The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Tagged: theater history

Theatrical disturbances and actors behaving badly: what the Drury Lane Prompter’s Journal tells us about nineteenth-century theatrical life

Guest post by Dr. Sarah Burdett What was life like inside the nineteenth-century London theatre? How smoothly did performances run? And how professionally did actors behave? The Drury Lane Prompter’s Journal, 1812-1818, held at the Folger, provides an excellent resource for answering each of these questions. From performances being pulled last minute, to drunkenness during rehearsals, and actresses being shot at on stage, the document is full of juicy and shocking anecdotes which provide fascinating insight into the day-to-day caprices of Georgian theatrical life.… Continue Reading

Twelfth Night

What better play to consider on the twelfth night of Christmas than Twelfth Night? Although there are discrepant practices today whether the Feast of the Epiphany—marking the visit of the Three Kings to Bethlehem to worship the Christ child—is celebrated on the 5th of January or the 6th, in Elizabethan England, the Epiphany was celebrated on the 6th. Like other festivities in the season, Twelfth Night was a time of topsy turvy celebrations inverting social order: boys crowned in mock religious processions, heavy drinking and lavish feasts, parody and misrule replacing stern morality.… Continue Reading

Mors comoedia. A comedy a hundred years old brought to life again in 1726

Sheer chance is an important factor in research. Some sixteen years ago I was surveying a sammelband held at Antwerp University Library that contained 257 programs documenting theater performances in Jesuit schools in Flanders. And now, just a month ago, one of the many Neo-Latin theater plays in the Folger collections unexpectedly helped me to identify the author of one of the largely anonymous texts.… Continue Reading

a Henry for her time

So the short answer to last week’s crocodile mystery is that this is a picture of Gwen Lally in the role of Henry V: How did I know that’s who this was? Well, click on the image and you’ll be taken to the file in Luna, where the metadata clearly indicates that it is “Gwen Lally as Henry V” and the bottom of the image (which I trimmed off for the crocodile post) is labelled “Henry V.” But that’s about all the information it provides, aside from the call number “Scrapbook B.67.1.” Because the Folger Theatre is currently staging Henry V, I was looking through our digital image collection to see what images we had of actors in the role of Henry.… Continue Reading

Rehousing our tinsel print collection

Tinsel prints are a unique English art form from the early and mid-19th century. They are typically composed of metal foils, fabric scraps, leather, feathers, and any other suitable material glued onto printed portraits of actors and actresses. Theatrical tinsel portraits have their roots in “patch portraits,” which were introduced to England by French prisoners of war in the late 18th century.… Continue Reading

From Stage to E-page: Theater Archives at the Folger Library

[This post was first delivered as a talk at the 2012 conference of the Shakespeare Association of America as part of a session called “The Once and Future Performance Archive.”] The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC opened in 1932. It is representative of a private institution whose collections were very much shaped by the interest of its founders, Henry and Emily Folger.… Continue Reading