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Thomas Betterton

(1635–1710), the greatest actor in the Restoration, joined D'Avenant's company at Lincoln's Inn Fields, and was associated in the management of the Dorset Garden Theatre from ...

Betterton, Thomas

Betterton, Thomas   Reference library

The Companion to Theatre and Performance

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2010
Subject:
Performing arts, Theatre
Length:
206 words

..., Thomas ( c. 1635–1710 ) English actor , *manager , and playwright , the most prominent performer of the Restoration. He was recruited into *Davenant 's Duke's Company where he was the leading player and, following Davenant's death in 1668 , manager under Lady Davenant's direction. The highest-paid actor of the time, his contemporaries heaped praises upon his emotional range in *tragedy (his fame as Hamlet was such that he continued to play the part successfully into his seventies), and equally popular in *comedy . Betterton managed the Duke's...

Betterton, Thomas

Betterton, Thomas   Reference library

Gilli Bush-Bailey

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2005
Subject:
Performing arts, Theatre
Length:
276 words

..., Thomas ( c. 1635–1710 ) English actor, manager , and playwright. Traditional histories consider Betterton to have been the greatest figure of the Restoration stage; he certainly was the most prominent and respected of its practitioners. He began as a young actor with Rhodes's company at the Cockpit but was soon recruited into William Davenant 's Duke's Company where he was the leading player and, following Davenant's death in 1668 , manager of the company under Lady Davenant's direction. The highest-paid actor of the time, his contemporaries...

Betterton, Thomas

Betterton, Thomas   Reference library

The Concise Oxford Companion to the Theatre (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2003
Subject:
Performing arts, Theatre
Length:
244 words

..., Thomas (? 1635–1710 ), English actor, the greatest figure of the Restoration stage. He was in the company which reopened the Cockpit in 1660 , and soon after joined Davenant 's company at Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre . After Davenant's death in 1671 , the company, of which Betterton was by then joint manager with Henry Harris , moved to a new theatre in Dorset Garden , and remained there until it was amalgamated with the company at the Theatre Royal in 1682 . In 1695 Betterton broke with the management of the Theatre Royal and successfully...

Betterton, Thomas

Betterton, Thomas (1635–1710)   Quick reference

An A-Z Guide to Shakespeare (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2013

..., Thomas ( 1635–1710 ) The leading actor of the Restoration period, also involved with theatre management. After a short period with Thomas Killigrew and the King's Men, he joined William Davenant and the Duke's Men, and in 1661 played Hamlet with them ‘beyond imagination’, according to Pepys . He went on playing Hamlet until he was over seventy, and his other Shakespeare roles included Brutus, Macbeth, Mercutio, Sir Toby Belch, Lear, Henry VIII, Othello, and Falstaff . There is a biography by David Roberts ...

Betterton, Thomas

Betterton, Thomas (1635–1710)   Quick reference

The Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature (4 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2013
Subject:
Literature
Length:
83 words

..., Thomas ( 1635–1710 ) The greatest actor in the Restoration . He joined Sir William D'Avenant 's company at Lincoln's Inn Fields, and was associated in the management of the Dorset Gardens Theatre from 1671 . His dramas include The Roman Virgin , acted 1669 , adapted from John Webster 's Appius and Virginia ; The Prophetess ( 1690 ), an opera from The Prophetess of Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher ; and King Henry IV ( 1700 ) from William Shakespeare...

Betterton, Thomas

Betterton, Thomas (1635–1710)   Reference library

Catherine Alexander

The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2015

..., Thomas ( 1635–1710 ), the greatest actor of the Restoration period, and frequently compared in skill to Burbage and Garrick . He began his working life apprenticed to the bookseller John Holden , a friend of Davenant and father of one of the first English actresses. Betterton’s under-apprentice was Edward Kynaston . By January 1661 he had joined Davenant ’s Duke’s Company, having performed briefly with John Rhodes ’s Company and with Killigrew , and had early success—recorded by Pepys —as Hamlet. In 1662 he married the actress Mary...

