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date: 17 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter begins with a consideration of the troubling disjunction between, on the one hand, the unflagging cultural interest in and contestation of the powers of the manager throughout the Georgian period, and, on the other, the silence of our research respecting this same subject. It then offers a reading of just a small selection of the wealth of contemporary materials that seek to content the power of the Georgian theatre manager, paying particular attention to the invariably interrogative genre of plays about the theatre that flourished in the print and performance cultures of the eighteenth century. It seeks to recuperate contemporary dramatizations of the playhouse manager as critical anatomies of theatrical power. More importantly, it points to the constitutive ideological tensions that lie behind the polarized constructions of manager-as-despot and manager-as-trustee. These tensions illuminate the ways in which power, property, and hierarchy were imagined and negotiated in eighteenth-century theatrical culture.

Keywords: theatre manager, Garrick, audience, tyranny, Cibber, democracy, historiography

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