The Shakspearian Reader
Excerpt from The Shakspearian Reader
In 1877, in a conversation with Edwin Booth, I expressed to him a vegret, - which, doubtless, is felt by many votaries of the drama, - that little of the stage business of the famous old actors, such as Burbage, Betterton, Quin, Wilks, Garrick, Barry, Henderson, Kemble, Edmund Kean, Macready, etc., has been recorded, and that it should be difficult for a student of acting to ascertain the exact manner in which those actors played the parts with which, historically, their names are associated; and I suggested that the time would come when students of acting might find it as hard to learn material facts about his Hamlet and Richelieu, as we had found it to learn material facts about Burbage in Shy lock, or Henderson in Iago. We talked long and earnestly on this subject, and the result of our colloquy was a resolve to print the Edwin Booth Prompt Book, to comprise the sixteen plays which were included in Booth's regular and customary repertory. That collection of plays, with all the original prefaces and notes, and with additional embellishments, - the whole material revised and corrected, - is now presented in a Library Edition.
Edwin Booth said that twenty years earlier, in 1857, he had begun to make stage versions of some of the stock plays then in use by him, and he referred to books of several of them which he had caused to be printed, in the time of his management of the Winter Garden Theatre, 1863 to 1867, under the supervision of a member of his theatrical company: those books, being dissatisfied with them, he said that he had discarded.
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