With chapters on each of Shelley’s dramatic works, the book provides a thorough discussion of the poet’s stagecraft, and analyses performances of his plays from the Georgian period to today. In addition, Mulhallen offers details of the productions Shelley saw in England and Italy, many not identified before, as well as a vivid account of the actors and personalities that constituted the theatrical scene of his time. Her research reveals Shelley as an extraordinarily talented playwright, whose fascination with contemporary theatrical theory and practice seriously challenges the notion that he was a reluctant dramatist.
Prof. Stephen Behrendt (Nebraska) has described the book as "wonderfully convincing" and "something wholly new in Shelley studies", while Prof. Tim Webb (Bristol) describes Mulhallen as having a "more precisely developed sense of the theatrical possibilities of Shelley's work than almost anybody who has written about Shelley".
The Theatre of Shelley is essential reading for anyone interested in Romanticism, nineteenth-century culture and the history of theatre.Since publication this book has been viewed over 1900 times. Last updated March 2013
Title: The Theatre of Shelley
Author: Mulhallen, Jacqueline
Publication date: December 2010
Number of pages: xvi + 289
Dimensions: 6.14" x 9.21"
Illustrations: 21 black and white
BIC Subject Codes: DSG (Literary studies: plays & playwrights), DSBF (Literary studies: circa 1800-1900)
The Theatre of Shelley, by Jacqueline Mulhallen, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
1. The Theatrical Context: The Georgian Theatre in England
2. Shelley’s Theatregoing, Playreading and Criticism
3. Practical Technique: The Cenci
4. Turning History into Art: Charles the First
5. Ideal Drama: Prometheus Unbound
6. Drama for a Purpose: Hellas & Fragments of an Unfinished Drama
7. Satirical Comedy: Swellfoot the Tyrant
Appendix I: List of Performances Seen by Shelley
Appendix II: The Programme of Songs with the Performance of Douglas
Jacqueline Mulhallen studied at the University of New South Wales and the University of Helsinki before receiving her doctorate from Anglia Ruskin University in 2008. She has worked as a performer and writer with Lynx Theatre and Poetry and BBC Radio, and her plays Sylvia and Rebels and Friends have toured England and Ireland. Her academic publications include ‘Samuel Johnson: Amateur Physician’ in Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine (1982), ‘Sylvia Pankhurst’s Northern Tour’ at www.sylviapankhurst.com (2008) and ‘Sylvia Pankhurst’s Paintings: A Missing Link’ in Women’s History Magazine (2009), plus she is a contributor to the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of the Georgian Playhouse 1737-1832.
The Theatre of Shelley is a detailed and enjoyable account of Shelley’s dramatic writing in its historical context. […] Mulhallen is equally adept at discussing Swellfoot the Tyrant and discussing his debt to Schlegel’s dramatic theory. Much of the book is dedicated to presenting the fruits of Mulhallen’s wide-ranging historical research and investigations into the composition of all Shelley’s theatrical writings. Yet some of its best moments come when Mulhallen, clearly drawing on her experience as a practicing actor and dramatist, attempts to imagine how, for example, an actor might most successfully interpret the part of a "fanatical character" like Count Cenci, or how Shelley might have envisioned a scene working with particular actors […] I certainly share Mulhallen’s hope that it won’t be too long before Shelley’s plays are staged again.
Mulhallen’s groundbreaking research redefines our view of Shelley as an artist and as a revolutionary, and is an important and inspiring contribution to understanding Shelley [...] The well-chosen and beautiful illustrations enhance the text and help the reader to envisage the world of the late Georgian theatre.
You can read the full review here.
Jacqueline Mulhallen's monograph is a triumph! It is the first book I have read entirely onscreen. I purchased the PDF format for £4.95 and it was physically comfortable to read and well-produced by the admirable publisher. I particularly liked the first two chapters and learned a very great deal from them. And I think Appendix I is a very serious contribution to Shelley studies in its own right, for which the
author deserves the highest praise. Throughout I was engaged and warmed to the analysis of Shelley's dramas as a whole from Scenes for Tasso through Fragments of an Unfinished Drama. No-one has ever done that before, to my knowledge. The sense of the author's professional expertise and her being qualified to comment on theatrical effect shone through, and was unfailingly illuminating. I also liked the admirable attempt to identify a distinctively Shelleyan conception of drama and to ground it through reference to relevant primary sources and his reading, especially Schlegel. I have a few minor quibbles. I wondered about the ordering of Chapters 3-7; on this first reading I remain not entirely convinced by the arguments about the dramatic qualities of Prometheus Unbound and Hellas, and in a very few places I dissented from the views expressed. But these really are minor issues which did not mar my enjoyment of the book at all. It is well written, intelligently illustrated and scholarly. I shall return to it — and make my students read it!
Senior Lecturer in Romantic Literature
Jacqueline Mulhallen's The Theatre of Shelley places one of the giants of English literature brilliantly in the context of the theatre for which he wrote. Early Nineteenth Century English theatre is still widely misunderstood, and Mulhallen's book proves the value of having a researcher and practitioner who is prepared to go back to familiar and unfamiliar sources with a fresh eye. Each chapter punctures prevailing myths about Shelley and the drama he wrote, provoking a complete reassessment of conventional views about 'closet' drama and the gulf between poet and theatrical practice. I discovered a huge amount from the book and am delighted by the passionate and well-argued case it makes for us to rethink this fascinating point in dramatic and literary history.
Playwright and Associate Director of the Unicorn Theatre
Certainly The Theatre of Shelley is something wholly new in Shelley studies. This is a book that takes us very far in reassessing Shelley's eminently practical knowledge of theatre practices in his time. Too often (as Dr. Mulhallen reminds us) Shelley is accused of impracticality and misguided idealism when it comes to those works (like The Cenci) that he wrote specifically for the stage. And yet, as Dr. Mulhallen also reminds us, he knew a great deal about not just the theatrical practices of the time but also about the physical capabilities of various theatres themselves, about the types of stagecraft that was possible in each of them, about the scenic and costume options and overall physical ‘spectacle’, and about the period's actors and actresses (together with acting styles) to ensure that we consider his dramatic works within the parameters of the theatres of his lifetime. This approach not only makes a great deal of sense but also reveal an extraordinarily talented playwright who knew very well how to calculate the physical aspects of his works to achieve the greatest possible effect. The resulting study is wonderfully convincing and a very major contribution to the reassessment of Shelley's work.
University Professor and George Holmes Distinguished Professor of English
University of Nebraska
The Theatre of Shelley has many virtues. Clearly, it is the work of someone who has had a working connection with the theatre and consequently has a more precisely developed sense of the theatrical possibilities of Shelley's work than almost anybody who has written about Shelley. I'm delighted, too, that she has researched the theatrical contexts of Shelley's age. Even more valuable, perhaps, is Jacqueline Mulhallen's reconstruction of the theatrical performances which Shelley saw when he was abroad. On their own, these two areas of research add a dimension to our understanding of the world in which Shelley customarily operated and which helped to form his own concepts of theatre.
University of Bristol
Professor of English
I've loved The Theatre of Shelley, read it twice, and particularly enjoyed Chapter 4. Charles I really was a dreadful man wasn't he? Congratulations... it really is great to have something so scholarly that is so easy to read.