theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013…
Originally posted on Spitalfields Life.
There are just a few tickets left for the rare opportunity of a tour of the Garrick Club tomorrow, Wednesday 1st July, as part of the HUGUENOT SUMMER Festival. Click here to book yours.
This modest Staffordshire figure of c.1840 upon my dresser illustrates a pivotal moment in British theatre, when David Garrick made his debut aged twenty-four as Richard III at Goodman’s Fields Theatre in Aldgate on Monday 19th October 1741. Based upon William Hogarth’s painting, it shows Garrick in the momentous scene on the night before the battle of Bosworth Field when those Richard has killed appear to him in a dream foretelling his death and defeat next day.
The equivocal nature of the image fascinates me, simultaneously incarnating the startling ascendancy of David Garrick, a new force in the British theatre who was to end up enshrined in Westminster Abbey, and the sudden descent of Richard III, a spent force in British monarchy who ended up buried in a car park in Leicester. You can interpret the gesture of Garrick’s right hand as attention seeking, inviting you to “Look at my acting” or, equally, it can be Richard’s defensive move, snatching at the air with fingers stretched out in horror. It is, perhaps, both at once. Yet my interest is in Garrick and how he became an overnight sensation, introducing a more naturalistic acting style to the London stage and leading the Shakespearean revival in the eighteenth century. And it all started here in the East End, just a mile south of Shakespeare’s first theatre up the road in Shoreditch.
Garrick’s family were Huguenots. His grandparents fled to London in 1685 and David was born in 1717 as the third of five children while his father Captain Garrick was travelling the country with a recruiting party. Suitably enough, at the age of eleven, David played the part of Kite in George Farquhar’s The Recruiting Officer. Then, in 1737…
via David Garrick In The East End | Spitalfields Life.
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