Theatrical Unrest

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Shortlisted for the 2017 Theatre Book Prize What is it about theatre, compared to other kinds of cultural representation, which provokes such a powerful reaction? Theatrical Unrest tells the compelling tales often riots whose cause lies on stage. It looks at the intensity and evanescence of the live event and asks whether theatre shares its unrepeatable quality with history. Tracing episodes of unrest in theatrical history from an Elizabethan uprising over Shakespeare’s Richard II to Sikhs in revolt at Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti’s Behzti, Sean McEvoy chronicles a selection of extreme public responses to this inflammatory art form. Each chapter provides a useful overview of the structure and documentation of one particular event, juxtaposing eyewitness accounts with newspaper reports and other contemporary narratives. Theatrical Unrest is an absorbing account of the explosive impact of performance, and an essential read for anyone interested in theatre’s often violent history.

Table of contents

List of illustrations
1 Raising the dead: The Essex Rebellion of 1601 and Shakespeare’s King Richard II
2 Passion and revolt: Thomas Otway, Venice Preserv’d and the 1795 Westminster riot
3 ‘The Drama’s laws the Drama’s Patrons give’: The Covent Garden Old Price riots of 1809
4 ‘The most important occasion of the century’: Victor Hugo and the 1830 Battle of Hernani
5 Theatre’s bloodiest night: The New York riots of 1849
6 Stand-off at Primrose Hill: The Shakespeare tercentenary of 1864
7 Representing a nation: The 1907 Playboy of the Western World riot at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin
8 ‘You have disgraced yourselves again’: The Plough and the Stars at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, 1926
9 The French Republic under siege: Coriolanus in Paris, February 1934
10 Dishonour and sacred space: Behzti in Birmingham, 2004

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