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25 March 2020450 Years of Theatre — from Shakespeare to Stoppard
30 June 2020Study Day - Dance in Art

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450 Years of Theatre — from Shakespeare to Stoppard Giles Ramsay Wednesday 25 March 2020

This highly acclaimed study day of three lectures will take us on a merry romp through 450 years of Theatre.

The reign of Elizabeth I saw the birth of England’s greatest playwright, William Shakespeare, and the building of the Globe Theatre, where many of his plays were performed. This was the beginning of the golden age of theatre. With the Civil War this era came to an end, but was succeeded after the Restoration by the rise of the Comedy of Manners, featuring the plays of dramatists such as Congreve, Wycherley and Farquhar. Their plays became popular with the public due to their complicated plots as well as their wit, cynicism and licentiousness.

The 18th century brought the opening of the Drury Lane and Covent Garden theatres and the rise of the great theatre managers, David Garrick and Henry Irving, known for their declamatory style. The Victorian age was characterised by melodrama, music hall and ‘freak shows’.

The 20th century began with the drawing room comedies of Noel Coward and Terence Rattigan, but by the 21st century both playwrights had fallen out of fashion. A breakthrough came in the 1960s with John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger. This new naturalistic style of acting was a revolution in theatre, and Osborne was quickly followed by others including Harold Pinter, Joe Orton, Edward Bond and Tom Stoppard. Another golden age of theatre had begun.

Giles Ramsay is an independent theatre director and producer who specializes in creating new work with artists in developing countries. He is the Founding Director of the charity Developing Artists (, a Fellow of St. Chad’s College, Durham University and Course Leader in Theatre at The Victoria and Albert Museum in London.   Giles combines academic analysis with hands on experience to bring a unique insight to the world of the theatre.

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Organiser Janet Smith