British Influences on American Theatre

   A London engagement was regarded as validation for a rising American player. Among British actors who trod the American boards, no star shone more brightly than Sir Henry Irving along with his leading lady Ellen Terry. Irving's tour manager Bram Stoker published his Personal Reminiscences of Henry Irving, which includes amusing anecdotes of the 1899-1900 tour. Great numbers of performers came from England in their youth and established themselves as American theatre artists; a few examples are Maurice Browne, Richard Mansfield, and Julia Marlowe. Many managers maintained inter-ests in both London and New York, producer Charles Frohman prominent among Americans over there.
   The historical melodramas of playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873) remained a staple of the American stage during much of the modernist period. His The Lady of Lyons (1838) and Richelieu (1839) often figured alongside Shakespeare in the repertoires of tragedians like Edwin Booth, Thomas W. Keene, and Robert Mantell as late as the 1890s. The impact of Henrik Ibsen during that decade, though widely regarded as "unwholesome," came via the translations performed on the London stage, as well as the early plays of George Bernard Shaw, which were inspired by Ibsen. Given the close ties that developed between London and New York theatre, it is difficult to trace direct influences, though one can certainly note affinities, such as might be seen in the work of English playwright T. W. Robertson and the American William Dean Howells.

The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. .

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