This week, I used my ‘Hidden Histories’ slot on Newstalk to look at David Garrick (1717-1779), arguably the first modern actor and a man who attracted huge crowds when he performed at Dublin’s Smock Alley Theatre in the role of Hamlet. When the poet Alexander Pope saw him act for the first time he was so moved that he commented, “that young man never had his equal as an actor, and he will never have a rival”
More importantly to this piece though, Garrick was one of the main forces in reforming 18th century theatre. Reforming acting was one thing, but reforming audiences was another entirely! With varying degrees of success, men like Garrick and Thomas Sheridan (manager of Dublin’s Smock Alley) sought to change the way people engaged with theatre, ensuring that most of the action happened on the stage and not off it.
Anyway, here it is: