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A Souvenir Promptbook



This watercolor of the castle of Elsinore is from a souvenir promptbook compiled by prompter T. W. Edmonds for Charles Kean's 1859 production of Hamlet at the Princess's Theatre in London. It is from one of a very few copies to which such watercolors of the sets were added, as well as handwritten notes recording cues and the blocking, or positions, of actors.

 

Kean and his actress wife, Ellen Tree, were for many years the managers and leading players of the Princess's Theatre, and they were hired by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to produce Shakespearean plays at Windsor Castle. They were well known for spectacular productions and a devotion to authenticity. Before presenting King John, for example, Kean visited Worcester Cathedral and measured the monarch's skeleton to determine his height. Similarly, his elaborate stage sets like this one reflected the best contemporary knowledge of the sites portrayed.

 


Shakespeare. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Arranged for representation at the Princess’s Theatre... London, 1859



William Shakespeare. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Arranged for representation at the Princess’s Theatre... London, 1859


 
 
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