Extraordinary Actors

Essays on Popular Performers

Edited by Martin Banham and Jane Milling

Extraordinary Actors
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Edited by Martin Banham and Jane Milling

Distributed for University of Exeter Press

288 pages | 20 illustrations | 9-3/10 x 6-1/5
Cloth $95.00 ISBN: 9780859897358 Published January 2004 For sale in North and South America only
Dangerous, outrageous, comic and committed, the extraordinary performers collected here have altered the history of popular entertainment in America and Europe. Some have rarely had their story told, others are familiar figures. The essays explore what made these performers extraordinary: how they were trained, how they practised their art, how they were received, celebrated, satirised and mythologised. From the explosive acting of Richard Burbage to the dislocating quirkiness of Peter Lorre, from the dangerous satire of commedia dell'arte troupes in Russia to the bittersweet collaboration of Morecambe and Wise, this volume explores what made these actors popular. Each contributor has taken care to set the performer and their work in cultural context, so that the collection as a whole charts the changing relationship between acting and popular culture over the last four hundred years.
 
Part One examines seventeenth and eighteenth century performers, as they built a sense of the excitement and possibility of theatre with audiences in Britain and Europe. The idea of acting, its art and popular practice was being formed during this period. Part Two explores nineteenth-century popular performers who became cultural icons and developed popular performance that contributed to the regeneration of national identity. Part Three looks at twentieth-century performers whose acting continued to reach popular audiences in remarkable ways, across national boundaries, as the acting industry underwent transformation in the face of technological change
 
This is a unique collection of essays on performers such as Richard Burbage, Sarah Siddons, Peter Lorre, George Formby, Laurel and Hardy, and Morecombe and Wise. It provides an outstanding selection of contributors: Richard Boon, Colin Chambers, Chris Dymkowski, Ger Fitzgibbon, Viv Gardner, Baz Kershaw, Alexander Leggatt, Chris McCullough, Jan McDonald, Joel Schechter, Laurence Senelick, Martin White, and Don Wilmeth.
Contents
PART I: THE IDEA OF ACTING EXTRAORDINARY ACTORS OF THE 17TH AND 18TH CENTURY
 
Introduction Martin Banham

1 Richard Burbage : Alexander Leggatt (University of Toronto, Canada)
 
2 Commedia dell’arte in Russia: Popular Satiric Perfomers in the 18th Century : Laurence Senelick (Tufts University, USA)

3 Thomas Betterton: The Art of Playing : Jane Milling

PART II: THE CELEBRATED ACTOR AS CULTURAL ICON
EXTRAORDINARY ACTORS OF THE 19TH CENTURY

Introduction Chris McCullough (University of Exeter)

4 British Invasions on the American Stage : Don Wilmeth (Brown University, USA)

5 Acting and the Austere Joys of Motherhood: Sarah Siddons Performs Maternity : Jan McDonald (University of Glasgow)
 
6 The Brothers Fay: Irish Acting and the Origins of the Abbey Theatre : Ger Fitzgibbon (University College Cork, Ireland)
 
7 Gertie Millar: Celebrity and Musical Comedy : Viv Gardner (University of Manchester)

PART III: ACTING FOR POPULAR AUDIENCES, THE MASS AND THE LOCAL EXTRAORDINARY ACTORS OF THE 20TH CENTURY

Introduction Jane Milling

8  Lena Ashwell and the Once A-Week Players: Popular Performers in London : Chris Dymkowski (Royal Holloway University of London)

9  Peter Lorre: A Clash of European and US Acting Styles : Chris McCullough (University of Exeter)
 
10 George Formby and the Northern Sublime : Baz Kershaw (University of Bristol)
 
11 Leo Fuchs: Yiddish Vaudevillian : Joel Schechter (San Francisco State University, USA)
 
12 Laurel and Hardy and Morecambe and Wise: Comedy Double Acts : Richard Boon (University of Leeds)
 
13 Playing on the Front Foot: Actors and Audience in British Popular Theatre 1970-1990 : Colin Chambers (De Montfort University) and actress Maggie Steed
 
14 Mark Rylance: Popular acting at the Globe Theatre: Martin White (University of Bristol)
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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