Betterton, Thomas

Betterton, Thomas (1635–1710)   Reference library

The Oxford Companion to English Literature (7 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2009
Subject:
Literature
Length:
193 words

..., Thomas ( 1635–1710 ) The greatest actor in the Restoration . He joined Sir William D'Avenant 's company at Lincoln's Inn Fields, and was associated in the management of the Dorset Gardens Theatre from 1671 . With most of his fellow actors he revolted against the harsh management of Christopher Rich ( bap. 1647 , d. 1714 ; father of John Rich ( ?1692–1761 ) and established a rival company at Lincoln's Inn Fields in 1695 , opening with William Congreve 's Love for Love . In 1705 his company moved into the theatre erected by Sir John Vanbrugh...

Betterton, Thomas

Betterton, Thomas   Quick reference

Oxford Dictionary of English (3 ed.)

Reference type:
English Dictionary
Current Version:
2015
Subject:
English Dictionaries and Thesauri
Length:
42 words
Betterton, Thomas

Betterton, Thomas   Reference library

The New Zealand Oxford Dictionary

Reference type:
English Dictionary
Current Version:
2005
Subject:
English Dictionaries and Thesauri
Length:
41 words
Thomas Betterton

Thomas Betterton  

(1635–1710),the greatest actor in the Restoration, joined D'Avenant's company at Lincoln's Inn Fields, and was associated in the management of the Dorset Garden Theatre from 1671. His dramas include ...
Timon of Athens

Timon of Athens   Reference library

Michael Dobson, Will Sharpe, and Anthony Davies

The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2015
Subject:
Literature, Shakespeare studies and criticism, Performing arts, Theatre
Length:
2,245 words
Publisher:
Oxford University Press

...main contribution, filling a deficiency perceived by many readers since, was to add a love plot, extending the play’s opposition between loyal servants and false friends by supplying Timon with a loyal mistress, Evandra, and an affected, mercenary fiancée, Melissa. With Thomas Betterton as Timon and masque music composed by Purcell , this adaptation established itself in the repertory, frequently revived down to 1745 . It was succeeded by another adaptation in 1771 , by Richard Cumberland , who deprived Timon of his rival girlfriends (times had...

Macbeth

Macbeth   Reference library

Michael Dobson, Will Sharpe, Anthony Davies, and Will Sharpe

The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2015
Subject:
Literature, Shakespeare studies and criticism, Performing arts, Theatre
Length:
4,275 words
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Illustration(s):
1

...moral scheme by expanding the roles of Macduff and Lady Macduff to make them into virtuous counterparts to the Macbeths. With Thomas Betterton and his wife Mary in the leading roles, this adaptation was immensely successful ( Samuel Pepys saw it eight times in less than four years, describing it as ‘a most excellent play in all respects, but especially in divertisement’), and Macbeth remained one of Betterton’s greatest roles down to his retirement in 1709 . His most important successor in the part as reshaped by Davenant was James Quin , who...

Henry IV Part 2

Henry IV Part 2   Reference library

Michael Dobson

The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2015
Subject:
Literature, Shakespeare studies and criticism, Performing arts, Theatre
Length:
2,727 words
Publisher:
Oxford University Press

...IV . Stage history: 2 Henry IV has only rarely been acted wholly independently of Part 1 : since at least the time of the Dering manuscript the plays have been largely inseparable in the theatre no less than in criticism. The earliest post-Restoration revival came when Betterton produced a cut version in which he extended his depiction of Falstaff, but the play was better known in the 18th century for the role of Pistol, memorably played by Theophilus Cibber (who was nicknamed Pistol for the rest of his career). In the 19th century it was revived by...

Pericles

Pericles   Reference library

Sonia Massai and Anthony Davies

The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2015
Subject:
Literature, Shakespeare studies and criticism, Performing arts, Theatre
Length:
2,543 words
Publisher:
Oxford University Press

...1608 , possibly Shakespeare’s largest: Q1 was printed twice in 1609 and four new reprints were published before the outbreak of the Civil War in 1642 . Pericles was the first of Shakespeare’s plays to be revived when the London theatres reopened in 1659–60 : the young Thomas Betterton was highly praised for his performance in the leading role. The play was not performed again until George Lillo adapted it as Marina in 1738 , omitting the first two acts. The play had hardly any stage revivals until Robert Atkins ’s 1921 production at the Old Vic...

