Is He a Dramatist? Or, Something Singular! Staging Dickensian drama as practice-led research

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Hofer-Robinson, Joanna
Cox Jensen, Oskar
Whipday, Emma
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Charles Dickens is not usually remembered as a dramatist; in fact, the contemporary success of his subsequently neglected dramatic writing is predicated on the absence of the authorial persona that we now consider ‘Dickensian’. Drawing on findings from a practice-led research project, which staged Dickens’s burletta Is She His Wife? or, Something Singular!, this article examines what performing this play can tell us about Dickensian dramaturgy and nineteenth-century theatrical culture. Interrogating the role of practice-led research in the study of nineteenth-century drama, we suggest that this methodology allows contemporary scholars to look beyond Dickens’s contemporary significance as a canonised literary and heritage figure. Our historically informed production illuminates the ways in which Dickens used material properties, music, and performance strategies to stage-manage his own disappearing act as a playwright.
Dickens , Burletta , Practice-led research , Scenery , Rehearsal , 1830s
Robinson, J., Jensen, O. C. and Whipday, E. (2016) 'Is He a Dramatist? Or, Something Singular! Staging Dickensian Drama as Practice-Led Research', Nineteenth Century Theatre and Film, 43(2), pp. 160-182. doi: 10.1177/1748372716687317
© 2016 The Authors. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications