the most Eminent Masters, arranged for the Voice & Piano Forte. Op. 48.  London: J. Longman, Clementi & Co, [1800]):

The directions in the original score, highlighting the correspondence between dramatic action and musical comment, are reported in square brackets as follows.
“The Spanish Guitar” (Rosa) 2’ 58’’
[(after the second verse) Here Jack sleeps – Groan from C.n Oxford – Jack awakes]
(Angela Annese, piano; Luciano Belviso, tenor; Alessandra Panaro, soprano)


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