“Crowding to the Pit,” print by Theodore Lane, 1821 (after Robert Dighton).
On Monday, March 21, 2016 at 7 p.m. at the John Hay Library, Joseph Roach, the Sterling Professor of Theater at Yale University, will deliver the 12th Annual Don Wilmeth Endowed Lectureship in Theatre and Entertainment entitled, “Actors and Other Monsters: Graphic Satire As Blood Sport, 1789–1830.” The lecture is complemented by an exhibit curated by Professor Wilmeth.
This event is free and open to the public.
Attendees will discover how monstrosity thrives in the golden age of graphic satire, and how few monsters of caricature surpass actors for appearing not only with warts and all, but also as all warts. Politicians do rival them in ridicule, however—as fat as Richard Brinsley Sheridan (himself a politician as well as a playwright), as cadaverous as John Philip Kemble, or as Lilliputian as child star Master Betty—convened alike by John Bull as butts of national laughter in a Parliament of freaks.
Accompanying the lecture is a special exhibit curated by Prof. Wilmeth on “The Golden Age of British Theatre Caricature” with dozens of examples of prints—etchings, engravings and other popular visual forms depicting popular theatre during the late Georgian and early Regency periods in Great Britain. Among the artists represented in the exhibit are Robert Dighton, James Gillray, Thomas Rowlandson, the Cruikshank family, Samuel de Wilde, and others who entertained the public with their satiric magic on paper, highlighted by several special events during this period (the young acting prodigy Master Betty, the Old Price riots at Covent Garden Theatre, and the actor Edmund Kean’s scandalous escapades, among others). In general, these delightful visual pieces serve as instruments of journalistic ego deflation of these subjects. This exhibit is installed in the Willis Reading Room cases and in the Lownes Room cases. Please ask at the front desk for access to the Lownes Room.
Professor Joseph Roach
A theatre historian, stage director, and performance studies scholar, Joseph Roach is the author of The Player’s Passion: Studies in the Science of Acting (1985), Cities of the Dead: Circum-Atlantic Performance (1996) and It (2007). He is the editor (with Janelle Reinelt) of Critical Theory and Performance (2ndedition, revised 2007) and Changing the Subject: Marvin Carlson and Theatre Studies, 1959-2009 (2009). His publications have been recognized by the James Russell Lowell Prize from the Modern Language Association, the Barnard Hewitt Award in Theatre History, and the Joe E. Calloway Prize for Drama. Before coming to Yale, he chaired the Department of Performing Arts at Washington University in St. Louis, the Interdisciplinary PhD in Theatre at Northwestern University, and the Department of Performance Studies in the Tisch School of Arts at NYU. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Distinguished Scholar Award from the American Society for Theatre Research and a Distinguished Achievement Award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which funds the World Performance Project at Yale. In 2009, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of Warwick (UK) and the Fletcher Jones Distinguished Fellowship from the Huntington Library.
Date: March 21, 2016
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Lownes Room, John Hay Library, 20 Prospect Street, Providence
“Opinions respecting the Young Roscious (Master Better),” engraving by Thomas Rowlandson, London, 1804.