• Covent Garden
  • Theatre in the Regency Era: Plays, Performance, Practice 1795-1843
  • Sadlers Wells
  • Drury Lane

Theatre in the Regency Era: Plays, Performance, Practice 1795-1843

Downing College, University of Cambridge July 29-31, 2016

Convenors: Barry Sheppard, Marcus Risdell, Michael Burden, Michael Gaunt, Sarah Meer, Vanessa L. Rogers

For all of its influence, the Regency period in Britain only technically lasted nine years, from 1811 to 1820, when King George III was declared unfit and his heir ruled by proxy as Prince Regent. But the man who became George IV exerted his influence for many more decades after his death in 1830, and his interest in theatre and the arts characterized the period. This is the era of an astonishing proliferation of new theatres, catering to a wider audience than ever before. New forms of entertainment appeared (equestrian, military, melodramatic), and theatrical amusements grew more diverse as managers, authors, and performers dealt with changes in contemporary taste and preoccupations, an increased awareness of social issues, and technological innovations, among other developments.

To reflect the interdisciplinary nature and commercial motivations of theatre in the Regency Era, the conference has invited papers by scholars exploring the period’s dance, music and drama from a range of historical and methodological perspectives.


The conference will be held on the beautiful campus of Downing College, Cambridge, and in its traditional nineteenth-century neo-classical rooms and Georgian-inspired theatre auditorium, dating from 2010. The fully-restored College was designed in 1806 by William Wilkins the Younger, the architect who designed the National Gallery and the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmonds, among other significant buildings. The Lecture Theatre at Downing College, in which the ‘A’ panel sessions will take place, is accessible by lift and by stairs. The Music Room and the Annexe, in which the ‘B’ and ‘C’ panel sessions will take place, are unfortunately accessible by stairs only. For further information on the venue and the accommodation please click here.


There are rooms available for the duration of the conference at Downing College, please see here for details.

Keynote Speakers

The keynote address will be given by Celina Fox (The Arts of Industry in the Age of Enlightenment). Historical gesture specialist Jed Wentz (Conservatorium van Amsterdam) will present a lecture-performance with João Luís Paixão on Saturday evening.

In addition, the conference will open with an introduction by Iain Mackintosh (Architecture, Actor and Audience) at the remarkable Cambridge Festival Theatre (now the Cambridge Buddhist Centre) complete with its 1924 open stage conceived by Terence Gray, a 15-minute walk from the College. This theatre was built in 1814 (designed by William Wilkins the Elder), and will provide a rare opportunity for conference attendees to see an original surviving Regency three-level horseshoe auditorium.

For biographical information on our keynote speakers please click here.

Conference Summary

Friday 29 July

13.30: Registration opens at Downing College
15.00: Visit to Cambridge Festival Theatre and welcome address
18.30: Welcome reception at Downing College, kindly sponsored by Adam Matthew.

Saturday 30 July

08.00: Registration continues
09.00: Papers
12.00: Keynote Address by Celina Fox
13.00: Buffet Lunch
14.00: Papers continue
17.30: Lecture-Performance by Jed Wentz
20.00: Conference Dinner* in Hall, with an After-Dinner Address by Oskar Cox Jensen

Sunday 31 July

08.30: Registration continues
09.00: Papers resume
13.00: Conference ends



There will be an optional Blue Badge Tour of Cambridge on Sunday afternoon for any delegates who would like to relax after the conference proceedings have concluded. The Tour will begin at 2pm from the Porters’ Lodge at Downing College and finish at 3.30pm in the Market Square. There will be a maximum of 20 places and delegates will be able to sign up for the Tour at the Registration Desk.

For full details please see here.

*The Conference Dinner offers both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options and includes a half-bottle of wine.

Theatre in the Regency Era: Gala Dinner Menus


Terrine of Chicken Breast and wild Mushroom wrapped in leek served with a tomato and caper dressing
Braised shoulder and roast rump of Lamb
Boulangère potatoes, wild mushroom and baby onions
Sour Cherry Crème Brûlée
Dark chocolate sorbet, hazelnut shortbread (v)

Vegetarian Menu

Chicory, Shaved Fennel and Orange Salad
Blue Cheese crumb
Cep hulled wheat Risotto served in a Parmesan Basket
confit of garlic and baby vegetables
Sour Cherry Crème Brûlée
Dark chocolate sorbet, hazelnut shortbread (v)

Wine List

(Dinner includes a half-bottle of wine)

 College Own Label Sauvignon Blanc
Lively nose with delicate and refreshing aromas of white fruits.

College Own Label Syrah
On the palate this nicely concentrated Syrah combines fruit and spice.


