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Charles Dibdin and Late Georgian Culture$
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Oskar Cox Jensen, David Kennerley, and Ian Newman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198812425

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198812425.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 27 January 2022

Writing for Actors

Writing for Actors

The Dramas of Thomas Dibdin

(p.189) 10 Writing for Actors
Charles Dibdin and Late Georgian Culture

Jim Davis

Oxford University Press

Dibdin’s younger son Thomas’ work as a dramatist reveals both change and continuity in expectations of dramatic authorship and theatrical practice in the early nineteenth century. This chapter explores the collaborative nature of Dibdin’s writing: his scripts were not finished literary texts, but raw materials designed to be fully realized only in performance, as celebrated actors brought their own contributions to their roles. While the results were immensely popular with audiences, these methods came under increasing fire from critics such as Leigh Hunt, who damned Dibdin for failing to live up to their new, literary expectations of dramatic authorship and the sovereignty of the author’s text. The gathering forces of specialization and the privileging of the author as twin hallmarks of legitimate cultural authority were beginning to create new hierarchies of theatrical production, genres, and styles, highlighting the contrasts between the era of Charles Dibdin the Elder and that of his sons.

Keywords:   Thomas Dibdin, Leigh Hunt, Joseph Munden, John Emery, burletta, minor theatre, theatre criticism, authorship, actors

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