All Is True

All Is True   Reference library

Michael Dobson, Will Sharpe, and Anthony Davies

The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2015
Subject:
Literature, Shakespeare studies and criticism, Performing arts, Theatre
Length:
2,792 words
Publisher:
Oxford University Press

...in the King’s Company’s repertoire in 1628 (when Charles I’s favourite George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, commissioned a private performance at the rebuilt Globe), and after the Restoration it established itself as a regularly revived ‘stock’ play from 1664 onwards. Thomas Betterton played the King, coached (according to a memoir of 1708 ) by Sir William Davenant , who had his view of the role from Lowin , said to have been instructed in it by Shakespeare himself. During the 18th century the play was performed often, especially whenever public...

The Merry Wives of Windsor

The Merry Wives of Windsor   Reference library

Michael Dobson and Anthony Davies

The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2015
Subject:
Literature, Shakespeare studies and criticism, Performing arts, Theatre
Length:
2,720 words
Publisher:
Oxford University Press

...and it was revived in unadapted form soon after the Restoration in 1660 . Despite Dennis ’s short-lived adaptation The Comical Gallant ( 1702 ), the original play has remained popular ever since, often starring actors already established as Sir John in Henry IV (from Betterton through Quin to Beerbohm Tree and beyond), though many important performers have also been attracted to the role of Ford (including Kemble and Charles Kean ) , and to those of the wives themselves (including Anne Bracegirdle and Elizabeth Barry , Madge Kendal and ...

Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar   Reference library

Michael Dobson, Will Sharpe, Anthony Davies, and Will Sharpe

The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2015
Subject:
Literature, Shakespeare studies and criticism, Performing arts, Theatre
Length:
3,203 words
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Illustration(s):
1

... Leonard Digges in his commendatory verse to Shakespeare’s poems ( 1640 ). After the Restoration its potentially sympathetic depiction of an assassination easily read as regicide kept it from being revived at once, but it was back on the boards by 1671 , and after 1684 Thomas Betterton took over the role of Brutus, with lasting success. Around 1688 the version of the play in use in London theatres was slightly rewritten to make Brutus more unambiguously sympathetic (adding, for example, a last defiant dialogue with Caesar’s ghost at Philippi, which...

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

A Midsummer Night’s Dream   Reference library

Michael Dobson and Anthony Davies

The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2015
Subject:
Literature, Shakespeare studies and criticism, Performing arts, Theatre
Length:
3,220 words
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Illustration(s):
1

...theatrical repertoire now dominated by contemporary satirical comedy: Pepys , seeing it in 1662 , called it ‘the most insipid ridiculous play that ever I saw in my life’. Thereafter its stage history for most of the next century and a half is one of successive adaptations : Betterton ’s The Fairy Queen ( 1692 ), Garrick ’s The Fairies ( 1755 ), George Colman ’s A Fairy Tale ( 1763 ), and the independent fortunes of ‘Pyramus and Thisbe’, transplanted into Charles Johnson ’s Love in a Forest ( 1723 ) and made into separate mock-operas by Richard...

Othello

Othello   Reference library

Michael Dobson, Will Sharpe, Anthony Davies, and Will Sharpe

The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2015
Subject:
Literature, Shakespeare studies and criticism, Performing arts, Theatre
Length:
4,092 words
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Illustration(s):
1

...by a woman on the English professional stage) and few seasons have gone by without a revival since. Outside the English-speaking world, the play has been especially popular in Russia . The roles of Desdemona and Iago are discussed elsewhere. Great Othellos have included Betterton , Quin , Spranger Barry , J. P. Kemble , and Edmund Kean , whose frightening, animalistic performance in the role was one of his greatest from 1814 until his death (after collapsing onstage in Act 4) in 1833 . The American Ira Aldridge was the first black actor to play...

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark   Reference library

Michael Dobson and Anthony Davies

The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2015
Subject:
Literature, Shakespeare studies and criticism, Performing arts, Theatre
Length:
4,261 words
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Illustration(s):
1

...in performance during the Puritan Interregnum, albeit only as the droll The Grave-Makers , the play was assigned to Davenant ’s company at the Restoration, since which time an unbroken line of leading actors have measured themselves against its title role, starting with Betterton (from 1661 until his retirement more than 40 years later) and extending through Garrick , Kemble , Kean , Macready , Sullivan , Forrest , Booth , and Irving to Barrymore , Gielgud , Olivier , Burton , Pennington , and Branagh , among many others. It would in...

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