Confirmed Speakers


James Armstrong (Saint Peters University & City University of New York), ‘Succeeding the Siddons: Eliza O’Neill and the Triumph of the Romantic Style’
Jean Baker (formerly of the University of Kent at Canterbury), ‘“Life’s Trouble Waves”:  Sarah Baker’s “Great Grand” Kentish Theatres and the Napoleonic Wars, 1793-1815’
Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson (Independent Researchers, Brentwood, Essex), ‘The Solemn Dirge and Funeral Procession in Romeo and Juliet’
Lucy Barnes (Selwyn College, Cambridge), ‘“Bring forth the fiery untamed steed!”: Henry M. Milner’s Mazeppa and the Boisterous Insurgency of Hippodrama’
Anna Maria Barry (Oxford Brookes University), ‘Singing Sailors: Charles Incledon, John Braham and the Napoleonic Wars’
Arthur Bloom (Author, Edwin Booth: A Biography and Performance History and Joseph Jefferson: Dean of the American Theatre), ‘An American Gladiator in Regency England’
Susan Brown (University of Prince Edward Island),‘Women’s Production Skills in London’s Theatres: Mary Rein’s Costume Workshop’
Jonathan Buckmaster (Royal Holloway, University of London), ‘Showing “a true-hearted, excellent man, and great actor, in many pleasing lights”: Dickens’s biography of Joseph Grimaldi’
Michael Burden (New College, Oxford), ‘The Anatomy of a Scandal: A Theatre Dancer’s Trip to Gretna Green with Hughes Balls Hughes’
David Coates (University of Warwick), ‘ “Like measles, amateur theatricals are raging”: What Can Be Gained by Taking a Step Back?’
Rachel Cowgill (University of Huddersfield), ‘Pantheon Redux: The Project for the Prince Regent’s Court Opera House, 1811-1812’
Oskar Cox Jensen (King’s College London), ‘True Courage’: A Song in Stages’
T.J. Cribb (Fellow Emeritus, Churchill College, Cambridge), ‘From Stirbitch Booth to the Barnwell Theatre; or, Layer upon Layer’
Jim Davis (University of Warwick) ‘Habits rather than passions: Low Comedy Acting in Regency Shakespeare’
Christina Fuhrmann (Ashland University), ‘Aladdin vs. Oberon’
Amy Garnai (Tel Aviv University), ‘Thomas Holcroft, Thomas Dibdin and the Emergence of British Melodrama’
Michael Gaunt (Society for Theatre Research), ‘The Skull in the Glass Case; or, The Case of the Actor Who Lost His Head’
Ellen K. Gjervan (Queen Maud University College), ‘The Hybrid Child; or, The Regency Hippodrama’s Conquest of the Stage and the Continent’
Moira Goff (The Garrick Club of London), ‘In Search of London’s Pre-Romantic Dancing’
Trevor R. Griffiths (Exeter University and editor, Theatre Notebook), ‘Frederic Reynolds: The Dramatist’s dramatist
Judith Hawley (Royal Holloway, University of London), ‘Blowing up the Pic Nics: Private Theatricals in the Regency Era’
Gavin Henderson (Royal Central School of Speech and Drama),The Prince Regent and Music
Franklin J. Hildy (University of Maryland), ‘The Origins of Shakespeare’s Globe in Regency Era England’
Amalya Lehmann (University of California, Berkeley),‘“The House was kept in continual laughter”:  Understanding Rossinian Humour in London, 1818-1830’
Lily Kass (University of Pennsylvania)‘The Cultural Translations of Caractacus (1759-1797)’
David Kennerley (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities, University of Oxford), ‘Loyalism, the solo show and the performance of personality: Charles Dibdin at the Sans Souci’
Iain Mackintosh
(retired scholar, Garrick Club of London), ‘The Margravine of Anspach: Winston’s patron – playwright, actress, theatre builder and notorious London society hostess, 1792 – 1810’
Hannah Manktelow
(University of Nottingham / The British Library), ‘“Country acting is at a very low ebb at present”: Perceptions and Realities of Provincial Performance in the Regency Era’
David Mayer (University of Manchester) and Cassie Mayer, ‘Behind the Scenes at Astley’s’
Sarah McCleave (Queens University, Belfast),‘A Special Relationship? Paris Opera Dancers in London’
Drew Milne (Faculty of English, University of Cambridge, and Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge), ‘The Political Ecology of Theatrical Picturesque: Walter Scott Dramatized and the Edinburgh Theatre Royal’
Richard O’Brien (Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham), ‘Avoiding the Lion: Shakespeare and Regency Era Verse Theatre’
Marcus Risdell (SOAS, University of London), ‘Charles Mathews the Curator: a Reconstruction of his Picture Gallery’
Fiona Ritchie (McGill University), ‘Shakespeare in London and the Provinces: Dorothy Jordan’s Response to the Old Price Riots of 1809’
Brianna Robertson-Kirkland (University of Glasgow),‘‘The Father of a New Style of English Singing and a New Race of Singers’
Joanna Robinson (Kings College London) and Emma Whipday (Brasenose College, Oxford), ‘Intimate Scenes: Theatrical Space in Domestic Settings’
Terry F. Robinson (University of Toronto), ‘Sarah Siddons and the Art of Abstraction’
Gillian Russell (University of Melbourne), ‘The Regency Theatre in Londina Illustrata: Topographical Illustration, Sociability and the Work of Robert Blemmell Schnebbelie’
Vicky Simon (Alan Baxter & Associates),‘In, Out, In, Out: Winston and the proscenium arch doors at Drury Lane, 1794 – 1822’
Susan I. B. Solomon (Society for Theatre Research), ‘Richard Brinsley Peake: A Farcical Approach to the Law’
Katherine Swimm (Tufts University), ‘The Ghost and the Grain Sack: The Domestic Gothic in Regency Era Theatre Iconography’
Elizabeth Tames (University of Essex), ‘“Patent” Illegitimacy: the unauthorized staging of Byron’s Marino Faliero’
Eva Urban (Faculty of English, University of Cambridge), ‘Remorse Tragedy: Reason, Romanticism, and Transcultural Humanism in Pizarro (1799) by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, and Remorse (1813) by Samuel Taylor Coleridge’
Susan Valladares (Worcester College, University of Oxford), ‘Let the curtain fall’: Charles Dibdin the Younger’s final years at Sadler’s Wells’
Pieter van der Merwe (National Maritime Museum), ‘A Great Light in the East?: Gas and the Wellclose-Square Theatre,1816’
David Wilmore (University of Hull, Department of Drama & Theatre Practice), ‘In Winston’s footsteps: the next three guides to Provincial Theatre – 1827, 1833 and 1864’
Eva Zöllner (Independent scholar, Hamburg), ‘”Pious Orgies” and “Cherries Ripe”: The Oratorio Series at the London Theatres from 1795 to 1840′



For any additional information please email regency@str.org.uk.