Monday, February 21, 2011

Tree's Tempest

Here's an interesting find. An online version of Beerbohm Tree's 1904 The Tempest, including all his edits to the text, cast list and so forth. I've got to sit down and read this, I'm intrigued. Does anybody know details about this particular version, and why somebody might have gone to the trouble of preserving it like this?

1 comment:

Jon said...

This is marvelous. The idea of printing the whole text in a souvenir program is new to me (by which I mean: not that it was rare, but that I clearly knew nothing about theatrical customs of the time, if this was done).

I love seeing acting editions of historical productions, and I know some survive (some of Ellen Terry's, for example, though I know of them only at second hand; and the one for the Olivier/Leigh Macbeth was published). But this is my first chance to see something from this period.

The home page isn't kidding about earlier versions being remote indeed from Shakespeare; it was common to add a male parallel to Miranda (a man who had never seen a woman), and other such adornments.

As an amateur follower of scenic design, I smiled in recognition that each scene was identified with the name of its painter, as was de rigeur. Decor for Shakespeare was imagined in terms of "painting a scene" rather than dramatic design in the sense we understand it, and various painters shared the scenes among them.

Likewise composers. As a music historian, I'm thrilled to see the list of music used -- the usual hodgepodge of its time. An overture "arranged" no doubt from Beethoven etc. An old setting of one of the songs (Arne, the 18th-c. composer of "Rule Brittania"), and new music by current composers known for such things, Edward German and Arthur Sullivan (of "Gilbert and"). Sullivan's music for this has been collected as a suite; I have a recording of it. But I never knew it was for a Tree production.

Unfortunately this does not seem to be one of the Shakespeare productions that Shaw wrote about.