Author's Choice: The Relevance of Author as Casting Director on the Restoration Stage

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Title: Author's Choice: The Relevance of Author as Casting Director on the Restoration Stage
Author: Anderson, Jennifer Smith
Advisors: Anne Baker, Committee Member
Christopher Cobb, Committee Member
John Morillo, Committee Chair
Abstract: During the Restoration playwrights were often able to act as directors when their works reached the stage. Playwrights were also very public about their intentions within their plays: the attitudes they wished the audience to take and the emotions they hoped their works to instill. As a result, we are able to examine the author⁄director's choice of cast and determine how those choices were intended to directly affect interpretation. With the loss of a play's original cast, much of the author's intent was lost. John Dryden wrote his story of Antony and Cleopatra, All For Love, as a tragedy, with the intent of evoking the pity of the audience. His choice of cast for the play's premiere in 1677 reflects this intent. Though the play was still highly popular in 1718, the changing cast had counteracted the intended pity. In 1696, Sir John Vanbrugh wrote The Relapse in response to Colley Cibber's move toward sentimental comedy in Love's Last Shift. Vanbrugh's play immediately met criticism from moralists, and by the time of its performance in 1716 the changing cast indicated the first shift of many that took the play from a reaction against sentimental comedy to a specimen of the same. Dryden's most extravagant heroic drama, The Conquest of Granada, used the personalities of its original cast to add depth to the play. By the play's final production in 1709, the new cast was unable to sustain the claims and characterizations necessary to the genre. Consistent throughout the major genres of Restoration drama is a move away from author intent over time, which is exemplified in changing cast lists, and amplified by comparisons between the changing casts and the casts of each play's premiere.
Date: 2006-06-23
Degree: MA
Discipline: English

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