Shakespeare in the Theatre
William Poel (1852–1934), actor, director and author, began his acting career in 1876, deliberately choosing provincial touring in order to learn his craft. After a period as manager of the Royal Victoria Hall and Coffee Tavern (later the Old Vic), he worked as stage manager for the actor-manager Frank Benson. In the 1890s he founded the Elizabethan Stage Society in order to demonstrate his fervent belief that only a return to Elizabethan performance methods would enable a true understanding of Shakespeare's plays. This was to have a profound influence on modern productions, with directors such as Tyrone Guthrie and John Gielgud adopting his ideals rather than his often idiosyncratic practices. Moreover, his long-held wish for a replica of the Globe Theatre has since become a reality. Poel was also a prolific author and this work, first published in 1913, explores his philosophy by bringing together four articles on the staging of Shakespeare.