Speakers celebrate life – and many deaths – of influential actor at Georgian Theatre

David Garrick by Thomas Gainsborough.

Two distinguished speakers will be sharing the stage at The Georgian Theatre Royal in Richmond on Friday, October 6 to celebrate the life – and many deaths – of one of the most famous and influential actors of all time.

David Garrick (1717-1779) pioneered a natural and realistic acting style that revolutionised performance in the 18th century and he was particularly well-known for his innovative interpretations of Shakespeare, especially the death scenes.

To celebrate the 300th anniversary of Garrick’s birth, Laurence Sach and James Harriman-Smith will be giving two very different presentations on this acting legend, who was also one of the leading playwrights of his day and manager of the prestigious Drury Lane Theatre.

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They will draw on a wide range of illustrative material with additional live action from the popular Barnard Castle Players.

Laurence Sach – a freelance writer, director and critic – will follow the development of the theatre from the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 through to its popular expansion in the 18th century.

This will include a reading of The Farmer’s Return from London, a comic interlude written by Garrick.

In the second part of the evening, James Harriman-Smith, a lecturer in English Literature at Newcastle University, will explore death and the legacy of the 18th century actor, with particular focus on Garrick and Edmund Kean (1787-1833).

Kean occasionally performed on the Richmond stage.

There were several morbid parallels between the two actors, for instance both excelled at death scenes and the bodies of both were subjected to autopsies. What made a good eighteenth-century stage death? And what did enquiring minds hope to discover when they cut up the dead body of a famous actor?

Tickets for The Life and Deaths of David Garrick cost £6 (including £1 restoration levy) and are available from The Georgian Theatre Royal Box Office on 01748 825252 or online at www.georgiantheatreroyal.co.uk