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Bloomsbury and British Theatre,

Tim Cribb

Bloomsbury and British Theatre, Tim Cribb


Publication Date: 22-Sep-07 | ISBN: 9781844714148 | Trim Size: 228 x 152 mm | Extent: 204pp | Format: Paperback

UK & International Distribution: Macmillan Distribution | Publishing Status: Active Shop online at HiveFind your local bookshop




The story this book reveals has never been told before. Everyone knows about the Bloomsbury Group and their influence on art and style, on literature, life and manners, even on psychology and economics. But hitherto no one suspected that they have an equally profound influence on English theatre, especially on productions of Shakespeare, most especially on the foundation of the RSC. New research now traces the connections from William Poel and the Elizabethan Stage Society in the late Nineteenth Century to the foundation of the Marlowe Dramatic Society in Cambridge in 1907. Rupert Brooke is an early and active member and his friendships with Virginia Woolf and Lytton Strachey link the new Society to Bloomsbury. The link is developed after the First World War by another friend of Woolf and Strachey and legendary don of King’s College, George (“Dadie”) Rylands, who directs Marlowe Society productions from 1929 to 1966. It is yet another member of Bloomsbury and even more legendary don at King’s, Maynard Keynes, who builds the Cambrige Arts Theatre in 1936, managed by Rylands, where the Marlowe Society has performed ever since. This is the Theatre that Peter Hall haunts as a schoolboy and acts in as a student, in productions of Shakespeare directed by Rylands and (King’s College again!) John Barton. In 1959 Barton leaves King’s to join Peter Hall at the foundation of the RSC. From the same nursery of talent come Trevor Nunn, Ian McKellen, Derek Jacobi and many others, the so-called Cambridge Mafia. The continuity is so remarkable that in the perspective of this history one might almost call them the Bloomsbury Group in disguise.


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List of illustrations; Preface; by Ian McKellen; Chapter 1: Ghosts of Theatre Past: Before the Marlowe ; Chapter 2: The Two Brookes and Old Bloomsbury ; Chapter 3: New Bloomsbury: Enter Dadie Rylands ; Chapter 4: Voices on Vinyl: The Argo Recordings ; Chapter 5: From Bloomsbury to Stratford: Enter John Barton ; Chapter 6: Cymbeline: the Boundary of Bloomsbury: Margaret Drabble and Derek Jacobi; Chapter 7: After Bloomsbury ; Chapter 8: Ghosts of Theatre Future: Radical Potential ; by Stephen Unwin; Appendix A Chronology of Productions 1907-2007; Appendix B Acknowledgements and sources


“The Marlowe has had more influence on British theatre than, I think, anybody knows” —Sir Peter Hall


“This is a most welcome addition not only to the history of theatre but also to the history of Bloomsbury, uncovering a relatively unknown aspect of its influential connections.” —Frances Spalding



Tim CribbBorn near Croydon aerodrome, raised on a farm in Lincolnshire, Tim Cribb is a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge. He has been a tourist disguised as a student in the USA, a teacher in France and Bermondsey, an undisguised student in Oxford, and a Lecturer in Glasgow, where he found his wife. From athletic acting at the Minack Cliff Theatre in Cornwall he has declined gently to directing student theatre and becoming Senior Treasurer of the Marlowe in 1988.

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